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.
Let's try an alternative cover for tomorrow's issue of The Sun. pic.twitter.com/Lr7pJba17W
— Ａｒｃｈｉｔｅｃｔｓ (@Architectsuk) June 6, 2017
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.
Full letter from business owners on Telegraph website contains metadata showing it was authored by CCHQ. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/sOMV86Aqo1
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) April 26, 2015
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.
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