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7May/1513

The Tory Press

Someone complained recently when I took a pop at the Tory party and its breathless cheerleaders in the right-wing media. That much of the UK print media is biased is not news, nor is it news that it usually tells its readers which way they should vote. But the black propaganda employed by the Tory press in this election has been extraordinary, not only that but the interests of the billionnaire - often foreign - owners of the newspapers has been nakedly evident. Essentially, these newspapers are trying to force their readers to vote in the explicit interests of their owners, which is to say they are being instructed to vote Conservative.

It is a particularly insidious, vicious undemocratic form of advertising imaginable - and this blog is frequently about the sinister aspects of the advertising industry. So to those who want to have a whinge that a blog that occasionally makes them laugh is detouring into politics, I say this: you haven't been paying attention.

As the Tory press has seen its power wane - due to disruption from the internet and other sources of information - it has grown increasingly shrill in its demands that its readers do their bidding. The prospect of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister seems to drive newspaper proprietors to the edges of sheer terror - not, as they'd have you think, because they think he'll ruin the country but because they think he'll ruin it for them. Which is to say that people who could literally roll around in aircraft hangars of cash might be asked to pay more money, and they government might consider whether it's actually a good idea that our press is run to protect the vested interests of a load of evil wizards from Westeros. Ask yourself why these people want you to vote Conservative; ask yourself why they hate Ed Miliband; ask yourself why they are attempting to derail the choice of millions of British people.

Like a caged animal, they have grown more vicious and the rise of Russell Brand here is instructive. Whatever you make of him, the shamanistic shagger has an uncanny ability to command the interest of young people, when virtually no-one else can. Brand's Youtube Channel, The Trews, has over a million subscribers and is growing. The Sun has a readership of under a million - and it's falling.

The notion that these people may be on the brink of losing the influence they have wielded to suit their own purposes for decades is inconceivable to them, so the whole kitchen sink has been thrown at Ed Miliband. A tiny cabal of rich old white men is trying to influence the outcome of our democratic general election.

Not only that, they're prepared to challenge our constitution should they not get their own way and have been pushing the narrative that a Miliband government, run with the assistance of the SNP, would be illegitimate. It would not - and challenging such as government would be to challenge hundreds of years of Parliamentary democracy. It would be a coup.

They have stoked nationalism in an attempt to prevent people from voting Labour. Fear the Scots, they tell the English; hate the English, they tell the Scots. It's a scorched Earth policy that will almost certainly pave the way for a second Scottish referendum that will almost certainly be an Aye vote. No matter that the Tory party is actually called The Conservative and Unionist Party, the Tory press and the Tory party will willingly break the United Kingdom if they have a shot at stopping a Labour government. It's the ultimate political act of cutting your nose off to spite your face.

They've told a deliberate lie, along with the Tory party, that says Labour ruined the economy. They've told us that we need austerity, when we demonstrably don't. Miliband stabbed his brother in the back; he looks funny eating a bacon sandwich, he'd get rid of nuclear weapons and he had some girlfriends.

I'm not blind to the faults of the Labour Party or Ed Miliband, but I've looked on in horror at the increasingly crazed attempts to influence a democratic process; the sort of rampant partisanship that caused US media advisors to state they even they have never seen anything like it; for right-wing commentators and politicians to question whether things have got out of hand.

The Tory press is famous for complaining about the BBC being a 'state broadcaster' - the irony is apparently lost on them in an election where they have explicitly acted as the mouthpiece of the Conservative Party, from repeatedly pushing the lines dreamed up by Tory strategist Lynton Crosby, to publishing letter drafted for them by Conservative Party headquarters (above) to even emailing readers directly to plead with them.

In this situation I've felt the need to be part of an alternative narrative - on that confronts these hideous vested interests and the lies they will go to any lengths to tell. They are trying to fool voters to return a government that is probably not in the interests of the majority of people; to return a government that has ruled - and will continue to rule - in the interests of a minority.

Screenshot 2015-05-07 15.08.37

It's outrageous political sleight-of-hand, audacious politicking. It's also deeply sinister - and it increasingly alarms me. Trying to get people to buy unflushable bog roll, or featuring an unworldy arse in an advert is one thing - trying to influence how a nation is governed is in a different realm altogether. Yet the methods are the same.

