Blinded by The Sun: Open Letter to Ed Miliband

ed the sun

Dear Ed,

Yesterday you did something really dreadful, although I doubt you realise the full significance. In the same week that members of your party, the postal workers union, senior Labour MPs and thousands of voters on Merseyside were organising a campaign to reject The Sun newspaper being delivered unsolicited through their letter boxes, you posed, grinning, with the paper. The fact that you have apparently apologised to Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, indicates that you are perhaps a little more aware of your mistake than you were yesterday, but it doesn’t even begin to touch on the real, underlying causes of this enormous error of judgement.

I don’t need to go into the reasons why that campaign was taking place – you know the reasons why The Sun is rightly despised by the overwhelming majority of your own party. So any apology should be directed, not just to the MPs within your own party, so justifiably angry – or just to the people of Merseyside who will feel so betrayed by your actions, but to the Labour Party members who pay their membership fees, go to meetings, campaign for the party and at times, defend the indefensible for the sake of party unity. This time, I don’t think you can depend on that happening – not from me, in any case. By posing with The Sun (I’m aware that it’s not the first time, but the timing this time was atrocious), you have made something snap. It should have snapped when you went along with the tabloid hysteria over Falkirk, but the back-peddling and the soothing words from some senior union leaders held it back. No more. This was an absolute betrayal of your own party, its history and any hopes that we might have had that you had broken with New Labour.

So what on earth was the thinking behind it? Unfortunately, I think it is in your political DNA. For all the talk of a “better politics”, you are patently incapable of divorcing yourself from the triangulation and spin of Blairism. Why should any of us be surprised? Politically speaking, you were brought up, not in the household of Ralph and Marion, but in the house of Blair. Your politics, and more importantly, your method, were incubated by New Labour. You are trapped – able to understand, theoretically at least, that New Labour is finished – but not having anything else in your armoury but what that education taught you. No doubt the unelected advisors in your office told you that by posing with The Sun, you would be inoculating yourself against the worst of their attacks in the run up to the election. The reality is, however, that you’ve fallen into the biggest trap going. You have sacrificed the support of some of Labour’s most loyal supporters, activists and voters at the altar of the tabloid press – and their anti-working class, anti-union, migrant bashing, homophobic, sexist agenda. You’ve sacrificed that support because you’re too scared to go to the country with a moderately social democratic agenda, facing down the hostility of The Sun.  It’s a sign of weakness, not strength and, no matter what the highly paid strategists in your office tell you, it’s a disaster. It’s like crawling to a bully in the hope that they will avoid picking on you. That might elicit sympathy, but as a leader of the Labour Party, we’ll need more than that to win the election, never mind build a better society.

What’s more, you looked awkward. That’s no surprise, because I’d hope the memory of the 96 was weighing heavily on your brain as the camera lens shut. The huge frustration we all feel, Ed, is that we know you’re not a Tony Blair. For Blair, this would be an easy choice. He never pretended to give a damn about the membership or the heartlands of Labour support. In fact, he set himself up in opposition to the grassroots membership – and spent an awful lot of time trying to (and succeeding in) destroying democracy within the party.  But you said that you were going to bring a better kind of politics; that you were trying to create a party that could “breathe”. I can’t be the only one who feels that the suffocating atmosphere of New Labour (of spin, of servitude to the tabloids, of management speak) is still very much with us.

So, why don’t I just leave, you may ask. If my disappointment and anger is so strong with you and the people around you, why on earth would I stay in the Labour Party? The answer is quite simple. It’s because my Labour Party is a different Labour Party. It is the thousands of ordinary members who still believe in socialism, no matter how beaten down they have been by the experience of New Labour. It is the party of John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and Katy Clark, who get out on picket lines, engage with working people, disabled people, the poor and the victimised and speak for them on a daily basis. It is also a party with a past – a proud tradition which includes not only the likes of Bevan and the great and good, but grassroots socialists who have built this party, not with the help of the right-wing tabloid press, but in the teeth of their hatred. They were the real Labour Party – and I believe that when the dregs of New Labourism have finally been washed away, we can carry on the fight to build that party again.

