I'm not biased - the Conservative Party really has been useless lately - Jonathan Walker

I’m not biased – the Conservative Party really has been useless lately – Jonathan Walker

Academics at the London School of Economics claimed last year that the media was biased against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn .

Their report was evidence that even the brainiest of us can sometimes get it wrong.

Researchers found there was a “high level of negativity” in news reporting about Mr Corbyn, to quote LSE academic Bart Cammaerts, and said that in most newspapers “Labour voices that are anti-Corbyn outweigh those that are pro-Corbyn”.

That was no doubt true, but it wasn’t evidence of media bias against Jeremy Corbyn.

For one thing, the media periodically declares open season on politicians who are seen to be failing. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt , former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, former Education Secretary Michael Gove and former Chancellor George Osborne, all Tories, have been victims at various points in their career.

They all experienced long periods when you’d be hard-pressed to find any media coverage that wasn’t negative or hostile. Whether that’s particularly healthy is debatable, but Mr Corbyn’s experience is not unique.

Secondly, reporting of Mr Corbyn’s leadership reflected what was actually going on at the time.

His own MPs thought he was useless and were openly attempting to get rid of him.

Mr Corbyn was a poor performer in the House of Commons. Rather than challenging the Prime Minister, he simply invited the PM – David Cameron at the time – to explain what the Government was doing to help people. It was an offer Mr Cameron eagerly took up.

And he was bad on TV, where he had a habit of making statements (such as claiming “Article 50 has to be invoked now” on the day after the Brexit referendum) which then had to be contradicted or explained away by his supporters.

It meant the news was going to be bad because the reality was bad. It’s not the job of the media to balance things out by desperately seeking something positive to say.



Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at an election rally at the ICC in Birmingham.

Mr Corbyn’s leadership really was a disaster.

This leads me on to the purpose of this column. Because it’s come to my attention that one or two Conservative MPs feel coverage of politics in the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, and my writing in particular, has been a little unfair towards the Conservative Party and the Government.

As far as I can tell, there are two elements to this.

The first is that during this year’s general election , we wrote in positive terms about the Labour campaign. For example, we said that Labour had published a detailed manifesto with interesting policies. I have no idea whether the policies are actually right for the country, but it was clear where Labour stood.

We also said Mr Corbyn had attended a series of rallies which attracted large and enthusiastic crowds.

The second issue is that we reported things were going badly for Conservative leader Theresa May . She disowned a key policy in the Conservative election manifesto days after it was published, other policies were abandoned shortly after polling day and attempts to secure a Brexit deal, the most important issue facing this country at the moment, have floundered.

The Government has also overseen the disastrous introduction of Universal Credit, which may be well-intentioned but has in practice led to huge problems for some people on low incomes as well as agencies, such as council housing departments, that deal with them.

And police services which coped valiantly with years of spending cuts (possibly suggesting there was indeed some fat to be trimmed) are reaching the end of their tether – though there are signs the Government recognises this and is prepared to give them some extra money (while also ordering them to dip into their reserves).

Anyway, much of what I wrote about Labour during the general election campaign was pretty upbeat. Mr Corbyn was a lousy party leader, but he’s a great campaigner and had a great election – though he lost at the end, of course.



Pictured Prime Minister Theresa May about to speaking to Conservative Party activists on the last day of the General Election campaign at the National Conference Centre in Hampton In Arden, Solihull.

He’s also, incidentally, getting better at leading his party between polls.

And much of what I’ve written about the Conservatives, from about half-way through the general election campaign onwards, has been fairly negative, though that hasn’t stopped us celebrating good news like funding for the Midland Metro , announced in the run-up to last month’s Budget.

I make no apologies. Because, my Conservative friends, the truth is that your party has been pretty useless recently.

It may not be Mrs May’s fault. She may be in an impossible position.

But it’s still true. It’s not bias.

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