The political spinners are the greatest magicians in the world - and some of the most dangerous. They act at the behest of people who are enemies of fairness; people who see the cost of everything and value of nothing; people who will act to protect their business interests at the expense of institutions that the rest of the world envies: the NHS, the BBC, libraries, museums, forests, coastlines, judiciary, parliamentary democracy. To them, these things are collateral - either a resource to be exploited, bought, shut down or eradicated. They see Ed Miliband threatening to stand in the way, so he must be destroyed.

The press - The Sun, the Mail, The Times, The Telegraph - are the means by which they convince us that these things must fall, that we must bow to their will. Do not see them as newspapers, see them for what they are. The most dangerous adverts for the most dangerous people inside - and outside - our country.

EDIT: Don't simply take my word for it - have a look at this independent academic report on the media's coverage of the 2015 General Election

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  • Whether you liked them or not, Labour certainly did have lots of policies. Eye-catching ones that were extremely popular, even with self-identifying Tories.

    And the suggestion that there was a denial over the economy is one of the more pervasive fantasies of the Tory press and Tory party – look at any graph on borrowing and the deficit under Labour and compare it to the previous Tory administration. Look at Labour’s average deficit compared to the coalition deficit – it is a stone-cold fact that it was higher under the coalition. Once again, the way this debate has been framed is by the Tory party in concert with the Tory papers pushing the idea that Labour were maniacal borrowers. They were not. Borrowing rose in the last two years as a way to fend off the financial crisis and should have continued under the Tories. It did not and the recovery stalled. Only when the Tories started borrowing again did the recovery, well, recover.

    As for the Leeds audience, two of the most hostile questions were from Tory party activists. Another fact. The idea that they ‘saw through’ him is only part of the story – they saw the Ed Miliband the Tories had wanted to paint him as all along and they skilfully used the media to make that happen.

    Calling voters stupid is never helpful, but a heck of a lot of people ended up voting for a party that probably won’t govern in their interest – even though their primary reason for casting that vote is motivated self-interest. It’s worth asking why that might be.

  • Nero

    The Tory Press certainly do have that much influence, as they happily acknowledge themselves: remember “It’s the Sun wot won it!” headline? They constantly gloat about their influence.

    The tragedy is that it works time after time after time. Blair was only allowed in as he was a different mask on the same face.

  • Nero

    The Tory Press certainly do have that much influence, as they happily acknowledge themselves: remember “It’s the Sun wot won it!” headline? They constantly gloat about their influence.

    The tragedy is that it works time after time after time. Blair was only allowed in as he was a different mask on the same face.

  • D Nelson

    This is all good and well , but did the “Tory Press” really have that much influence? the Polls were driving the news reports. all the talk of coalitions and deals with the SNP was based on duff information . If the News media had had accurate figures and reported that Labour were going to get wiped out in Scotland ,well they suspected that , and reported they were going to loose heavily in the UK would that have driven more people to ether not bother voting (no point) or vote for an alternative party . you put to much stock on newsprint ,as you say the print media is in decline . People did not vote for Labour in the end because they did not trust them and the leader was a duffer .

    • This is both self-contradictory and a validation of most of what I write above.

      • D Nelson

        So i guess its ok for the left leaning papers to urge there readers to vote Labour ?
        most voters are pretty much set in there ways , and would expect political bias in Newspapers one way or another i would be interested in your opinion on the BBC coverage during the election was it balanced ?

        • The Mirror and The Guardian advised their readers to vote Labour. In 2010 only The Mirror did. The Sun, The Mail, The Times, The Telegraph, The Evening Standard all backed the Tories; The Express backed UKip but had a clear swipe at Labour; The Financial Times and Independent – I reiterate, a newspaper calling itself The Independent – said there should be a continuation of the Tory / LibDem coalition.

          The cards were stacked massively against Labour and it’s important to note that this isn’t simply an election endorsement. I have watched elections for 25 years in the UK and studied them in education for many years – and there has never been anything like the hostility towards a political party there was at this election.

