Wednesday, 22 September 2010

From 'our man' to target man - how the Guardian has turned on David Milliband

For me, one of the most interesting moments of the general election campaign came towards the end. It was during a Nick Clegg visit in South London and he was ending in his usual style by conducting interviews with regional journalists. Not being particularly interested in yet more pics of Nick talking to a TV camera, I got back on the bus to edit my pictures. A minute later, a Guardian journalist also got on the bus. I don't think she realised anyone else was there and she started a call on her mobile. The call concerned the Labour leadership election and what she referred to as the need to get 'our man' elected. At first, I had no clue as to who she was talking to or who 'our man' was. But as the conversation went on, it was clear that she was talking to a work colleague and that 'our man' referred to David Milliband. At one point she slammed Ed Balls for briefing against 'DM'.

It was interesting that, even before the general election votes had been cast or counted, the Guardian were looking to the future of Labour beyond Gordon Brown and at least some of its staff were actively involved with the David Milliband campaign which was already in full swing.

Today, coincidentally just a few days before the results of that leadership election are announced, the Guardian has published a story which implies that David Milliband was consulted about interrogations which may have included torture.

Guido suggests that the paper may have held back on the story until it could do little damage to Milliband's chances of being elected. Whether that sort of thing happened or not is something that only those within Guardian HQ will know. But what is clear is that if David Milliband is to become Labour Leader on Saturday, he will not be starting with a clean slate and has managed to lose the outright support of one of the key Labour cheerleaders within Fleet Street. For all that the Guardian endorsed Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats at the election, it is most definitely a Labour supporting journal at heart. Maybe they have taken the gamble that it is Ed Milliband who has won and they are trying to mend fences, but I would imagine that he might consider that a bit late in the day.

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