Murdoch decides it all (again!)
Once again, the kingmaker of Britain (an Aussie) has decided who shall be leading the country after the next election, and unlike the last 12 years, he’s going for the Tories. Corporate Britain has few more capable subverting democracy than Rupert Murdoch, but today his friends must be pretty happy with him.
The Sun has only once failed to back the winning party in a general election, or to put it another way, only once has the Sun not managed to convince the public to follow its leadership going into the polling booths. An opinion poll out today might claim that the Tories have lost out to Labour after the latter party’s “conference bump”, but the reality of Tory propaganda heading to every company tea room in the country on a daily basis has yet to sink in.
And behind all of it, not a British aristocrat but an Australian, Rupert Murdoch, a man with his fingers in more supposedly democratic pies than most American Presidents have managed, a man with a unique power to shape our understanding of history, the present and direction for the future. It will be very hard for anyone trying to go doorstepping for Labour this election season not to become downbeat as they hear constituents repeating the Sun’s headlines to them time and again.
The Murdoch Phenomena is all the proof one needs to understand that a Free Market does not make a Free Press. Indeed, his grip on newspapers, and more latterly his ability to shut them down, leaving entire swathes of America without a town rag to look to, show what happens when news is considered a marketable commodity. But more than this, here is a figure, if one were needed, who demonstrates the ability of the richest to control the topics of debate..
Now, many will argue that, in the age of the internet, when more money is spent on web advertising than on TV commercials, we should not assume that papers will have the same sway as before. This is in part true, but what we can’t ignore is that most blogs don’t get left for all to see; newspapers do. I usually read the Sun on the tube, train or bus, when I see a headline screaming at me. Obviously, like any good leftist, I read it because I’m angry at what it screams at me, but ignore I can’t, and I end up reading through, though I usually skip the first double spread if possible!
For others, its the newsagents, where those who can afford to run a newspaper get a free billboard for their views. For others, its the table in the tea room during lunch at work, where the Sun has much of its influence, its simple message making it much more memorable than any other newspaper (other than, perhaps, the Independent, when it does a particularly bold, single issue front page.
Blogs may be spreading, but they’re not spreading that far beyond the selection of people who can be bothered to read them. And the assumption that all blogs are devoid of influence from low-brow news sources is probably a fallacy, much like the assumption that blogging is better for the Democrats than the Republicans (the first real election blogging campaign having unseated a Democratic Senator).
Only time will tell if the onslaught of media hammerings awaiting Brown will make voters choose the Conservatives, or indeed provide the BNP enough material to get their first Westminster victories, as is the even more sinister risk. Either way, it is very possible that Brown’s last hopes of winning the General Election were today dashed by a man without a vote.