          I have a horrible feeling you’re asking that BBC question because you’re of the opinion that the BBC is a loony leftist hotbed, full of bias. This is an absurd fantasy – if anything BBC news coverage benefits the Tories as whoever decides on BBC news agendas seems more inclined to follow what the Tory press decides is the agenda these days. These news lines inevitably benefit the Tories.

          My hope is that new media will continue to challenge traditional media but for now there’s no doubt about their influence.

          I also repeat my question – why do you think those rich, foreign men want to influence the way you vote?

          • D Nelson

            The Labour party is ripping its self apart , does it really have a place anymore ?
            England or vast swaths of it are Tory , Scotland may as well be a different Country it is so diametricly different politically than England .
            Maybe Newspaper Barron’s do try and influence voters whats left of the MSM readership , but voters are not stupid in the main , clearly Labour are in a mess the voters could see that , the ex leader was not good enough , not pretty enough , they had no policies and were in denial about there managing of the economy , i think one defining moment of there campaign was the Leeds audience , they were very well balanced the audience saw through Ed and so i guess did the uk electorate .

          • Whether you liked them or not, Labour certainly did have lots of policies. Eye-catching ones that were extremely popular, even with self-identifying Tories.

            And the suggestion that there was a denial over the economy is one of the more pervasive fantasies of the Tory press and Tory party – look at any graph on borrowing and the deficit under Labour and compare it to the previous Tory administration. Look at Labour’s average deficit compared to the coalition deficit – it is a stone-cold fact that it was higher under the coalition. Once again, the way this debate has been framed is by the Tory party in concert with the Tory papers pushing the idea that Labour were maniacal borrowers. They were not. Borrowing rose in the last two years as a way to fend off the financial crisis and should have continued under the Tories. It did not and the recovery stalled. Only when the Tories started borrowing again did the recovery, well, recover.

            As for the Leeds audience, two of the most hostile questions were from Tory party activists. Another fact. The idea that they ‘saw through’ him is only part of the story – they saw the Ed Miliband the Tories had wanted to paint him as all along and they skilfully used the media to make that happen.

            Calling voters stupid is never helpful, but a heck of a lot of people ended up voting for a party that probably won’t govern in their interest – even though their primary reason for casting that vote is motivated self-interest. It’s worth asking why that might be.

  • D Nelson

    This is all good and well , but did the “Tory Press” really have that much influence? the Polls were driving the news reports. all the talk of coalitions and deals with the SNP was based on duff information . If the News media had had accurate figures and reported that Labour were going to get wiped out in Scotland ,well they suspected that , and reported they were going to loose heavily in the UK would that have driven more people to ether not bother voting (no point) or vote for an alternative party . you put to much stock on newsprint ,as you say the print media is in decline . People did not vote for Labour in the end because they did not trust them and the leader was a duffer .

    • This is both self-contradictory and a validation of most of what I write above.

      • D Nelson

        So i guess its ok for the left leaning papers to urge there readers to vote Labour ?
        most voters are pretty much set in there ways , and would expect political bias in Newspapers one way or another i would be interested in your opinion on the BBC coverage during the election was it balanced ?

        • The Mirror and The Guardian advised their readers to vote Tory. In 2010 only The Mirror did. The Sun, The Mail, The Times, The Telegraph, The Evening Standard all backed the Tories; The Express backed UKip but had a clear swipe at Labour; The Financial Times and Independent – I reiterate, a newspaper calling itself The Independent – said there should be a continuation of the Tory / LibDem coalition.

          The cards were stacked massively against Labour and it’s important to note that this isn’t simply an election endorsement. I have watched elections for 25 years in the UK and studied them in education for many years – and there has never been anything like the hostility towards a political party there was at this election.

          I have a horrible feeling you’re asking that BBC question because you’re of the opinion that the BBC is a loony leftist hotbed, full of bias. This is an absurd fantasy – if anything BBC news coverage benefits the Tories as whoever decides on BBC news agendas seems more inclined to follow what the Tory press decides is the agenda these days. These news lines inevitably benefit the Tories.

          My hope is that new media will continue to challenge traditional media but for now there’s no doubt about their influence.

          I also repeat my question – why do you think those rich, foreign men want to influence the way you vote?

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