How to Fabricate Front Page News – Just Put 16 Selected Right Wing Bigots in a Room 313

This is the story of some squalid little men (and women), but it is a vital insight into the nexus of the political and corporate media elite. The Guardian, New Statesman and Huffington Post today all run major stories around a “focus group” study in Nuneaton which revealed that voters think Corbyn is “scruffy” and “old-fashioned”. This is deemed front page news.

The publicity was obviously supposed to coincide with Labour losing Nuneaton council, its most marginal council surrounded by Tory territory, in the council elections on Thursday. However Labour held Nuneaton. That did not stop the New Statesman article, by “research” authors James Morris and Ian Warren, from going ahead with the immortal phrase “While today’s Labour party has no hope of representing Nuneaton”. Err, it is still in control of the Council.

The publication is also timed to coincide with a revolt by Labour MPs at this afternoon’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The idea is that the “research” would prove that election losses were Corbyn’s fault. That is toned down now after they beat the Tories outside Scotland, but I am told that Progress MPs are still briefed to flourish the Guardian and raise this “research” today. That is meant to get this “research” onto the evening news.

But when you look at the research very closely, you realise that it is absolute rubbish. James Morris and Ian Warren are total charlatans.

Firstly, the whole sample is 16 people. That is right, 16 people. They are supposed all to be ex-Labour, though there is little evidence of that in the transcripts. What is not in dispute is that they are all Tory voters.

So you have 16 Tory voters, in two groups male and female. But out of 16 people there is not one retired person. Not one young voter. Not one person unemployed. And every single one is in a nuclear heterosexual relationship with children. Every single one is a homeowner.

Furthermore their sources of information are (by order most mentioned) the Daily Mail, Sky, the BBC and the Sun. Only one out of 16 mentions the internet as a source of political information.

People who voted Tory constitute already just 24% of the general population. Exclude retired, tenants, single, childless, gay, young and internet savvy people as well, and you get down to a deliberately chosen 5% of the population from which to choose your sample. You then get these 16 carefully chosen, blinkered right wing bigots into a room. Nevertheless something still goes wrong for your research. Two of the 16 (in the female group) state a firm intention to vote Labour next time (while a larger number state they would consider it).

So what do you do if you are a charlatan like James Morris or Ian Warren? You leave that in the transcript, which no journalist will ever read, but you exclude the fact that 2 of the 16 will vote Labour next time from your findings! And you studiously lead the conversation with the group round to the idea that others who are considering voting Labour next time might be more likely to do so with a change of leader.

The idea that locking two carefully selected groups of totally unrepresentative right wingers into a room to self-reinforce their bigoted opinions, in any way constitutes real research, is utterly laughable. The only conclusion is that having carefully selected the people in all of the UK the most likely to dislike Jeremy Corbyn, they dislike Jeremy Corbyn. Next week, a group of young unemployed people from the Easter Road will give their views on David Cameron.

Needless to say the so called journalists who have published this nonsense did no investigation whatsoever of the farcical nature of the “research”. They just published the press release, as witnessed by the fact they all use exactly the same quotes from scores of pages of transcript.

An important question is who paid for this. Obviously it is a Blairite production, but where did the money come from? Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research are credited, and they are extremely expensive. I asked Ian Warren who funded it. First he replied “I did”, then when I asked him who funded Greenberg Quinlan Rosner he stated there was “something sinister” about the question. I asked again twice, but answer came there none. Astonishingly, “who paid for this” did not occur to the mainstream journalists who uncritically published Morris and Warren’s nonsense.

This is a deeply sinister story. Right wing Labour figures hope desperately their own party will lose in Nuneaton. So they commission (and presumably pay for) ludicrously skewed research to show Jeremy Corbyn caused the loss. This absolute non-news item, that a tiny selected group of completely unrepresentative right wingers do not like Jeremy Corbyn, is then plastered on front pages by their Blairite media contacts to coincide with a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting today, in order to further the slow motion coup against Corbyn.

It is actually quite sickening. All of those involved – including the Guardian and New Statesman editors – are very low people indeed.

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313 thoughts on “How to Fabricate Front Page News – Just Put 16 Selected Right Wing Bigots in a Room

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  • Manda

    “It is actually quite sickening. All of those involved – including the Guardian and New Statesman editors – are very low people indeed.”

    Couldn’t have put it better.

  • Stephen outhwaite

    Why Blairite? I agree with this piece but query the conclusion, which seems another attempt to further division in the party. Judging from the comments it’s been successful. As it was based around the Tories winning Nuneaton, coupled with the Tories being the only people to benefit from division in Labour, then it would seem obvious that this was aTory dirty tricks department production from start to finish. That includes this article and you Craig Murray, who completely ignore the obvious Tory backers in favour of stirring up division in the party. The Tories are the real enemy not just to Labour but to the British people and indeed the country itself. Anyone muddying those waters goes on the list of enemies with them.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      The Tories are not the only people who would benefit from division in Labour. There are a large number of Labour MPs who do not want Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour Party. The more division they can stir up, including the losing of key councils, the better their chances of replacing him as leader.

