Letter: Concern about the politics of the 'Daily Mirror'

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Seymour's article 'That's enough pandering to the party' (24 February) will have done nothing to alleviate the fears of those concerned about the future political stance of the Daily Mirror. Mr Seymour's argument for an independent-minded paper, critical where need be of Labour Party policy and unfettered by a proprietorial diktat, is admirable. However, in praising the Mail and the Telegraph for 'distancing themselves from the Conservative Party in recent years', he displays startling naivety or wilful myopia. He neglects to mention that such detached objectivity has only been a prominent feature when a general election is safely out of the way. Criticism of government policy all but vanished from these newspapers during the 1992 campaign, when they were as vociferous in promoting the Conservative cause as the Sun, Star, Express, Today, and the Times. Labour will doubtless have to run a similar gauntlet next time.

The British press has the narrowest political range in editorial policy of any country in Western Europe. What is missing from Mr Seymour's article is any acknowledgement that the Mirror is the only national newspaper to have supported Labour. Its partisanship has been partly in proportion to its uniqueness and isolation. It would be an affordable luxury for the Conservatives to lose the unstinting support of one newspaper, because they possess a near- monopoly of the others. For Labour it would be catastrophic.

The situation might be more reassuring if Mr Seymour could persuade some of his professional colleagues to take a similarly admirable, independent and maverick line, and to stop behaving like apparatchiks of Central Office. As it is, I fear that the Mirror is going to be bled of its political 'clout' under auspices of journalistic integrity. This must bode ill not just for the Labour Party, but for the democratic expression of dissenting politics generally.

Yours faithfully,

K. M. C. O'SULLIVAN

Worthing, West Sussex

24 February

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