Murdoch decides it all (again!)

Thursday, 1st October 2009 at 8:00 UTC 3 comments

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.


Entry filed under: democracy, Elections, Labour Party, Media, News, Party Politics, Politics.

Poll: Religion and Politics in Blogging St Therese of Lisieux

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Daniel  |  Thursday, 1st October 2009 at 11:55 UTC

    While I agree with the sentiment of the piece, I have to say I disagree with the conclusion.

    In all likelihood, Labour’s hopes of winning the election were dashed long before yesterday. The multiplicity of reasons cannot be articulated in a comment. Suffice to say, the Sun’s criticism of Labour did not start yesterday, and more widely criticism of Brown has been a recurrent theme in all sectors of media (even the mere blogs).

    Cameron was inaugurated in spite of David Davis’s impressive speech, which was subverted in the press. The powers that be in the smoky back rooms of Britain’s institutions long ago threw their endorsement at Cameron, and since Brown has tried to no avail to woe them.

    The cynicism of Murdoch’s timing was malicious, but not fatal. The fatal blows to Labour have come from all over the press, including the left, mainly because Labour deserved it. Labour have been shocking because they tried to toe a third way that led to nowhere. Giddens did not stumble across a new way, the thought was not original, it was a stupid thought that any forward thinking individual could foresee the consequences of: one will be torn between the demands of the powerful and the needs of the powerless.

    Now, for the first time in 12 years, the demands of the powerful do not require capitulation by Labour (and for that matter, the powerless). The gloves are off and I think most of the left, including the incumbent Labour politicians could not be happier. For the first time, they can stand for something. The consensus built around big business (Murdoch is over and the left are in power. Thus, for at least 6 months, we have the potential for left wing governance and legislation. They know they are going out, they may as well go out proud and fighting!

    While the fight may be futile, it will be eventful and potentially productive for leftist politics.


    On a rather flippant note, you seem to actually endorse the idea that we live in a free market, strange that.

    Hope you’re well mate.


    • 2. Lois  |  Thursday, 1st October 2009 at 12:53 UTC

      Daniel, I suspect Labour are unlikely to do that for fear of burning their boats and harming their chances of getting back into power in 5 years (or whenever).

      Perhaps as big a tragedy for democracy as Murdoch’s influence is the fact that many of his readership probably don’t bother to vote at all, whatever their views.


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