By Thomas Barlow @tbarls
The General Election really started in 2014, or at least it did for the media.
The story of the EU elections, the independence referendum, and the what’s happening to the media post election tell us all a lot about #GE15.
Thanks to the over representation of UKIP before the Euros, the mobilisation of Project Fear against the Scots and the misrepresentation of (lying about) economic facts, the media can gladly claim it was them ‘wot won it’ for the Tories – but only just.
And boy how well that has turned out for Murdoch…
Here’s a quick look back over #GE15
JAN 2014 – IT’S ALL COMING UP
Grinding austerity, economic failure, riots, demonstrations, pledges being broken, right-wing insurgency from UKIP – all of these things and more undermined the Coalition position before 2014. The Olympics and fawning display of obsequiousness around the Royal Family could only distract people so much…
Conservatives should focus on countering Labour attacks on spending cuts if they wish to remain in power, thinktank researchers say. THE GUARDIAN
IT ALL STARTED CHANGING WHEN…
UKIP starting to get a disproportionate amount of coverage, in a move that seemed designed to resistance to the coalition away from social movements, the Greens, Respect or The SNP.
Even on things they had no right to be chatting about – like Climate Change and the floods.
A UKIP councillor has blamed the recent storms and heavy floods across Britain on the Government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.
David Silvester said the prime minister had acted “arrogantly against the Gospel”. THE BBC
The elections ended in a massive upsurge of UKIP representation at the local and European levels. Scary.
Not to worry though, that was just going to be a problem for the Conservatives – even though UKIP had actually beaten all parties to win overall...
PROJECT FEAR AND THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM
‘Project Fear’ was the name given to Anti-Independence campaign by ‘Better Together’ staffers in the two years prior to the vote. The method of the campaign was to frighten the Scottish people out of voting for independence, as so brilliantly parodied by Indy Poster Boy here
Despite the three main parties, the entire media and business establishment fighting against independence, the vote was remarkably close.
Even those who voted to stay in the Union felt they had been manipulated and started supporting independent media projects like Common Space, who raised nearly £100k in 4 days.
THE T.V. DEBATES
The major TV broadcasters faced a deluge of criticism and threats of legal action on Monday when they proposed to include Ukip, but not the Green party, in the planned TV leader debates in the general election next year. THE GUARDIAN
No sooner had Project Fear wrapped up (with no sense that in fact the issue was resolved, check the leaders statements here) then the BBC was attacked for it’s apparently biased support of UKIP.
Campaigners are now asking whether the debate line-up was decided based on specific pre-existing criteria or if the BBC has colluded in rigging the election by purposely including UKIP at the Greens’ expense.
Murdoch has a particular dislike of the Greens as they are the only party whose leaders have consistently refused to pose with copies of The Sun.
Given that Murdoch runs Sky and has his former employee, Harding, in an influential role at the BBC, many are saying that the TV debates, and consequently the elections, have been rigged.
As the SNP took in an influx of over 100,000 new members in just a week – making them the third largest party in the UK – they called to be included in the debates as well.
Plaid Cymru, the DUP, and Sinn Fein all pointed to their larger quota of MPs as well – and now media bias was under the microscope again.
A fudged array of debates including all the parties at some point or another was created, but not before people started to comment on how parties gained popularity through their ability to access the media.
MILIBAND’S FIRST FATAL FLAW
As the rise of the SNP and the Green Surge threatened to undermine Labour, Miliband – a leader notable for his lack of style OR substance (as his appalling 2014 Labour conference had underlined) – decided to develop a substantive promise around media reform.
Milliband promised to limit the amount of ownership any one person could have, threatening to break up media monopolies, if only a little bit. Seeing as he was being ridiculed by the media anyway, and the Levenson enquiry had embarrassed Murdoch, he must have thought it was a win/win policy.
Unfortunately he provoked this response.
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
This was why:
Since Miliband means to legislate against the media-market dominance Murdoch enjoys, the future of his company, he said, is at stake.
PROJECT FEAR MARK 2
Every trick that could be pulled out was used to mislead the electorate to avoid a Labour victory.
Negative coverage of the Labour party
Buzz Words against the Left
Misrepresentation of economic facts
“Political-economic approaches do not become legitimate over weeks, but years. US economist Paul Krugman notes that the austerity ideology that everyone believed five years ago as the means to economic recovery has collapsed most everywhere. Everywhere, that is, bar the Conservative Party in the UK and most of the British media. He points out that on the very day the Centre for Macroeconomics announced that the great majority of British economists now disagree with the notion that austerity leads to growth, the Daily Telegraph published a letter from 100 business leaders on its front page, declaring the opposite.”
The truth was that the Conservatives lied about so many things, from halving the deficit to creating growth, from unemployment falling to welfare spending causing the deficit, that we would have to do an entirely separate piece on that alone.
The important thing to note is that the press parroted these lies (and it was well known these were lies) with no questions asked – despite a few honourable exceptions.
“During most of 2015, most surveys put the NHS at the top of the list of people’s concerns, followed by the economy, immigration, education and housing. Surveys also showed that the Conservatives had a clear lead on the economy, while most people trusted Labour on the NHS and housing. For the two main parties, the consequences of this were fairly clear: the Conservatives put the economy at the top of their agenda, while Labour stressed the NHS.
Since the polls showed both issues were top on the list of peoples’ concerns, impartiality required the broadcasters to give roughly equal time to both. Yet the Cardiff study showed that the economy received 4 times as much coverage overall as the NHS.”
SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION
THE RESULT: LABOUR CRUSHED!
Or was it?
Considering the coverage it got Labour actually did not fare badly. The Tories were better able to capitalise on the collapse of the Lib Dems, and keeping hold of a very small number of swing voters.
- SOURCE: THE MIRROR
The Tories in fact only got 23% of the population to vote for them and have a very small minority. Labour didn’t manage to mobilise the working class, and lost many votes to the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cmyru.
It was the working class, not the middle class that sunk Labour
In a minor tidal wave of what looks like pre planned statements, a group of commentators have argued that what lost the election was a failure to tap into the hopes of “aspirational” voters.
However, there is not a shred of evidence for their argument. The explanations for our defeat are deeper than this simplistic assessment. NEW STATESMAN
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE ELECTION?
So good times yeah?
Don’t worry, follow Real Media and our allies. We will be bringing you good news, campaign news and independent news from public interest journalists across the world.
The tide is turning, just steer clear of the guff…
Reports on the media and the election