Five examples of biased press coverage of the Labour party conference

Will the same papers do this for Tory conference too?


As the country’s right-wing press sharpens its cutlery ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Labour conference, it’s worth noticing how coverage of the event already displays bias along political lines – and to keep this handy when the Conservative party conference is covered next week.

Consider this your cut-out-and-keep guide to newspaper bias this conference season. 

Here are five general trends to watch out for:

1. Prominence – while the Left-leaning Mirror and Guardian have treated the Labour conference as a national story worthy of their front page, most of the conservative press has kept the conference off page 1 (Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express), or relegated it to second or third story (Telegraph).

This is on the morning after Labour’s shadow chancellor gave a speech laying out the party’s economic policies.

One exception is the Sun, which melds its stablemate paper the Times’s splash about Mars with the conference to attack and ridicule the new Labour administration.

Sun 29 9 15

This is not the first time this has happened. Earlier this year the Times kept the Labour party’s general election manifesto off the front page, where the Tory manifesto was featured positively.

Will the same newspapers keep the Tory conference off of page 1 next week?

2. Hostile editorials – while the Sun’s front page story is more an opinion column than news coverage, the dedicated editorial pages of the other newspapers are already pummeling the Labour conference.

The Mail’s columns are perhaps the most robust, though supposedly more serious papers like the Telegraph are not far behind.

As ever, this partisan coverage is written with the general public’s best interest at heart…

Will the same newspapers be as critical of the Tory conference, or will they write as critical supporters of the party?

3. Irreverence and mockery – As the Sun recently proved, mockery of politicians (an important practice) is not something the press applies without prejudice. Political sketches of the Labour conference and newspaper cartoons will similarly ridicule Labour with more gusto – today’s Sun front page being a good example.

Can we expect the same treatment for the Tory conference?

bacon cam sun

4. Ideas described as out of date – Economic, social and defence policies floated by Labour are called old-fashioned and a ‘return to the 1980s/70s’, despite their being the roughly the same vintage as those of the Tories.

Will the policies of the Conservative party be characterised as a return to the past?

5. Splits and disagreements amplified – There is certainly a big gulf between different tendencies within the Labour party over its direction with Corbyn at the helm.

But as the Tory top brass jostle for position (who was the MP and Oxford contemporary who gave Lord Ashcroft the pig story…?) ahead of their own leadership election before 2020, and as splits over the European Union bubble on, threatening to cripple David Cameron’s EU referendum campaign, their conference will surely yield plenty of comparable material.

Will the papers explore (and revel in) these warring factions within the Tory party?

Now it’s over to the papers. Let’s see how their coverage of the Tory conference resolves these questions.


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

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