Hazel Blears: 'Political commentators are too powerful'

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has blamed political commentators for creating a mood of "anti-politics" in the UK.

Speaking to journalism students at the University of Salford last week, Blears said newspaper critics were a deterrent for young people considering a career in politics.

"I am sick and tired of people in this country attacking the very fabric of our democracy," she said.

"[Policital commentators] occupy a uniquely privileged position in our country and I think they wield too much power."

She added: "Journalism is essential to a free society. There's a difference between journalism and commentators. Commentators are almost the antithesis of accountability."

Blears defended Gordon Brown's decision not to apologise for the recent banking crisis.

"You can't win as a politician," she said.

"If you say you are sorry somehow you are responsible for every single thing. If you don't say you are sorry you are arrogant and out of touch.

"You are damned if you do and damned if you don't."

She also blamed the media for discouraging young female politicians.

"A lot of women don't come forward to be councillors because of the pressures of newspapers on them, exposing their private lives," Blears said.

"Maybe the media needs to think about the way it deals with people."

Blears praised the women's section in the Daily Mail and criticised the Daily Express for its focus on immigration.

She said that although she receives all the national dailies each morning, she has little time for The Guardian anymore.

Guardian political columnist George Monbiot recently published an open letter questioning Blears' political courage and accusing her of "slavish obedience".

The Salford MP has now invited Monbiot to a meeting with her in her home constituency. She said he has accepted, and a public meeting will take place on a date to be decided.

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