Stephen Kelly talks about working on a World in Action programme about the Labour Party

This extract is part of a longer interview conducted with Stephen Kelly.

I remember once working on World In Action and I got a telephone call at 12.30 at night and I am in bed. It was Friday night and I had an entire weekend organized. I get a phone call, “Be in London for 11.00am in the morning, we’ve got an emergency programme.” That was it.

What was the programme? 

The programme was to do with the Labour Party election, the election for a new leader of the Labour Party. So, that was another bad programme.

Did this have anything to do with you?

No, it had nothing whatsoever to do with me. I’ll tell you what happened. We are doing this programme about – was it Michael Foot – I can’t remember which election it was about, and it was a very close call. Nobody quite knew who was going to win; it was such a close call. And they said what we want you do to do is ring – at this time in the election for Labour leader the trade unions got so many votes, every constituency party had a vote and every MP had a vote. It was a third, third, third. So, they said, “ Right I want you to ring every MP and ask them how they’re going to vote, every constituency party and ask them and every trade union.” And I said, “That’s barmy because it’s too close to call anyhow and who are you going to talk to? Half the MPs are going to lie to you. If you ring the constituency Labour parties who are you going to ring, some will not have made a decision yet, who are you going to talk to, the constituency secretary, the chairman. If you ring the trade union, some of the trade unions haven’t made a decision yet. It only needs one or two of those to be out and your vote is no good.” So, they said “Do it!” So I spent an entire weekend sitting in an hotel in London phoning everybody. And, it was predictable. That’s exactly what happened. A lot of people said they didn’t know or whatever and of course at the end of the day we said “Blah blah blah… and we can reveal in an exclusive World In Action poll that it’s too close to call.” I could have told you that. It was such a waste of time; it was bad journalism.


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