Ian Warren, the Nuneaton Charlatan, or How to Fabricate Front Page News

By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.

This is the story of some squalid little men (and women), but it is a vital insight into the nexus of the political and corporate media elite. The Guardian, New Statesman and Huffington Post today all run major stories around a “focus group” study in Nuneaton which revealed that voters think Corbyn is “scruffy” and “old-fashioned”. This is deemed front page news.

The publicity was obviously supposed to coincide with Labour losing Nuneaton council, its most marginal council surrounded by Tory territory, in the council elections on Thursday. However Labour held Nuneaton. That did not stop the New Statesman article, by “research” authors James Morris and Ian Warren, from going ahead with the immortal phrase “While today’s Labour party has no hope of representing Nuneaton”. Err, it is still in control of the Council.

The publication is also timed to coincide with a revolt by Labour MPs at this afternoon’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The idea is that the “research” would prove that election losses were Corbyn’s fault. That is toned down now after they beat the Tories outside Scotland, but I am told that Progress MPs are still briefed to flourish the Guardian and raise this “research” today. That is meant to get this “research” onto the evening news.

But when you look at the research very closely, you realise that it is absolute rubbish. James Morris and Ian Warren are total charlatans.

Firstly, the whole sample is 16 people. That is right, 16 people. They are supposed all to be ex-Labour, though there is little evidence of that in the transcripts. What is not in dispute is that they are all Tory voters.

So you have 16 Tory voters, in two groups male and female. But out of 16 people there is not one retired person. Not one young voter. Not one person unemployed. And every single one is in a nuclear heterosexual relationship with children. Every single one is a homeowner.

Furthermore their sources of information are (by order most mentioned) the Daily Mail, Sky, the BBC and the Sun. Only one out of 16 mentions the internet as a source of political information.

People who voted Tory constitute already just 24% of the general population. Exclude retired, tenants, single, childless, gay, young and internet savvy people as well, and you get down to a deliberately chosen 5% of the population from which to choose your sample. You then get these 16 carefully chosen, blinkered right wing bigots into a room. Nevertheless something still goes wrong for your research. Two of the 16 (in the female group) state a firm intention to vote Labour next time (while a larger number state they would consider it).

So what do you do if you are a charlatan like James Morris or Ian Warren? You leave that in the transcript, which no journalist will ever read, but you exclude the fact that 2 of the 16 will vote Labour next time from your findings! And you studiously lead the conversation with the group round to the idea that others who are considering voting Labour next time might be more likely to do so with a change of leader.

The idea that locking two carefully selected groups of totally unrepresentative right wingers into a room to self-reinforce their bigoted opinions, in any way constitutes real research, is utterly laughable. The only conclusion is that having carefully selected the people in all of the UK the most likely to dislike Jeremy Corbyn, they dislike Jeremy Corbyn. Next week, a group of young unemployed people from the Easter Road will give their views on David Cameron.

Needless to say the so called journalists who have published this nonsense did no investigation whatsoever of the farcical nature of the “research”. They just published the press release, as witnessed by the fact they all use exactly the same quotes from scores of pages of transcript.

An important question is who paid for this. Obviously it is a Blairite production, but where did the money come from? Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research are credited, and they are extremely expensive. I asked Ian Warren who funded it. First he replied “I did”, then when I asked him who funded Greenberg Quinlan Rosner he stated there was “something sinister” about the question. I asked again twice, but answer came there none. Astonishingly, “who paid for this” did not occur to the mainstream journalists who uncritically published Morris and Warren’s nonsense.

This is a deeply sinister story. Right wing Labour figures hope desperately their own party will lose in Nuneaton. So they commission (and presumably pay for) ludicrously skewed research to show Jeremy Corbyn caused the loss. This absolute non-news item, that a tiny selected group of completely unrepresentative right wingers do not like Jeremy Corbyn, is then plastered on front pages by their Blairite media contacts to coincide with a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting today, in order to further the slow motion coup against Corbyn.

It is actually quite sickening. All of those involved – including the Guardian and New Statesman editors – are very low people indeed.

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  • Nick Smegg

    Another great article from the former British ambassador. American readers may not appreciate the context, but last Thursday in the UK there was a series of elections for local and regional bodies, and the Establishment and the BBC in particular have been trying to spin white as black. Despite the opposition Labour party doing well in elections the governing Tory party are trying to spin the notion that the reverse is true.