      “Anyone muddying those waters goes on the list of enemies with them.”

      What list of enemies? Yours? I must say I find this phrase pretty sinister.

  • Charlotte Peters Rock

    Thank you Craig Murray. Good to see you still operate in the area of exposing the truth. I followed your ambassdorial truth telling. The twisters couldn’t cope well on that occasion. We need you to continue. Please.

  • carole dean

    Would you expect anything else? I wouldn’t. JC was voted in by most of the people I know who, became sick of the way the Labour Party was going in the Blair days. I joined the party to vote for change and I want it. All these people who attack him are guarding their incomes and positions. We are sick of New Labour and want the one which really looks after the working people of this country.

  • Ben Bruce

    Whilst it’s good to see someone expanding further on the headlines, I feel it’s counter productive to label the respondents as bigots. I certainly didn’t find much in the transcripts that would allow you to call all 16 of them bigoted. It’s this sort of divisive thinking that has become endemic on both sides and is stopping us from having productive, progressive political debate, and undermines what is a very valid point that you’ve brought to the table.

  • WHS

    Where to start with this? First, there could have been no way this was designed to coincide with Labour losing Nuneaton & Bedworth. Only half the council was up for election.The half up for election split Labour 14 – Tory 2 – Green 1. The other half, not up for election, split exactly the same way. In other words, the Tories would have had to gain 15 of the 17 seats up for election to gain control from Labour. This would have meant a national Labour meltdown of 1968 proportions. No-one was predicting that, so this research was not calculatedly timed as you assert.

    Second, it was a focus group and it was (as was declared from the start) a focus group of people who had all voted Labour in 2005, most had voted Labour in 2010 but all had voted Tory in 2015. If you are going to understand how to win back those Labour has lost, it’s probably best to focus on Labour to Tory switchers. If you sit 16 paid up Labour members who all voted for Corbyn in the leadership contest in a room and ask them how to win back lost voters, you aren’t going to get far. Ditto if you sit 16 people in a room who have voted Tory all their lives.

    Third, you get in the jibe that “they are all Tory voters”, but it has been explained to you they are meant to be. They are all also ex-Labour voters. The focus group was chosen by design to interview Lab to Con switchers. You say there is no evidence in the transcript, but you have no evidence this is not true.

    Fourth, you talk about the lack of the unemployed, renters, gay people, the under 30s etc. If you were talking about an opinion poll you’d have a fantastic point. But focus groups aren’t about getting a demographically representative sample, especially when you have what would be a small sample size (for an opinion poll). This isn’t about getting percentage support figures, it’s about getting impressions and opinions. If it turns out the bulk of the Lab to Con switchers at the 2015 election were straight white homeowners, then in a focus group you ask straight white homeowners why they voted that way. If on the other hand you want an opinion poll of headline voting intentions in Nuneaton, you ask a wider sample.

    Fifth, there’s a lot of stuff about Blairite bias and where the money came from and vague assertions of this being part of a ‘sinister’ coup against Corbyn. This is just childish. If you have real evidence of the views in the focus group being twisted and misrepresented, show it.

    Sixth, if you’re a member of the SNP, why are you bothered if there is a coup against the leader of the Labour Party or not? Would you be outraged if pollsters in Scotland were trying to launch a coup against Kezia Dugdale?

  • keith robertson

    Corbyn must do something to clean out the Labour party – these Blairite 5th columnists must go – let them join the tories, where they righfully belong……………..#disgusted #frustrated

  • Roy Watson

    There’s a fairly glaring inconsistency in this article, I’m afraid: you spend the bulk of it rigorously, and rightly, searching for evidence to back up claims – your own as well as theirs – then declare your final conclusion with a blithe “obviously…”, which you know as well as I do means “I don’t have any evidence but this is what I believe so I’m going to declare it emphatically in the hope that that makes you think it’s an established fact as well”.

    I have no time whatever for Blairite anti-Corbynism, but I kinda do for due intellectual process.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    There seems to be a meme abroad that identifiably Third Way Labour MP’s are all buckling down happily to back their new leader despite some minor differences of opinion, and that they are united in their desire to end the oppressive policies of the Tories. OK, let’s run with that.

    Note also Angela Smith and Jamie Reed.

    Following the money, from an impeccably wonderful pro-Tory, anti-Labour source (the ads look as if it gets support from the JC, too):

  • Clare

    I’ve just looked through the first transcript and actually THREE women say they would vote Labour as first choice but the facilitator cannot add up and says: ‘So five Conservative, two labour.
    Also – more than one person mentions Twitter and Facebook – surely internet source of info.

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