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25 September 2011

Tessa Jowell: Labour’s message is “just white noise“

In the country at large, "nobody is listening", says shadow Olympics minister.

By Samira Shackle

Tessa Jowell has given a frank interview to the Independent on Sunday, in which she says that the public is not listening to Labour because of a breakdown in trust over the economy, its stance on welfare and immigration, and its relationship with the Murdoch empire.

As the Labour party conference kicks off in Liverpool, this may not be the positive message that Ed Miliband wants to send. In her harshest comments, Jowell, said:

What we’ve got to accept is that in the country more widely, nobody is listening. The biggest battle that Labour has at the moment is to be relevant and to be heard… For so many people, it’s just white noise.

She is joined by two other Blairite MPs — Liam Byrne and Alan Johnson — in calling for Miliband to apologise for Labour’s mistakes on the economy in his speech to conference. His aides have said that they believe the moment for an apology has passed, and he is not expected to go any further than saying that there is a “long way to go” to regain public trust.

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Her comments likening the last Labour government’s relationship to the Murdoch empire to “crack cocaine” has also drawn headlines:

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I think that the mistake that we made – it’s a bit like the crack cocaine of politics, isn’t it? Getting a good write-up, or the horror of a bad write-up. At its worst, Westminster politics is like a private conversation between Westminster media and Westminster politicians, and the rest of the world are eavesdroppers on a private conversation, and that’s got to change.

This clearly shows Labour — even those deeply committed to thew New Labour project — keen to distance themselves from the Murdoch empire and the corruption revealed in the phone-hacking scandal. It’s also in keeping with Miliband’s strategy of positioning Labour as the party of the “squeezed middle”, rather than of the political elites