Yours in disappointment,

Ben Sellers

City of Durham CLP



35 thoughts on “Blinded by The Sun: Open Letter to Ed Miliband

  1. G.Routledge says:

    This is a brilliant letter Ben, thank you for writing it. It reflects completely my own view (and many others of Labour members and supporters I have spoken to.) Sadly for some it may be the final straw. It will be interesting to see how the leadership handle this, and whether they attempt to sweep it under the carpet.

  2. MH says:

    See to me this enforces the point of view that a vote for Labour means no change, business as usual. Even after the collapse of neo-liberal ideas with the financial crisis and the emerging climate problems, the response we get is, business as usual. The trade unions need to hurry up and form a new political party, the people are crying out for a party to represent them, not big business!


      Ditto to the above. Are the leadership Thick? Do they have minders or are they just been incorporated into the capitalist system.

  3. Jackie says:

    Brilliant article and I could sense the sadness you feel at having had to write it.
    I was a longtime LibDem activist for 20 years and fell out of love with them during the 2005/7 backstabbing & leadership debacles, so I know how much it hurts when your own party leaves you behind.
    I’m looking for a home for my vote and have been flirting with Labour, attending events and reading articles and recently, I’d almost decided to join and volunteer for the duties that are carried out by people who are generally unknown and unseen but who make all the difference to a party.
    This has sent be right back to the beginning again, not only the appalling lack of judgement shown by Miliband in allowing himself to be used by Murdoch (didn’t he pledge to smash the Murdoch empire?) but to then give out such a weasley non apology focused mainly on Merseyside, when there are millions of us all over the country who believe The Sun is an icon of everything that is wrong with our brilliant country.

  4. Steve Thompson says:

    Just about guaranteed to keep the nasty party in power for another few years wreaking their havoc? Stupid, stupid man!

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  6. Collin Purvis says:

    ….yes….well said Ben. I really want to believe that Ed has been “looking after” the position of leader until an election winning replacement could be found. Objectively, I doubt he can lead the party into government.
    Making immature mistakes like this one may indicate the whole network of advisors also need to be replaced, and re-define the party remit.

  7. jim says:

    understand the point but do you want the public thinking we are owned by the unions again meaning unelectable I hate the sun like everyone else but I am not going to have a go at ed as that is what the sun knew the reaction of the labour supporters were going to be I should think you should pen a letter to cameron, clegg ,and that moron who runs the ukip you see what is happening with labour supporters turning on ed that is what they want so we dont vote for labour we have tories in power again is that what you all want for christ sake give the man the benefit of the doubt and stop making it so bloody public I am also a labour party member and am proud to be a member but I wont give the scum sun any ammunation for them to use

    • AT42 says:

      ‘do you want the public thinking we are owned by the unions again meaning unelectable.’

      It is our silence that makes us unelectable. The Labour Party is, from its very foundation the political wing of the TU movement. A movement that was responsible for huge gains for working people.

      The Tories and particularly their mouthpiece the Murdoch press hate the unions and while Labour has been silent have been busy teaching people to hate them too.

      We need a leader with the guts to answer their lies and remind people of the great humane history of the Labour Movement (the party and the unions) and most important start the fight to regain the gains we have lost.

      By ‘not giving the scum any ammunition’ you remain silent and only their voice is heard.

      You don’t win that way.

      • MH says:

        No wonder the amount of people who go and vote is declining, this pandering to big business, judging whether something is good or not by how much its supports big business, is an anathema to working people. It appears that the economy is only there to make the rich richer not to support civil society, working people have no representation any more.

        There is something in what Russell Brand says,when he asks,’are you not fed up with the lies and the deceit’? These Oxford & Cambridge elite are destroying democracy.

