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Blinded by The Sun: an open letter to Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband with The SunDear Ed,

Yesterday you did something really dreadful, although I doubt you realise the full significance. In the same week that members of your party, the postal workers union, senior Labour MPs and thousands of voters on Merseyside were organising a campaign to reject The Sun newspaper being delivered unsolicited through their letter boxes, you posed, grinning, with the paper.

The fact that you have apparently apologised to Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, indicates that you are perhaps a little more aware of your mistake than you were yesterday, but it doesn’t even begin to touch on the real, underlying causes of this enormous error of judgement.

I don’t need to go into the reasons why that campaign was taking place – you know the reasons why The Sun is rightly despised by the overwhelming majority of your own party. So any apology should be directed, not just to the MPs within your own party, so justifiably angry – or just to the people of Merseyside who will feel so betrayed by your actions, but to the Labour Party members who pay their membership fees, go to meetings, campaign for the party and at times, defend the indefensible for the sake of party unity.

This time, I don’t think you can depend on that happening – not from me, in any case. By posing with The Sun (I’m aware that it’s not the first time, but the timing this time was atrocious), you have made something snap. It should have snapped when you went along with the tabloid hysteria over Falkirk, but the back-peddling and the soothing words from some senior union leaders held it back. No more. This was an absolute betrayal of your own party, its history and any hopes that we might have had that you had broken with New Labour.

So what on earth was the thinking behind it? Unfortunately, I think it is in your political DNA. For all the talk of a “better politics”, you are patently incapable of divorcing yourself from the triangulation and spin of Blairism. Why should any of us be surprised? Politically speaking, you were brought up, not in the household of Ralph and Marion, but in the house of Blair. Your politics, and more importantly, your method, were incubated by New Labour. You are trapped – able to understand, theoretically at least, that New Labour is finished – but not having anything else in your armoury but what that education taught you.

No doubt the unelected advisors in your office told you that by posing with The Sun, you would be inoculating yourself against the worst of their attacks in the run up to the election. The reality is, however, that you’ve fallen into the biggest trap going. You have sacrificed the support of some of Labour’s most loyal supporters, activists and voters at the altar of the tabloid press – and their anti-working class, anti-union, migrant bashing, homophobic, sexist agenda. You’ve sacrificed that support because you’re too scared to go to the country with a moderately social democratic agenda, facing down the hostility of The Sun.

It’s a sign of weakness, not strength and, no matter what the highly paid strategists in your office tell you, it’s a disaster. It’s like crawling to a bully in the hope that they will avoid picking on you. That might elicit sympathy, but as a leader of the Labour Party, we’ll need more than that to win the election, never mind build a better society.

What’s more, you looked awkward. That’s no surprise, because I’d hope the memory of the 96 was weighing heavily on your brain as the camera lens shut. The huge frustration we all feel, Ed, is that we know you’re not a Tony Blair. For Blair, this would be an easy choice. He never pretended to give a damn about the membership or the heartlands of Labour support. In fact, he set himself up in opposition to the grassroots membership – and spent an awful lot of time trying to (and succeeding in) destroying democracy within the party.

But you said that you were going to bring a better kind of politics; that you were trying to create a party that could “breathe”. I can’t be the only one who feels that the suffocating atmosphere of New Labour (of spin, of servitude to the tabloids, of management speak) is still very much with us.

So, why don’t I just leave, you may ask. If my disappointment and anger is so strong with you and the people around you, why on earth would I stay in the Labour Party?

The answer is quite simple. It’s because my Labour Party is a different Labour Party. It is the thousands of ordinary members who still believe in socialism, no matter how beaten down they have been by the experience of New Labour. It is the party of John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and Katy Clark, who get out on picket lines, engage with working people, disabled people, the poor and the victimised and speak for them on a daily basis. It is also a party with a past – a proud tradition which includes not only the likes of Bevan and the great and good, but grassroots socialists who have built this party, not with the help of the right-wing tabloid press, but in the teeth of their hatred.

They were the real Labour Party – and I believe that when the dregs of New Labourism have finally been washed away, we can carry on the fight to build that party again.

Yours in disappointment,

Ben Sellers
City of Durham CLP

31 Comments

  1. Rod says:

    “you did something really dreadful, although I doubt you realise the full significance”

    This is why Miliband is unfit to be PM.

    He should get himself a pair of baggy trousers, big shoes, a red nose and run off to the circus.

  2. Julian Wells says:

    Why is this a surprise?

    We already know Miliband doesn’t read British newspapers and relies on gofers to tell him what’s going on (http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/ed-miliband-on-the-road).

