When I was younger, in the old days, when honour was a thing people believed in, my mother told me:
“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”
I haven’t always lived by this rule - believe me, ask my family and friends. I am quite the expert at the cutting remark,
the bitchy aside,
the darkest shade.
But more and more recently, my mind keeps coming back to this phrase.
“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”
Can we all agree, because we’ve all done our due diligence, that Corbyn has been treated unfairly by the media as a whole. There is a hostile media landscape. If you didn’t know this, look here:
Can we all agree that Corbyn, for whatever reason, has the support of a majority of the party members?
Can we all agree that, for whatever reason, there are people who do not like Corbyn/the direction the party is going in under Corbyn?
Can we all agree that the Party needs to show unity?
The task now is to deliver a unified message, spoken by people who believe in the message. I’m not saying, and would never advocate anyone lying or saying something they did not believe in, just because someone tells them to. But I do advocate the adherence to the idea that, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t go on national television to say it!
I was watching Michael Portillo spout Corbyn policies on "This Week",
"What I think is we should go further (than investing £2bn in housing) we should build more council houses..."
While everyone, including Liz Kendall studiously avoided mentioning Corbyn's name and instead they all stared at Portillo, in wonder, as if they've never heard even the concept before!
Now, Liz Kendall is a Labour MP and she would rather let an ex-Tory MP take credit for Labour Policy, than what? Agree with the Leader of her Party???
It’s shameful, but at the same time, Liz Kendall has gone up in my estimation by the tiniest of smidgens, because she followed the 'if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing' principle and quite elegantly focused on issues.
Say I didn’t like the leader, but I believed that my party was a better bet for the country, in any form, than the current government. I would want to show unity without being dishonourable. I would look for a positive solution, things that we agreed on and promote those, steering clear of the things we disagreed on. If I was invited on a TV show, I would politely decline the invitation if it meant showing the party as a whole in a negative way. But declining a show would do nothing for my media profile and name recognition.
So I have a simple choice: Do I act for the benefit of the party or for the benefit of me?
Say I was an Editor/News Exec Producer and I wanted to create a message, but I have to show balance which means a Labour MP and a Conservative MP. I would need to find two MPs who are both repeating the same message. In the current climate, Labour MPs are queuing up to do this. Absolutely the best case scenario for a Labour hostile News Producer, because Labour supporters are instinctively suspicious of Conservative MPs, but if a Labour MP is saying it, then it must be true, mustn’t it?
I keep asking myself why some Labour MPs are willing to play the hostile media game.
Jess Phillips, for whatever personal reason, doesn’t like Jeremy Corbyn. We get it.
And Jess Phillips is entitled to her opinion.
What Jess Phillips should not be doing, what she absolutely should not be doing, if she actually cared about the Labour Party and wanted it to succeed, is go on TV and make it completely clear just how much she dislikes him.
It makes no sense to me. Who does it benefit?
It benefits the Conservative Party, because the media can keep talking about disunity in the Labour Party
It benefits the Conservative Party, because while the media are talking about disunity in the Labour Party, no-one is scrutinising them
It benefits the Conservative Party, because the longer the media can keep talking about disunity in the Labour Party, the more people are going to get sick of talking about disunity in the Labour Party and sick of the Labour Party.
It benefits Jess Phillips, because in a hostile media landscape, programme makers want a Labour MP on to talk trash/make funny faces about the Labour Leader, which leads to more TV appearances.
It benefits Jess Phillips, because all publicity is good publicity, because love you or hate you, people know your name.
I believe that, for the benefit of the party, anyone not wholly on board with the broad strokes of True Labour policies and or personnel, should stay out if the limelight and off the telly for the next few months, so that they can send out a unified positive message of the True Labour vision.
The next time you see a Labour MP on a TV show playing the hostile media game, ask yourself, why are they there? Who do they really want to benefit?