Will Ed Miliband’s looped interview hurt him? I doubt it


10:30 am - July 2nd 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Of all the things to complain about on recent events, I’m rather puzzled so much has been made about that interview by Ed Miliband where he responds to four questions with the same answer.

The rationale is simple, and I have little doubt his team mind the interview getting out there.

What does bother me however is the sanctimonious attitude of some broadcast journalists.

First, the reasoning. In short ‘pool’ interviews (several broadcasters share the footage) like this, TV producers will pick just one response to a question while doing their rolling news coverage of the day. While I watched the #J30 protests – Ed Miliband’s response cropped up regularly as a short clip, and nothing much was said of it.

It’s common for broadcasters to just use a short soundbite from interviews. Any politician who then wants to ensure their main message gets out there is forced to repeat those points in every response.

This isn’t new – George Osborne did exactly the same last year.

Second: does Ed M’s team mind? I doubt it. Maybe around 50,000 people saw it online (now its gone everywhere) and laughed. But on BBC 6 o’clock news, his shorter soundbite was watched by over 5 million. There’s no comparison. Politicians of all stripes will continue doing this because they’re constrained by the TV format.

Furthermore, now that many more are aware the Labour leader won’t always support union strikes, when he inevitably comes out in support for the bigger Unison/Unite (Labour affiliated) union strikes, the right-wing charge of Labour ‘being in the pocket of unions’ won’t stick.

I’m not saying I approve of this strategy (I predicted it a while back) – I’m just pointing out internal Labour thinking.

Third: What does annoy me is the attempt by some journalists to get on their high horse about this ‘gaffe’. No doubt Ed Miliband could have delivered those lines better and slightly differently each time. The tragedy here is that he is quite affable in person with a good sense of humour. The bloody media handlers are leading him to seize up and look ‘robotic’.

Given the option, if I was being interviewed I’d repeat those main talking points every time too. With their focus on short soundbites and superficial packages, the broadcast media has no one to blame but itself if politicians try to game that system.

Fourth: I expect Ed Miliband’s personal ratings to go down in tomorrow’s polls, mostly because he was out of kilter with most Labour voters who backed the strikes.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Media ,Westminster

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Reader comments


“he is quite affable in person with a good sense of humour”

Exactly what used to be said about Gordon Brown, and look where /that/ got us.

Ed’s problem is that the 50,000 people who watched it were disproportionately drawn from what should be his strongest source of support, and has made more impact on them than a 5-second soundbite will have made on viewers of “the Six”.

As for the idea that throwing the teachers under the bus will make it easier for him to support Unison/Unite, pure fantasy. Now the charge will be that he only supports strikes by “Labour’s paymasters”, with his opposition to the June 30th strikes cited as evidence for this.

2. Tim Stanley

I agree with you Sunny- this was soundbite filler. The problem is that if you think about it this wasn’t really an interview- it was an interview that hte broadcasters weren’t going to play in full but were going to use one statement from on the tv news. If Ed Milliband or, for that matter George Osbourne, want to control what that statement is all they can do is keep repeating themselves to ensure that what they want to say is what they are shown as saying on the news. If it was an interview that Milliband or Osbourne knew would play in full and not be excerpted, I think their strategy would be very different.

This is basically a news journalist saying give me a quote for the six o’clock news- and Milliband and Osbourne complying with that request.

I can’t help noticing that this article (and headline) strikes a rather different tone to the one which appeared on this site when Boy George did it:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/10/27/watch-osborne-the-robot-repeats-himself-4-times/

Jeez Sunny, your attempts to spin on behalf of your boss are pretty lame. Here are some more honest Labour appraisals:

http://twitter.com/#!/Scarletstand/statuses/86418170742706176

“it’s like a bloody hostage video.”

http://www.labourlist.org/why-ed-miliband-is-just-plain-wrong-on-strikes

“It was cringeworthy viewing of the highest order. It evoked the clumsy attempts of the Brown years. It’s a video nasty to rival Brown on expenses and Cameron’s Gay Times interview.”

http://twitter.com/#!/ns_mehdihasan/statuses/86416742682853376

“Unbelievably awful, wooden and repetititve interview by Ed M. Weird. Just weird.”

