COMMENT: Momentum banning the Sun is an act of solidarity not censorship
Losing their rag.
In a now deleted tweet, the Sun’s political correspondent Matt Dathan this week complained of being banned by Momentum from their The World Transformed conference next week.
'Sorry to see the @PeoplesMomentum has banned the Sun from attending its World Transformed conference next week,' he told followers. 'Didn’t realise they were supporters of press censorship…'
The Guardian’s political editor Heather Stewart called the move 'outrageous'. She argued, 'Banning journalists because you don’t like their paper’s editorial line smacks more of Donald Trump than the lovely open, democratic social movement Momentum aspires to be.'
But to accuse Momentum of press censorship is to be wilfully obtuse in this instance. The ban on the Sun journalist attending the event has nothing to do with press censorship and everything to do with where it is being held: Liverpool.
The Sun has no place in Liverpool. The people of Liverpool have been unequivocal about this for almost three decades now.
Since its now-infamous coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, The Sun newspaper has not been bought or sold in the city of Liverpool, and Momentum’s decision to ban its journalists is to show solidarity with the families of the Hillsborough victims, and the city’s boycott of the tabloid.
Indeed, organisers of The World Transformed said in a statement that they 'stand with the people of Liverpool and the families of the 96 whose memory was smeared by the Sun.'
Our statement on The Sun 👇 pic.twitter.com/LCNf1BWXkP
— The World Transformed (@TWT_NOW) September 19, 2018
But beyond that, the move is another sign of the waning influence Rupert Murdoch holds over British politics.
Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party is no longer beholden to such publications. Whilst previous leaders such as Tony Blair were more than happy to pose reading a copy of the Sun, and indeed develop a working relationship with Murdoch in a bid for positive coverage, Labour under Corbyn understands that it does not need him.
Even after the Sun withdrew its support of Labour after 2010 did some in the party feel it necessary to curry the tabloid’s favour. In 2014, Ed Miliband was forced to apologise for posing with a copy of the Sun.
The Sun’s political influence is in terminal decline. At the last General Election, the majority of their readers didn’t vote, whilst only 28% of them actually followed the Sun’s advice and voted for the Conservatives.
— Laurence Janta-Lipinski (@jantalipinski) June 13, 2017
The Sun, shorn of its bite, is left shouting into the wind. The people of Liverpool don’t want it in their city, at The World Transformed event or otherwise. Labour doesn’t need it to win friends and influence people.
Don’t buy the Sun.