Puttin’ it down

I’ve been mounting a rather ineffectual boycott of the Guardian ever since it backed the Lib Dems in the election campaign. Boycotting buying it, that is – I’ve still got the iPhone app, and there are copies kicking around various places I frequent, like the Members’ tearoom or friends’ houses. So I’ve seen it enough to know that it hasn’t yet emblazoned a great big ‘Sorry we screwed up’ on its front page.

The boycott is not so much because the paper came out for the Libs, but because of the inept way in which it did so, which confused more than a few voters into tactically voting Lib Dem in seats where it actually cost Labour a majority.

It also, with its ‘once in a lifetime chance to get PR’ line, lost us the chance of winning several seats where the Labour challenger would have made a far better MP than the Lib Dem incumbent. See Lucy Powell’s campaign in Manchester Withington, where victory looked a dead cert until the Guardian stuck its oar in, and Bristol West, where the votes ebbed away after the Guardian came out for Clegg. And Labour was offering a referendum on AV anyway, which could have put PR on the agenda for discussion too (especially if Labour had been the biggest party, with the Libs holding the balance).

I agree that the case for electoral reform has become more compelling in recent times – and will blog about that separately – but, to employ a cliche, it didn’t come up on the doorstep. The Guardian, with its absolute obsession with electoral reform, and despite praising Labour’s unequalled record on poverty in a pre-election leader column, totally overrode the concern being raised with me by my constituents about the threat to their welfare and livelihoods from a Tory  government.

Most of all, however, it’s because it was patently obvious that Clegg would end up getting into bed with Cameron. He told people he would. He couldn’t have made it clearer. To be fair, I didn’t quite predict the extent of the love-in, which brings a whole new dimension to the phrase ‘a honeymoon period’. But the Guardian was totally blinkered. And it hasn’t apologised for getting it so comprehensively wrong.

But my resolve is weakening. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, and Saturday isn’t Saturday without a Saturday Guardian. (And an iced decaf soya latte would go down well too). Perhaps just this once….

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  • Paul Duxbury  On May 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Kerry you could read it online which would sort of still be boycotting buying it 🙂

  • Stephen Towler  On May 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    After buying The Guardian for over thirty year I decided to stop after it’s decision to contradict everything else it had said by endorsing the Lib Dems. If it really believes that PR is more important than protecting jobs and defending front line services then it doesn’t deserve my money.

    Don’t weaken Kerry!

  • Quietzapple  On May 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    For some years the Guardian online’s comments columns were the preserve of people as far right as neo-nazi and anti-Labour self announced socialists, in fact almost anyone but those who supported the Government.

    We were few, it isn’t usual to comment unless one is disapproving of what is being done or not done.

    The owe Labour and me a big apology.

    We’d have lost anyway, and the Tories might have won, which they scarcely did, for the Economy and perceptions of HMG’s handling of it pretty strictly determine General parliamentary electoral success.

    Vote Guardian with your money, they’ll be supporting the Tories next time, not just Clegg’s National Liberals.

  • Miguel González Szamomki  On May 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Kerry,

    I’ve been trying to get in contact with you via e-mail /facebook / twitter, regarding the situation of Kipper the Pony who lives on College Lane in Fishponds (a new part of you constituency). It would really help to have our local MP on board trying to save the field being sold to the UWE for car parking, especially when they plan to leave the site in the next 18 months.

    Thank you

    • kerrymccarthy  On May 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      Yes, I’ve received your email and asked a caseworker to make some enquiries. Have also replied to you on Facebook now (bit it behind with Facebook, it becomes rather unmanageable very quickly!) Will be back in touch on Monday.

  • Brian Hughes  On May 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I don’t think you can really blame the Guardian for confusing “more than a few voters into tactically voting Lib Dem in seats where it actually cost Labour a majority”.

    One of the many rookie errors of our woeful campaign this year was to fail to get the message across to voters in Lab / Con marginals that voting Lib Dem is a waste of time. Contrast that with the Libs where I live in a Lib / Con marginal; every single bit of literature they put out, whether for our local or parliamentary elections, featured prominently the “two horse race” message.

    One of many little lessons that our campaign managers shouldn’t have had to learn. I wonder if anyone will remember in 2015?

    And, whilst I’m harrumphing in ‘what went wrong’ mode (sorry to stray so far off topic), if you get the chance, could you whisper in Alicia Kennedy’s ear that ‘contacts’ need to be measured in terms of quality rather than merely quantity…

  • Jonathan Dower  On June 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    You sound disappointingly whiney here.
    ”ost us the chance of winning several seats where the Labour challenger would have made a far better MP than the Lib Dem incumbent’… diddums. So sorry for you. You don’t think there might have been some other reasons for that rather than just the Guardian? I can’t even vote yet but it makes me despair to think I have to vote for people who can’t see faults in their own campaign, and then refuse to admit that they never once supported PR in their manifesto.
    Frankly, Labour lost their way in the last few years of government, and they dropped the ball on PR – something which has been around for so long yet whenever either the tories or labour suddenly get in on a nice majority it’s not so important any more…
    Furthermore, political science frankly dictates that the Lib Dems and Labour couldn’t have coaligned – there were simply not enough seats due to the fact both lost too many seats to the conservatives. ie. YOU LOST.
    It didn’t screw up. Face it, Labour had done its time, and if it now realises that it has grown old and stale in the eyes of the electorate, WHATEVER your statistical record (which was your problem – you always sounded in the past, and then of course you’re cursed as 13-year incumbents whenever you say “we will do this”, everyone asks “well why haven’t you?”). You didn’t offer PR at this election, and I think for the development of politics in this country it is vital that politicians, from all parties, stop being immature and actually give the electorate the option to choose. If Labour were going to do that, why didn’t they SAY SO?
    Labour now has a chance to regroup in opposition and work out what it is now. I wish you all the luck. Live with the results of an election you lost, rather than saying the Guardian lost it for you.
    Just to make it clear, I seriously dislike the tories, and I’m not too big on the Orange Book Lib Dems either, but the system as it stands, relying on an outdated voting system leading to strange power imbalances, means that this particular coalignment was inevitable and that Labour had to do much better than it did to cling onto power.
    I’m just a bit disappointed by a lot of the opposition politics at the moment. I’m optimistic about the coalition because they at least have got on and done something, working to diplomatically draw together both extremes of each party. It’s impressive, and it’s not whiney.

    I might just blog this.


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