Plenty more from all corners of the party. It is really something when even Mehdi Hasan is not trying to defend him and you are.

5. Mike Killingworth

The right-wing charge of Labour ‘being in the pocket of unions’ won’t stick.

Sorry, Sunny, but it will stick with anyone who is anti-Union and anti-Labour – and there are certainly far more people in those groups than there are Unionists or Labour supporters. People who are genuinely apolitical don’t remember politicians’ speeches – they do remember what the media tells them to.

And the media will focus on EM’s shortcomings, real or imagined, because it can’t agree on a story about the coalition – is it a “national” government saving us from those wicked socialists and foreigners, or is it a sell-out which needs to replaced by UKIP sharpish?

6. blackwillow1

Ed should be concerned less about the interview,( Sunny made the point very well that this is standard ops,)and more concerned about the fact that he has set the ball rolling, and it’s crashing its way through the last remnants of any link between working people and the Labour party, or rather, the party leadership. What is he doing, is he trying to alienate the people he needs, to stand any chance of winning a general election? Or has he decided that the opinions of the masses are no longer valid, because we choose to speak out instead of sitting on the fence,(his favoured position, it seems). The cherry on top has to be that photograph in yesterdays Daily Mirror, Cameron, Clegg and our very own Ed, having a good giggle. They say a picture paints a thousand words, time will tell if that includes political obituaries. Ed M, you are a fucking idiot, and a big disappointment.

I very much agreed with the author of this post and was initially writing to comment that I was glad that SOMEONE had understood the very good reason behind saying the same thing over and over.

But then I saw Colin M’s comment:
_________
“I can’t help noticing that this article (and headline) strikes a rather different tone to the one which appeared on this site when Boy George did it:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/10/27/watch-osborne-the-robot-repeats-himself-4-times/
_________

Shame on you Sunny for you feckless political spin.

8. blackwillow1

@7: Exactly, Sunny backs Ed because they both believe that spin is integral to any political strategy in the modern era. Have they learned nothing from the Blair years, have they forgotten that, among many reasons, the spin doctors were a signifigant factor that drove many labourites away from the party, seeing them as further proof that Labour were no better than the tories. Rather than dealing in truth and standing by your beliefs, Labour chose to go down ‘Spinners Road’, confirming their abandonment of all things socialist.

But the video is hilarious. Ed Miliband is asked four different questions and each time he just repeats himself.

Either Miliband has nothing else to say or that is some serious attempt at message discipline.

Sorry, Sunny, but you’re wrong. The performance I just watched is a strong confirmation the Miliband has nothing to offer as party leader and that Labour will not represent me in the next election. G’bye Ed. Hello Greens?

This is the first I’ve heard about the issue Sunny. I think that speaks volumes actually.

12. blackwillow1

@9: True, it is quite amusing to watch, and to think after trhe leadership election, Ed was full of talk about integrity and regaining peoples’ trust, admitting the mistakes of the past, blahblahblahblahddyblah! So full of shit it beggars belief, I think Cherub may have a point about joining the green brigade. Hmm, wonder if there’s any chance they might link up with the other small, left wing groups. Labour, under Ed at least, are not the alternative, so now we need a real alternative to the’SIMPs’, (STANDARD ISSUE MEDIOCRE POLITICIANS).

Its just so sad, though, isn’t it? Labour will get nowhere without its activists. They became disillusioned under Blair and Brown. This crap is just playing to a narrow Westminster clique while doing nothing to show that Labour will do anything for its grassroots supporters and activists. Does Ed really think the next election can be won on the telly?

Watching it again, I wonder whose advice Ed was taking. This is bad enough to have been written by the boy Burnham.

It wasn’t a gaffe, its the cynical face of modern politics where getting your spindoctor’s soundbite to the 100,000 or so midlle class floating voters who decide the outcome of general elections in this country is all that matters. Interviews, where politicians answer questions asked by interviewers are a thing of the distant past. Miliband is a tower of jelly, after a year of doing sod all his first speech managed to equate a legitimate disability claimant with sleazy bankers and now this. Pick any party you like, they’re all run by public school slimeballs who think its their birthright to hold office despite having no idea what to do with it when they have it beyond following the orders of the super rich. If Miliband survives to the next general election it’ll be another loss for Labour.