  3. John Reid says:

    Ed was il advised to do this, what was h thinking? And to add insult to memory, he then back tracked, but he didn’t em apologise his sorry for those who are offended, added insult to injury,

    I understand there are those in the Party who didn’t ike new Labour, felt new labour didn’t support unions, or workers, but this letter saying Blair didn’t care for labour members, it was labour members who elected him, campaigned for him in 3 elections, and were rewarded by 3 victories, you are right to say members at meetings defend the indefensible, including the bullying of militant on Liverpool city council, Corbyn and Mcdonnels description of the IRA as heroes, or Katy Clark calling for the scrapping of kettling, without giving an alternative to controlling rioting in close areas.
    But eds mistake here what has it todo with new labour and tosay that it was deliberately a new labour idea to appeal to the days of the media, new labour blocked twice Murdoch take overs including Manchester United, plus the union that refused to deliver it, association with labour, when the sun was still coming out with bigoted lies in the early 80’s there were print union members still writing for the sun then, was their outrage at that time, surely you knew that the other Miliband in that house didn’t have the same political views of their Dad, the Blair comparison, a large amount of members were happy he lead us to victory

    1. Robert says:

      John have you thought of writing an article for the Beano Tony Blair the leader who was labour.

      1. John Reid says:

        It’s. Fact that the likes of the Beano was used to portray black people as monkeys, and Jews as Rats and Weasels, dragging around monkeys in chains with bags of cash.

        Funnily enough some of the anti semeticism, over Israel, by the like of the guardians cartoonist, would suit some of the people on her who criticised Blair.

        1. Robert says:

          yes and Tories are Socialist like you and your ,mate Blair.

          1. John reid says:

            I’ve never met him, silly comment

  4. Mikchael Bell says:

    “what was he thinking”? He was not thinking. These people do not think. They are drones for big business, and big everything. The only reason he has a modicum of a chance getting elected is because the Tories are so bad, and there’s no alternative. But this man is the worst of the worse: at least with Cameron you know what you’re dealing with – these centrist, big bureacracy boobs will further ruin the country. Milliband is a social appointee, not an accomploshed leader. Liek hs counterpart, Hillary, in the US, the only difference between them and the far RIght is a few tolerance policies, but he’ll sell you out just like Blair did, and Obama has.

  5. Rod says:

    John Reid: “Ed was il advised to do this”

    That’s as may be, but Ed has to demonstrate sound judgement.

    If it’s the advisers who are taking all the decisions for him then it is the advisers who should stand for leadership/PM etc.

  6. James Martin says:

    I shouldn’t be shocked at Miliband’s actions, but I am. The Scum is not only hated in Merseyside, but in the homes of most active trade unionists and socialists who revile its racist right wing anti-union crap.

    But that hatred is particularly deep with anyone who has any connection with the 96 football fans whose memory was desecrated by the vile lies of that paper. In fact, I don’t think I’d seen anyone with a copy for well over a decade until I moved out of Liverpool myself and into another part of the NW and was actually shocked when I did (only momentarily, I regained enough composure to tell him just why his paper wasn’t fit to line a litter tray with).

    For Miliband to do what he did without any realisation of just how hated the Scum is tells you everything you need to know about how totally out of touch he is with real life. Yet again the professional politician who has never had a proper job in his entire life shines brightly and reminds all of us just what an utterly useless tosser he really is…

    1. Gerry says:

      James – you speak the truth!

  7. Robert says:

    If Ed did this because some of his team thought it was a good idea, then Ed mate the door is the best place for them surely Ed Miliband can see the issues or perhaps he cannot.

    The issue today is trust in the leader, can you trust him to take this country forward considering I voted for him because my Union asked me I’m partly to blame for this bloke.

    He and his brother are nightmares one has gone and sadly the other is here and leader, I cannot for the life of me seeing people trusting him, he is weak and to say he does not look the part is me being very nice.

    I think in all of my sixty three years fifty two years of being labour I’ve seen some gormless leaders and people who could not see past their elbow, but Ed is not going to win I’m sorry and the sun issue is only a small part of the reason.

    He is a puppet he’s controlled and I suspect Progress were all over him getting him to do this, and it shows he is not his own man he is Progress.

  8. John Reid says:

    Robert, Isis storm Iraq, it’s progress fully, and I was looking at the Zubrugge film of JFK getting shot in Dallas, and if you look clearly on the grassy knoll, it’s clearly progress magazine who shot him.

    Len Mcklusky clearly controls progress magazine and he tells Ed what to do, sigh…

    1. Robert says:

      John your an idiot mate. worse a Tory Lite.

      1. John reid says:

        Bob, my old Mucker, you’re a troll.

  9. PoundInYourPocket says:

    Excellent article Ben. Many of us agree but feel powerless to act.

    Ed should have followed Tony Woodly’s lead: see photo at:

    “http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2009/10/getty-tony-woodley-the-sun-unite.jpg”

  10. swatantra says:

    Shakespeare had a sonnet once… but this is nothing like the SUN. The appalling behaviour of the SUN and Ed’s equally appaling behaviour in promoting it was raised at todays UAF Conference. Big cheers when postal workers visably refused to deliver the SUN in Liverpool and environs.
    But the even more depressing and more important issue of white working class voters deserting Labour was also raised. The question is; What is going to be done about them.