  8. Badger says:

    For me, it is the last straw. The Greens and Unity seem to be the holders of the socialist ideal now. My hope is that the unions realise this and throw their weight behind them.Abandoning this sad excuse of a leader, and remnants of a once great party, in the same way he has abandoned the unions and the Labour vote.

  9. Stuart Sorensen says:

    Reblogged this on Stuartsorensen's Blog and commented:
    My thoughts exactly. The labour party was born out of a great tradition of fairness. New Labour betrayed that tradition but genuine, compassionate, mutually supportive socialism still remains. And it will rise again.

  10. Badger says:

    @JIM . We ARE the unions, we ARE the public and we ARE allowed to have a voice. Are you saying that its OK for business to back the Tories to the tune of millions upon millions, but the very organisations that started the Labour party in the beginning, the unions, have no place in politics ?? I find your position astounding for someone who supposedly a Labour supporter. And what do you mean by ”stop making it so bloody public” Socialist do their politics out in the open, Nazis and the Tories do it behind closed doors.
    Labour supporters did not switch to UKIP , it was the Tories and the Limp Dems who got hit. Labour supporters did not vote because we have a clset Tory for a leader. I realise that this is not an English exam, but a few capital letters, full stops, sentences and paragraphs might help your cause. All in all I think you are just a WUM, ”brother”.

    • jim says:

      firstly I dont know what the hell is “wum”. What do you find astounding not backing unions or members who want to go back to the good old 70’s? I KNOW THE UNIONS PUT IN MONEY TO THE LABOUR PARTY, what I am saying is in the past they have more or less tried to blackmail labour either do what we want or no funding is that what we should do? do everything what the unions want? labour brought in a lot of policies to help workers including the minimum wage. Before Blair changed labour (which he did) we were unelectable simple as that, I believe we should show support in business but at the same time not letting them away with murder. What I meant by “stop making it bloody public” fine share an opinion but this” I’m not voting labour because of ed” or any of that will give the tories ammunation they want for the supporters to turn on labour . Is the greens going to form a goverment? is any other apart from labour going to? DOUBT IT! He’s not a closet tory what rubbish, half of the unions are pissed off because they thought ed being voted as leader he would be their puppet, thats whats annoying them and I will write anyway I like okay?. And by the way you spell closet CLOSET AND NOT CLSET just thought Id tell you, you know not an english exam you know? I am a labour member and also donates as well but because I do it dosen’t mean I tell ed what to do you know?. Tony blair wasn’t perfect Iraq etc, but I will say he made labour electable that I understand but, the same time I realise you have an opinion like I have and I respect that.

      • MH says:

        Jim, your view of trade unions as you state is of 1970s trade unionism, it’s not what we have today. Let’s be clear, since 1979 Britain has been following the political and economical ideas encompassed in the term Neo-Liberalism. It is by following these ideas that we find ourselves in the midst of a financial crises, with an economy that is struggling to recover.

        Part of the Neo-Liberal agenda is to constrain wages, to make labour cheap to buy. The belief is that this will help make a buoyant economy but what we have seen is an economy which is struggling due to a lack of demand, people are burdened with debt and low wages.

        Now if you are business person you might believe that it is your interests to have low wages as this will reduce your costs, however we trade unionists believe that low pay results in a deterioration of living standards and the decline of civil society. Other countries mainly Scandanavian, have shown that where you adopt a more social democratic approach to governance, you are more resilient to fluctuations in the business cycle and are able to have a more stable society.

        So the thing that is most galling for us trade unionists, when we see Ed Milliband posing with a copy of The Sun is not only is it a pathetic attempt to be ‘one of the lads’ but it is also confirmation that he has no desire to change direction but is going to continue with the Neo-Liberal plan which has brought us to the brink of disaster.

