We were addicted to Murdoch like crack cocaine, admits Jowell

 

Labour lost the confidence of voters after 13 years in power because it was addicted to the "crack cocaine" of courting media barons such as Rupert Murdoch rather than listening to the public's concerns, a senior member of Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet says today.

In a frank assessment of the mountain the Opposition has to climb if it is to win the next election, Tessa Jowell warns that "nobody is listening" to Labour because of a breakdown in trust with the public on the economy, its relations with the media, and a failure to talk about welfare and immigration. Voters can only hear "white noise", she says, and Labour must promise to open the "gilded cages" of the Westminster, media and City establishments.

As Labour's conference opens in Liverpool today, the shadow Olympics minister is joined by the party's policy chief, Liam Byrne, and former home secretary Alan Johnson in calling for Mr Miliband to apologise for Labour's mistakes on the economy.

All three senior figures, from the Blairite wing of the party, use interviews with The Independent on Sunday to urge Mr Miliband to "cleave to the centre ground" to win back the voters who handed Labour three election victories and be honest about mistakes made on the deficit.

But while the Labour leader is expected to admit there is a "long way to go" to repair the party's credibility on the economy, aides said the time had passed for him to say sorry for the previous government's economic legacy.

However, in a sign that the Labour leader is responding to concerns that the party has lost touch, Mr Miliband last night secured a deal to give 50,000 "registered supporters" a say in choosing the Labour leader. He said: "I want to change the party to make us more outward looking and talk to the public."

Ms Jowell will today build on her message in a speech to a rally of Progress, representing New Labour modernisers, by saying that Labour can rebuild confidence with voters by reaching out to communities "street by street".

In an interview with The IoS, she says: "What we've got to accept is that in the country more widely, nobody is listening. The biggest battle that Labour has at the moment is to be relevant and to be heard... For so many people, it's just white noise.

"If we are to become a more meritocratic country where there really is a sense that opportunity is there, if you have the initiative and the will to seize it, then we've got to open up these gilded cages."

Asked whether she believes the Labour government should have been more robust with News International over phone-hacking allegations, Ms Jowell, who was a victim of hacking and will be a core participant in the Leveson inquiry, says: "I think that the mistake that we made – it's a bit like the crack cocaine of politics, isn't it? Getting a good write-up, or the horror of a bad write-up. At its worst, Westminster politics is like a private conversation between Westminster media and Westminster politicians, and the rest of the world are eavesdroppers on a private conversation, and that's got to change."

In a sign that the party is desperate to make a clean break with News International, Labour activists will vote on a joint motion from the Unite union and MP Tom Watson calling for James Murdoch to quit as chairman of the group.

Under the party rule change, "registered supporters" will be given their own electoral college with 10 per cent weighting. The other three colleges – unions, MPs and MEPs, and party members – will have 30 per cent each. Multiple votes will also be banned, and talks will begin on allowing registered supporters to decide party policy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there