Will Stevens, a journalist, has been a member of the Labour party for 3 years. Today, he announced publicly on Comment Is Free that he was quitting the party because:
Ed Miliband is so afraid of the ‘Red Ed’ tag, he’s done nothing to challenge the austerity and anti-poor narrative of the coalition
Meanwhile, the true opposition to the government is to be found away from Westminster. David Blanchflower, Polly Toynbee and even the Institute of Directors have all made a better job of holding the coalition to account than Labour.
Will’s piece is so far the finest description of an increasing modern phenomenon that treats the low-level tittle tattle on Twitter, as the world as it is. It is the tiresome media-centric nonsense that thinks what’s happening on Twitter or in the blogosphere is somehow more important than community organising. That op/eds and thinktanks do more than the very complex work of local and national politics. That Newsnight sets the entire political agenda, not thousands of community meetings or protests about the bins, planning projects, schools or hospitals.
I really like Polly Toynbee. I have a lot of respect for her as a journalist and as someone who has fought for election. But having spent literally weeks of my life, knocking on doors in the snow, rain and wind speaking to people about their everyday concerns I find it absolutely hilarious that Will thinks that opinion pieces in the Guardian are somehow worth as much as the work of a political party going out every single weekend and talking to voters.
Will probably doesn’t know this, but this week Labour-controlled Lewisham Council (alongside an amazing civil society campaign) successfully took the Health Secretary to court and won. Our local hospital’s A&E services may now not face the axe. This means a hell of lot to hundreds of thousands of people. This news made a light ripple in the media, less than George Mudie’s comments that Will quotes.
Bubble politics is here to stay. Most voters don’t care about what’s trending on Twitter. But judging political parties by the media narrative, and not what their land armies are doing, is naive. And it’s a mistake the Conservatives are making at the moment.