        And just to reiterate and to make it as plain as it can be, the trade unions had nothing to do with the financial collapse of 2008/09. We are not the ‘enemy within’, those who purport to follow Neo-Liberal doctrine are the people who are destroying this country’s advancement because it is these people who are sacrificing the future of this country to serve their own short term gains.

      • jim says:

        Badger, MH, Ronnie, I am not misguided and not WUM (pathetic) I have every right to give an opinion just like everyone else. The sarcastic remarks dont suit any of you really. I am not in business or anything I am not against the poor and everyone else. What I am saying is if would don’t stay in the centre, and move to the left again, we wont see goverment again to put in place policies to help the poor disabled etc. But I think its terrible that I cant give another view without being attacked for it. I understand what was being said by you all but all I get is stupid comments about how I write. Are you proud of that? I will tell you who I am. I failed in exams at school, I am currently on ESA because of my mental health condition I worked all my life up until I had a break down. This is not a sob story or wanting sympathy from anyone I am a normal person who wants a labour party back in power and I always believe everyone has a right to have a say. Thank you

      • Badger says:

        The Trade Union movement did not just put money into the Labour Party. The Labour party was formed by the unions, socialists and working men in 1900. You have no idea of the connection, have you ? I think the majority of people on this site are paid up members. You are the only one shouting about it. ”I think the Lady doth protest too much”
        As for funding, that should come from the public purse. That would stop the Tories, dead.
        You pull me up on a typo, while you can not construct a sentence, or use a capital letter.
        In 1900 Labour were a protest pressure group. Its a good job people then did not have your defeatist attitude. If you are going to comment about politics, its an idea to read up a little before you look a total buffoon. Believe it or not I will fight for any mans to have the right to his own political beliefs, even fascists. I will not agree with it but you are entitled to your own political thoughts. If you are willing to make them public, and espouse huge errors do not be surprised when people correct you of the facts. The Labour Party was born out of the unions. The unions fought for your wage your holidays and your conditions, and an awful lot more beside. Your hero Blair is a war criminal and his past will catch him up. No matter what deals he does with Cameron to hide the truth.
        You want to support business more, turn your back on the organisations that have dragged the working man out of the crap and the gutter. Where business would like to keep him. As a cheap source of labour. You are a WUM, Jim.
        Google it and remember ”spell-check” is your friend.

  11. Marilyn Sherratt says:

    Echoes my sentiments exactly. I have left messages on Ed’s facebook page and emailed The Labour Party asking who is responsible for this dreadful lack of judgememt. I do not expect a reply. Feel so let down.