15. Maltese Cross

Sunny spins “The bloody media handlers are leading him to seize up and look ‘robotic’.”

Lol. It’s his handlers’ fault.

PS – Views are approaching 100,000 now.

16. blackwillow1

@13@14: Sad it is indeed, and yes, it does appear that the opinion of the floaters has become the over-riding concern of all the major parties. What are the options then, do we hope that, 1: Ed gets his head removed from his arse(2000/1). 2:The Green Party form alliances with other left-leaning groups and offer up something worthwhile. 3: Revolution! We take parliament, drag the coalition through a kangaroo court, put the royals on NMW and install a super computer as president. That way, when things go wrong, we can genuinely claim that it’s “a ‘technical problem’, and we’re working on it.”

Either Miliband has nothing else to say or that is some serious attempt at message discipline.

That’s exactly right. It’s message discipline in both cases. As I said above.

Sure, I poked fun at Osborne doing it and I also cringed when Ed M did it. But I also understand why both did it and why it makes sense from their perspective. The two are not mutually exclusive

At last, a plan!

Exactly what used to be said about Gordon Brown, and look where /that/ got us.

Actually, it wasn’t. Brown was awful when talking to people.

Ed’s problem is that the 50,000 people who watched it were disproportionately drawn from what should be his strongest source of support,

Again, I disagree. These are the most politicised people – they’re either already quite pro Labour, or already way to the left of Labour or hate the party because they’re right-wing. A significant vote-changer? I doubt it TBH. The 6mil on BBC News matter more.

Jeez Sunny, your attempts to spin on behalf of your boss are pretty lame.

given that I criticised him heavily last week for not supporting the strikes – this is a pretty lame line of attack.
Yes, I know its shocking, but I don’t always agree with Emma and Mehdi.

. The performance I just watched is a strong confirmation the Miliband has nothing to offer as party leader

Why not read some speeches instead of basing your entire political reasoning on one short interview?

Sunny,
Thanks for stating the info about technique for message management in the media. Your explanation is very clear.

But I think the bigger and more important aspect is that the Labour Party should speak up sincerely for ordinary people.
This includes workers; both in the private sector and in the public sector. Sure, the Tories in their beloved ‘divide & rule’ way would love to play workers against workers, and union versus non-union, but, to Labour, all workers should matter. The Labour Party is not the same as the TUC.

The Labour Party should also speak up for fairness for ordinary “customers” (in similar fashion to the Tory “fairness for taxpayers”). Unless I’m mistaken, customers and taxpayers are pretty much the same people. Yet, it appears that some people are being led to identify themselves only as taxpayers – ergo, the party for them is the Conservatives. Pro-business entrepreneurial neoliberal New Labour Blairites have a lot to answer for, of which they appear strangely oblivious.

P.S. some interesting comments from others below, especially blackwillow1 and Cherub!
I, too, wonder about the quality of Ed’s advisors. Electorally obsessed, they seem to be challenged with weighing up a potential of some 8 million or so left-of-centre voters …. plus 2 million disabled/sick …. and a few million apolitical bods who’d just like a mainstream party to be straightforward and sensible …. versus a potential haul of thousands of Mail/Express/Telegraph/Sun readers in marginal constituencies.
The strategy of Ed’s advisors in 2011 seems to indicate that they wish to believe that lefties will have no option but to vote for Labour.

21. Mr S. Pill

IMO Labour missed a golden opportunity here to redefine the debate, away from private vs public, to switching the focus onto workers rights across the board. Why is private sector pension provision so horrendous? What can be done to fix that? What about the rights of agency and temp workers? Alongside highlighting the contempt that the government has for its employees in schools, etc. It would’ve been a unifying rallying cry, something for everyone to back and support and would’ve given the media something to chew over rather than this political farce of a Labour leader trotting out the same line, over and over again, and becoming a laughing stock in the process. Maybe only a laughing stock to a few, but refusing to support workers not once but five times in a row… hell, even Paul only denied that he knew Christ 3 times.

