Skip to content

How the Observer used dubious research and shoddy reporting to promote a Blairite Labour leader

It’s Sunday, and the Observer has published a slew of articles prediciting the death of the Labour party should we not learn the correct lessons of the 2015 election defeat. Those lessons are:

I’m more than happy for the Observer to have an opinion on the future of the Labour party. I don’t agree with the general vote Liz or have a Tory government until 2030 argument, but I do agree that voting for Corbyn would be a disaster.

However, the paper seems to have willingly taken part in a campaign to promote a Blairite leader, blurring the line between reporting and editorial.

Facts are sacred and all that.

The lead story this morning was entitled Labour’s lost voters may never return again, study finds, a hair raising report into focus group interviews conducted in 5 marginal seats won by the Tories.

Aside from the less than convincing methodology and number crunching, Toby Helm’s report failed to disclose information about the company that conducted the research that would probably have cast the surveys in a different light.

A simple Google search reveals that:

  • BBM, the company that conducted the focus group interviews, is a political and corporate campaigning company, not a research company
  • BBM’s directors include Alan Barnard. Barnard was Tony Blair’s campaign and elections director.

So we have a pro-Blairite newspaper quoting a PR company headed by Tony Blair’s campaign director that produces research that backs the Blairite candidate for the Labour leadership.

You smell a rat too?

I tweeted Toby Helm to ask him why he’d failed to mention BBM’s political background, and who’d commissioned the research in the first place.

He hasn’t replied, so I’ll outline what seems obvious:

Some group to the right of the Labour party hired BBM to campaign for a Blairite Labour leader. The Observer is taking part in this campaign by publishing editorial and misleading reports into research that has an obvious bias towards the Labour party’s right wing.

Shoddy journalism, all in all.