  12. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    I can see why Milliband’s advisors thought this would be a great idea for him. The Sun is mailing the football supplement to 22 million homes. It’s aimed at the working class, stridently nationalistic, and with the world cup now on it, posing with the wretched rag would seem like an excellent way of connecting to working class voters, who would otherwise have little time for politics. Unfortunately, for many people, it seems that this is just a return to Blair and his policy of supporting Murdoch and his Right-wing agenda of hammering the poor and marginalised, and promoting massive privatisation in return for his evil media empire’s support. but it doesn’t have to be this way.
    Murdoch’s newspapers are losing money. The Sun by far remains the most popular money-spinner, but the Times is haemorrhaging cash. The only reason the old brute hasn’t sold it, is because it’s Britain’s ‘newspaper of record’, and allows him a place at the table with politicians as a respectable media magnate, rather than the purveyor of yellow journalism, which he really is. All this article’s criticisms about the Sun are absolutely true. It is anti-working class. One of its headlines a few years ago was how poorly paid Britain’s bosses were compared to the rest of Europe. Now, when British employees are being hammered with wage cuts and austerity, while the rich are richer than ever, this seems very much like an insult. As for the racism, the misogyny, the homophobia … all true, and documented at length. I’ve forgotten how many times the Sun appeared before the Press Complaints Commission because of splenetic diatribe against particular ethnic groups. One of the incidents I most remember is a notorious cartoon, published around the time of the Gulf War, I believe, which had a punch-line about pigs complaining about being compared to Arabs. The Commission found them guilty as charged over that one.
    And the Times shares these grotty journalistic values. It was, after all, the Times that published the claim by Soviet defector and self-confessed liar Oleg Gordievsky that Michael Foot was really a KGB agent called ‘Comrade Boot’. It’s another ‘Red Scare’, just like the Red Scare the Sun ran in 1987 when it claimed that Labour had been infiltrated by Communists ready to turn the country into a Soviet satellite.
    As for Murdoch himself, despite all the tub-thumping ultra-patriotism pumped out by the Sun, he ain’t a British citizen and his patriotic posturing is just that – a posture to play on readers’ natural love of their country. A little while ago the Sun was embarrassed when it accidentally sent the copy for the edition for Eire to their Ulster branch. The Ulster edition of the Sun is, as you’d expect, militantly Orange, while its counterpart south of the border is bright Green. The content for both newspapers, however, regardless of their geographical and political alignments, is edited in Wapping. As for the British edition, I have Conservative friends, who hate the paper because of what they perceive as its attacks on the royal family.
    Furthermore, the reason Murdoch’s over in America is because the Americans won’t allow foreigners to own American papers outright. It’s to stop foreign manipulation of the opinion of the American public. This has actually hampered some of Murdoch’s political schemes around the world. Private Eye, for example, noted that the campaign in Australia to replace the Queen as head of state with a president was torpedoed the moment Murdoch weighed in giving his support. As Murdoch had abandoned his native shores for America, the Ozzies weren’t impressed with being told what to do by a foreigner, and so voted ‘No’. Rather than Labour needing Murdoch’s support, it’s the other way round: Murdoch needs Labour’s and the rest of the political class.
    And Milliband could still have picked up some working class credibility without the Sun. He could have simply been photographed talking to the people in his local pub about the Cup. There is, after all, a reason why Farage appears in pubs with a pint and ciggie, despite the fact that he’s a millionaire financier. Or Milliband could have appeared with his local community football team, supporting not just the Beautiful Game, but also his local team. And if they were a youth team, he could take the chance to express his opposition to the Tories selling off sports facilities for development, and so show his determination to help the aspiring sportsmen and women of the future.
    He could have done any of that, and more. It would have been much, much better than posing with the Sun.

  13. Debbie says:

    I think Ed thinks that if he apologises for everything he does we dont like it will all be just dandy.
    Well Ed this was a stupid move. I was in two minds about who I should vote for to run our country and I know now that person is not you!

  14. If the labour party was more like Ben Sellers vision, then they would have my vote, as it is.. The Green Party are closer to what Ben sees, and closer to what I believe and hope.. So Ben look at the Green Party, they are closer to our socialist belief’s than the Labour Party.. Who are still to close to the Thatcherite Agenda of the CONDEM’s..

  15. Ronnie says:

    Contrary to whatever poor misguided Jim thinks, the Labour Party does, in fact, belong, not only to the rank and file, but also the Unions and the Unions, for any who may not fully understand, belong to the rank and file!

    • MH says:

      Ronnie, exactly, trade unions are a pillar of any decent democracy, unlike big business who use their financial resources to undermine the wishes of the electorate!

      Big business benefits from democracy, unfortunately the reverse is not true.

  16. aussieeh says:

    Instead of reading the Sun Ed, why don’t you try reading the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists again,( if you ever did in the first place ). It might remind you of where the Labour Party came from and why. This unelected cabal of career criminals who have persistently Lied to the nation and parliament, with a constant twisting of the statistics, to cover their own crimes against the working poor, the sick and or disabled, the unemployed, are hell bent on taking us back to the world of Robert Tressell. Stand up in the House of the Privileged, stop pussyfooting about and give the Tories everything they deserve. Tell the Truth, why not start with the deaths due to the welfare shambles. There is so much to choose from. Just do it.

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