Telegraph reads Harriet Harman’s mind in claim she ‘knifed’ Andy Burnham

Magical powers employed to confect a Labour row that never happened


The Telegraph newspaper has discovered the power of telepathy.

On page 4 today, a curious little story appears: ‘Harman moves to put the knife into Burnham’s leadership bid’.

Harman knifed Burnham Telegraph

Sounds like big news. Tell me more.

“Harriet Harman yesterday appeared to call on Labour supporters not to back Andy Burnham as the next leader of the party.

Miss Harman, who took over as interim leader in the wake of Ed Miliband’s resignation, urged people not to vote for the candidate ‘who makes you feel comfortable’.

Mr Burnham, the favourite to be elected leader, has repeatedly been criticised as the ‘comfort candidate’ and ‘simply another Ed Miliband’.”

‘Repeatedly been criticised’ by whom? No source is given.

And that ‘appeared’ in the first line is delicious!

Harman’s full quote, given later in the story, was vague and boring enough to be acquitted of the charge of referring to any particular candidate.

Yet somehow, the Telegraph knows she had someone in mind, and who that was, and published a story saying so, based on ‘repeated criticism’ by… well, we don’t know who.

Is this news?

After Harman’s quote, the story goes on to say: ‘Mr Burnham responded that he opposed the Tories’ cuts to tax child tax credits despite Miss Harman’s claims Labour would support them.’

Burnham was responding to Harman’s position on child tax credits, not to her remarks about ‘comfortable’ candidates.

The story makes it seem as though he opposed the cuts in response to Harman’s non-criticism of himself! This is very misleading.

Yes, he ‘responded’ to something she said in a BBC interview – just not the thing the Telegraph chose to highlight.

So first the paper claims to know the mind of Harman, then it uses this to confect a row where none exists, mixing it up with a genuine row about tax credits. 

If that wasn’t enough, the story ends with this:

A source close to Miss Harman said: “Harriet is not endorsing any candidate. Her comments were not about Andy.”

So for anyone who reads to the end, they’ll find the story is pure speculation, contested by the person whose mind the paper ‘appears’ to have read.

The Telegraph has run bizarre attacks on Andy Burnham before.

But how can the Telegraph justify publishing speculation as news?

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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12 Responses to “Telegraph reads Harriet Harman’s mind in claim she ‘knifed’ Andy Burnham”

  1. Patrick Nelson

    The Tory press is frightened of Andy Burnham which is a pretty clear sign of their belief in his ability to win in 2020 should he become leader.

  2. Torybushhug

    Do any of you recognise something that struck me the other day……

    It suddenly occurred to me as someone that came from nothing that I’ve never once paused to think about what the state owes me on the run up to making life decisions such as starting a family. All the time you hear these hideously greedy entitlement whingers banging on about what the state owes them, how they are somehow entitled at birth to be showered with state aid as each new life event comes along.

    It never occurs to me to even begin such a thought. I just plan my life according to WHAT I can afford. The notion my decisions must trigger a response form the state to give me money is hugely selfish and self indulgent and turns millions into drones rendered incapable of planning ahead and living responsibly.

    The background to this is I grew up in a poor home, and did quite well in my late 20’s / early 30’s but income was halved from 2007 due to the downturn. Really hard times we’ve had but not once to we form a thought along the lines of someone is to blame / we are owed by the state. My teacher mate bemoans a 1% pay rise, I would give anything to have had a pay rise instead of a 50% pay cut. Spoilt brattism is alive and kicking.

    The toxic entitlement narrative dumbs people down and dims their sense of self improvement.

  3. stevep

    “Hideously greedy entitlement whingers”. That just about sums up who the Tory government supports: Large Corporations, Agriculture, rich tax dodgers, firms not paying a living wage and let`s not forget the Banks.
    No wonder Ian Duncan Smith punched the air in triumph at the prospect of the nasty less-well-off being forced to subsidise the poor aforementioned unfortunate elite.

  4. Cole

    Since we were all screwed by the irresponsibility of the bankers (which was the reason we’ve had the recession), we should certainly expect the state to deal with them, so it never happens again. Instead, it’s largely the ‘little people’ who have been punished: collapsed businesses, lower wages, cutbacks in government spending.

  5. Matthew Blott

    Did you ever consider you might have been lucky? Not all benefit claimers are work sky scroungers you know and some of them really are very poor.

  6. Matthew Blott

    That simply is not true.

  7. Patrick Nelson

    Maybe not in Blottland.

  8. Ian

    Nobody is more entitled than the private sector, persistently draining government coffers via subsidies, tax breaks, deliberate tax loopholes and other corporate welfare measures.

    That all costs many, many times more than any benefits cheating.

  9. Ian

    They ought to be more scared of Jeremy Corbyn at the minute. He’s the only one has te policies the majority agree with, like renationalising, NHS etc. The others are just right wing quislings based on hat I’ve heard so far.

  10. Patrick Nelson

    I think the reason that they are scared of Andy Burnham isn’t so much that he is very left wing, but rather it is that he is moderately left wing and also a quite realistic election winner – the same story as with Ed Miliband, who – despite their official derision – used to give them the heebie jeebies.

    I think that if they thought Jeremy Corbyn was liable to win anything they would be directing their pens at him more already. It doesn’t mean that they are correct in their assessment though, but personally I think it would require a bit of a popular paradigm shift in the Labour party and the country as a whole for Jeremy Corbyn to end up in Downing street – but it’s not impossible so long as the Tories make a huge mess of things in the near future.

  11. DonaldSNelson

    ^^^^^Reset your job with leftfootforward… < ***** Find Here

  12. Harold

    Quote; “All the time you hear these hideously greedy entitlement whingers banging on about what the state owes them,” Might I suggest you either keep odd friends or need to get out more, because I have a fairly wide circle of friends who all have different beliefs, faiths and opinions on a wide range of subjects, yet I cannot recall them expressing views anywhere near the one quoted above, let alone all the time. I might venture if you rely on the media in the Uk to inform you, then I can understand where you get such a negative view, which I do find out because most of the successful people I have met, regardless of their political view have been liberal and open in their thinking, one factor I thought in their success.

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