22. Torquil Macneil

Oh lord it is depressing when the best that Milibanana’s claque can come up with is: ‘Ed Miliband is not much worse than George Osborne, so shut up!’

23. Mike Killingworth

[21] Mr Pill, it was Peter who denied Jesus three times. Paul never met him, or if he did, the Gospels say nowt about it.

first, if you’re just as bad as the enemy it doesn’t necessarily make you any good – either you are also the enemy or they aren’t.

second, the strikes show the splits in the union movement – Miliband didn’t offer his support to this week’s strikes because they were organised by non-affiliated unions, but you argue he will when affiliated unions do. Which also makes this an admission he is ‘in the pocket of the unions’.

third, Miliband chooses how he presents himself in public every time he steps out, so he has nobody to blame but himself. It’s not a tragedy, it’s the difference between what he believes and what is – it’s effectively an indictment of Miliband’s judgement.

fourth, Ed Miliband’s personal rating will go down, but not just because of the way this event was reported, rather because it continues a trend which is symptomatic of the way he is failing to lead his party.

What amuses me is the way Sunny writes about his annoyance at the ‘sanctimonious attitude’ of some of his colleagues in the media. Unhappy Sunny either has no sense of irony and self-awareness or is in the same pocket as awkward Ed.

I predict another relaunch for Ed Miliband is in the offing. That’ll be double figures since he took the job about a year ago.

Now is the time to make up your mind – should Ed Miliband stay or should he go?

But I think the bigger and more important aspect is that the Labour Party should speak up sincerely for ordinary people.

I agree, and I think that’s the real debate. I don’t really have much time for people who see one short interview and think that says all the Labour party is saying on various issues.

@25
Labour is sincere, but ordinary people have learnt by hard experience not to trust sincerity. And we are constantly relearning the lesson.

there’s lots of other hings that have damaged Ed this is the last of em.

28. the a&e charge nurse

[14] “It wasn’t a gaffe, its the cynical face of modern politics where getting your spindoctor’s soundbite to the 100,000 or so midlle class floating voters who decide the outcome of general elections in this country is all that matters” – hear, hear, Schmidt – Charlie Brooker had me snorting into my coffee this morning.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/03/charlie-brooker-stop-ed-miliband

Apparently some sort of reality deficit is gathering pace?

Some blame ‘media handlers’ but I believe if you want to act like a twat at least be adult enough to accept personal responsibility for your own twattishness – or is that expecting too much nowadays?

29. the a&e charge nurse

[25] “I don’t really have much time for people who see one short interview and think that says all the Labour party is saying on various issues” – OK, when he’s not doing a robot impression what else has Ed said about the strike that will galvanise ordinary labour voters?

30. Mr S. Pill

@23

I stand corrected!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Will Ed Miliband's looped interview hurt him? I doubt it http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  2. antigherkin

    Will Ed Miliband's looped interview hurt him? I doubt it http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  3. sunny hundal

    Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  4. Colin Waude

    “@sunny_hundal: Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://t.co/aMGuQyn” <~ exactly my point

  5. Soph Higgins

    Hmm. RT @sunny_hundal: Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  6. Thul

    Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  7. Emma Burnell

    “@sunny_hundal: Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://t.co/iNCdw0I” pretty much nailed

  8. Dànaidh Ratnaike

    Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  9. Rosie

    RT @sunny_hundal: Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  10. Andy Lewis

    @darrenhayman I'm sure you're already on this but @SunnyHundal proffers a reasonable explanation http://bit.ly/mMUsp6 But he's still a c*ck.

