POLITICS
19/03/2015 17:27 GMT | Updated 19/03/2015 17:59 GMT

Ed Miliband Failing To Get Message Out Because Of Right-Wing Media Bias, Says Alastair Campbell

Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell says Ed Miliband is failing to get his message across because the media have a right-wing bias.

In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, Campbell, who was Tony Blair's director of communications for six years of his premiership, said the broadcasters were swayed by right-wing papers.

He said stories like Miliband's struggles with a bacon sandwich get more coverage while confirmation that Grant Shapps had a second job while he was an MP, despite his previous denials, are underplayed.

Campbell also said it was "too early to tell" whether Miliband would get a place in a subsequent edition of his book 'Winners' that profiles the top achievers in politics, business and sport. While discussing Boris Johnson at a promotion event, he said: "Similarly to how I'm not going to put Ed Miliband in the book now, I wouldn't put Boris Johnson in the book because... it's too early to tell."

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Campbell told HuffPost UK: "If you look at the coverage about Ed Miliband. I mean, the kitchen thing, how much coverage has that had compared to Europe? Or the speech he made at the weekend about the five pledges? It's just absurd. The bacon sandwich... people still talk about that, like it's important.

"This Grant Shapps stuff. It's not the biggest deal in the world but if we had a Labour government, if that was a Labour Party chairman, it'd be leading the news, because it'd be leading the front pages.

He said the BBC and broadcasters are not innately right-wing but are "influenced hugely by the press on daily basis" in deciding which stories they covered.

ed miliband

The media's right-wing bias is the reason you have seen so much of this image, Alastair Campbell said

He added: "The Sun, The Times are Murdoch papers... his empire has a vested interest in undermining the BBC. The Mail hates the BBC, the Telegraph likewise. Part of the campaign against it is to say it's left-wing - but it's not, but they say it, that leaves [the BBC] thinking... I've seen it so many times. Where you go in, say I'm doing stuff on the BBC, they'll say 'obviously, we have to raise this story in the Mail', they never say 'obviously, we have to raise this story in the Daily Mirror'. It's an in-built cultural bias."

Campbell's comments reflect BBC business editor Robert Peston's, who said last year that the corporation was "completely obsessed" with following the news agenda set by right-wing papers.

"There's a slightly 'safety first' thing at the BBC - that if we think the Mail or the Telegraph is gonna lead with it, then we should lead with it," Peston said. "I happen to think that's mad."

Campbell said "big marches for progressive, left-wing causes" struggle to be covered in the UK, while in France and Germany, the media are much more willing to cover it. He added: "We have this image of the French of always being on strike, there may be something in it but it's because those big marches, protests, get a lot of coverage."

Campbell backed the party leader, saying the election was winnable for Labour but adding he did not know what would happen in May.

He also said, that, despite constant sniping reported to be taking place within the party, Miliband has held the party together well.

"I keep reading about these divisions between Ed Miliband and the Blairites. I have to say as a Blairite, I don't know what they're meant to be about," he said.

"Given the history of the Labour party is usually, after elections, we kind of fall apart, I think Ed's actually held it together incredibly well."

alastair campbell

Alastair Campbell on his book tour

Campbell, who says Britain leaving the EU would be a "disaster", even defends Miliband on this, where other pro-Europe figures in Labour have felt his performance has been lacking.

He said: "On Europe, we shouldn't have any truck with the issue of a referendum, I think sometimes, you just have to say leadership is standing up for what you believe.

"Cameron's only giving this referendum because it's a tactic to keep Ukip quiet... to be fair to Ed... he's not going down that route, even though there's some pressure to do so."

He added: "There's not an ounce of Cameron that wants Britain out of Europe, so how has he allowed himself to be pushed into that position?"

Miliband has said a Labour government would have a referendum but only if Brussels sought to change Britain's relationship with the EU - but Campbell thinks Miliband is effectively ruling one out.

"[Miliband's] basically saying, you should only have a referendum if there's a fundamental change in Britain's constitution, and I don't think that's going to happen," he said. "I'm perfectly happy with Labour's position."