    1. John reid says:

      Howies corner had a link on the UAF conference ,http://standforpeace.org.uk/extremist-speakers-at-uaf-conference-2014/

      And their live blog brought up a few views at
      The UAF conference yesterday, also makes interesting reading, a conspiracy between The Henry Jackson society, the press and Blairites, to portray the race? (That is Muslims, I thought it was a religion) as terrorists, to helpUkip, and that by ignoring Ukip, the anti Ukip vote will increase, and that by questioning immigration, it’s insulting to immigrants and encourages islamaphobia, the Muslim school story is a lie, and there’s no such thing as terrorism in Northern Iteland and any one who criticises Islam is a racist and the police are racist for prosecuting Muslims who break the law.

      Owen jones informs us that anyone who reads a Tory tabloids a fascist too!

      1. swatantra says:

        Owen just seems to be getting younger … or is it just that our police are just getting older? I’m afraid ‘moderate’ Muslims are in denial as to what is actually happening to them ie being infiltrated by extremists, and doing little about it. Even the Speaker from the Muslim Council and the bloke from the East End Mosque were in denial. Its not looking good for community relations at all.

        1. Gerry says:

          Swatantra – you surely know that Unite Against Fascism is a dreadful organisation, which has deliberately ignored Islamic fascism which in fact is way more extreme (and powerful) than the BNP variety.

          If you advocate sharia law, gender segregation, stoning to death of apostates, adulterers and gays/lesbians, and the murder of so-called blasphemers or infidels, then you most certainly are an extremist by any definition.

          It is truly hilarious to see the ridiculous Owen Jones cosying up to, and allying with people who – in the pure Islamic state of their dreams – would stone him and his boyfriend to death! You couldn’t make it up…

          And don’t get me started on seeing that sickening face of Ed Miliband holding up the hate-filled filth that is the Sun….he should be ashamed, but like so many politicians he is totally shameless..

          1. John reid says:

            Well said Gerry,apparently the Cantlebury labour PCC is an ex PCS union rep and UAF member,

            Ed miliband has now been criticised by the Sun to apologising for the photo, one more mistake he must resign let wither Harriet or Yvette take over, role on the election, and Cruddas, John Mann or Sadiq Khan standing for leader.

  11. Jacky P says:

    think u lot need to get a life the bloke was posing with the largest selling tabloid newspaper in the country supporting the national team and everyone goes mental about a tragedy that happened 25 years ago ( talk about pessimism! ) seriously can politicians do anything right for you English no wonder the country’s in such a mess populated by (abusive word deleted). not that milibands great because he ain’t but you English don’t deserve any better! 40% national election turn out come on do any of you give a shit in things that actual matter or do you all just like having a good old moan its what your good at. P.S am white male who’s family is all English ( yeh I ain’t proud ) as far back as I know so cant call me racist.

  12. Robert says:

    Jack correct but mentally ill is more like mate.

  13. John reid says:

    National election Jacky, the UE elections were t for a national event, but were available for all to vote on,

    Ed writes for the sun now and then, they apologised for the Truth article, there’s an on going inquiry, but Ed could have still criticised the sun in its columns in the past,what’s 25 years to do with it, someone wrongly convicted for then1974 IRA bombings has called on the IRA to reveal who really did it, and rightly so.

    1. Jacky P says:

      national election in 2010 got just over 40% turn out mate although the government figures will tell you 70% of registerd voters voted yet thats only 40% of the population who can vote.

      1. Matty says:

        Maths might not be your strongest suit. From the Electoral Commission in 2000 “an estimate of non-
        registration for the complete household population of England and Wales was made of
        between 8% and 9%.” So, if 70% of registered voters voted then about 64% of people over 18 voted.

        1. Jacky P says:

          yh bout right mate well done. go down your local pub n ask everyone in there who voted and you’ll find its less than 2 in 3 people, if not less, around say 64%. smart arse!!!!

  14. David Pavett says:

    There are honest mistakes and rank stupidity. I do not see how a Labour leader advertising The Sun can be seen as anything other than the latter. I am sure that Miliband is being badly advised by the suits around him but does he have nothing between his ears?

    1. PoundInYourPocket says:

      I don’t think it’s just a simple “mistake”, looks like part of a campaign to mollify the Sun and to garner favour with the D/C2 Sun readership. I’d rather he kept away from it, but as we all know Labour fear the power of the Murdoch press, believing they can’t win without their support. Remember this headline :
      “http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/40th/2735313/For-Suns-40th-birthday-we-celebrate-great-front-pages.html”

  15. Peter Rowlands says:

    Has Labour’s ‘One Nation’ come to this?

  16. Robert says:

    Labour one Nation is you may know the Progress party, the new deal fro our young comes from the Labour parties Purple book a Progress instrument to keep Blair third way going.

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