  11. Jonathan James

    Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  12. Jonathan James

    Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him, and I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  13. Simon T

    what was he thinking? Twerp “@libcon: Will Ed Miliband's looped interview hurt him? I doubt it http://t.co/I4L7Mtg”

  14. The Partisan

    Ha, ha, ha Hundal. http://t.co/mYfflba

  15. yorkierosie

    Will Ed Miliband’s looped interview hurt him? I doubt it | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/7PjXVcH via @libcon

  16. Chris Nicholson

    Interesting. This is @libcon's take on Ed Miliband's looped interview. http://t.co/OEF14MZ

  17. : planetpmc

    Will Ed Miliband’s looped interview hurt him? I doubt it http://fb.me/CtbcTsWd

  18. Maureen Czarnecki

    Will Ed Miliband’s looped interview hurt him? I doubt it | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/7PjXVcH via @libcon

  19. R Gordon

    RT @Rosiecosy RT @sunny_hundal Why Ed Miliband’s looped interview won't hurt him… http://bit.ly/mMUsp6 < interesting

  20. Soho Politico

    Sunny Hundal: Ed Miliband's voice in tough times. http://t.co/OpEW38g

  21. Cory Hazlehurst

    RT @SohoPolitico: Sunny Hundal: Ed Miliband's voice in tough times. http://bit.ly/j4QoRO

  22. sunny hundal

    @Kevin_Maguire I don't think it was that bad Kevin – here's why http://t.co/j2OdrCh

  23. sunny hundal

    @ns_mehdihasan PS, disagree with your assessment of the Miliband interview here. I would have done the same http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  24. Snivelling Coward

    @solobasssteve http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/02/will-ed-milibands-looped-interview-hurt-him-i-doubt-it/

  25. Samuel Seaford

    @PeterMannionMP @Dicko1212 I agree,it was an awful interview. Some on the left thought it was great http://t.co/gGdgwRH I disagree

  26. David Prescott

    Spot on piece from @sunny_hundal on Ed and THAT interview http://t.co/35R7lY5”

  27. Peter Mannion 'MP'

    .@LiberalConspiracy tries to show George O does same in interviews as Ed Miliband. Er NO, George shows HOW TO DO IT… http://t.co/fjphcmR

  28. Peter Mannion 'MP'

    …No. George here gets msg over BUT has the wit to vary vocab, supporting info, and 'bridges' http://t.co/fjphcmR. #Ed looksastuckmuppet

  29. sunny hundal

    Spot on piece from @sunny_hundal on Ed and THAT interview http://t.co/35R7lY5”

  30. Oasis Caretaker

    Spot on piece from @sunny_hundal on Ed and THAT interview http://t.co/35R7lY5”

  31. David Walmsley

    Good article about milibands loop, if the media did its job properly politicians wouldn't need to give soundbites http://t.co/B7hpWQj

  32. Raf Noboa y Rivera

    RT @DavidPrescott Spot on piece from @sunny_hundal on Ed and THAT interview http://t.co/35R7lY5”

  33. Clive Burgess

    Will Ed Miliband’s looped interview hurt him? I doubt it http://fb.me/CtbcTsWd

  34. Daniel Key

    …Although, to be fair @damongreenITV, #Osbourne did exactly the same thing and no mainstream media picked up on it… http://bit.ly/ihgHQX

  35. Jacob Richardson

    @sunny_hundal is right about Ed Miliband's roboticism. It only exemplifies the inherently void attention of the media. http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  36. sunny hundal

    @sunny_hundal is right about Ed Miliband's roboticism. It only exemplifies the inherently void attention of the media. http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  37. bill bold

    @sunny_hundal is right about Ed Miliband's roboticism. It only exemplifies the inherently void attention of the media. http://bit.ly/mMUsp6

  38. Chris Nicholson

    @DavidAllenGreen I know you like political balance, David, so here's George Osbourne doing much the same thing. http://t.co/nDBnBBo

  39. The Town Crier of the Human Soul « Max Dunbar

    […] narrative and nothing else. Ed was mocked for this but the technique is widespread. George Osborne did the same thing last year, but with more skills. It’s only Miliband’s lack of finesse that let him […]

  40. Alex Woodhead

    @Lindsay_Megan It passed me by at the time, but google quickly cleared things up. http://t.co/zwVhozU It seems everybody does it…

  41. scarletstandard.co.uk » Hello world!

    […] one tactically, even a staunch loyalist like me won’t say he delivered it well. Sunny Hundal is right in his contention that that kind of interview is hardly new, but media practices are changing, and […]





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