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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, May 22, 2015

is British journalism dead?

My first draft for this post went as follows – “If ever people needed proof that British journalism and newspapers are no longer capable of serious analysis and comment, they got it in the days immediately after the General Election earlier this month…..with prominence being given to the disgusting “spin” we were given by the Bliarites of the Labour Party that its electoral failure was due to its rejection of “New Labourism” and its overly “leftist” stance”  

This was then to point to the best analysis I have so far read of the results – being not in a newspaper but in one of Britain’s most sustained (and left) blogwriters – Boffyblog which is currently running a series of posts to help us interpret the results. Part 3 gives us the basic facts
in England, Labour gained exactly as many additional seats as did the Tories – 24. In addition, Labour's vote share, across the UK, rose by twice as much as did the Tories, 1.5% points for Labour as opposed to 0.8% points for the Tories, despite the huge fall in Labour's vote in Scotland.Labour's failure to gain a majority, therefore, most certainly cannot be placed at the door of the party having moved too far to the Left. It gained seats in England, on the basis of its mildly left stance, just not enough to compensate for the seats it lost in Scotland.
The loss of seats in Scotland, most certainly could not be put down to standing on too left a programme, given that the SNP swept the board on the basis of a much more left-wing populist stance.

Other parts of his series do something which almost no journalist bothers these days to do - put the results in the context of how the Labour leadership since 1979 has tried to find a plausible strategy (or "narrative" as the post-modernists would put it) for the country’s economic difficulties which had evicted them from power

I will return to that important argument shortly – but I have first to make a detour since I realised that I was not on solid ground in simply asserting that British journalists are no longer capable of independent analysis. I only read one newspaper - the liberal-leaning Guardian  and am beginning to realise that I have been taking its integrity and fairness too much for granted. 
I simply don’t read other British newspapers – so have no basis for saying there are no independents left. 
Of course I know the corporate structure of these newspapers gives little hope of finding unbiased coverage – but I can’t just assume that. 
Who knows – perhaps I would be surprised if I actually took the time and trouble to do a proper analysis?? 
An idea for a quick bit of research and future post???

As long as I can remember I have been a Guardian reader. I know that the Financial Times is supposed to have better European coverage but my left-wing sympathies made me assume I would get fairer coverage in The Guardian. And, certainly, the way it has in recent years dealt with first the scandal of phone-tapping by the Murdoch press; and then the Wikipedia leaks has demonstrated great courage….

But I became increasingly uneasy when I saw how the paper dealt with Craig Murray’s allegations of American-British collusion in torture in Uzbekistan (duly vindicated by Wikileaks) and the outright propaganda of journalists such as Polly Toynbee…and (in Scotland) Severin Carroll. The speed, therefore, with which Guardian journalists moved to feed us the new Labourist spin has shocked me……Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised – the Guardian has always supported the “Liberal way” – the only journalist apparently allowed to tell it from an open and radical stance has been John Harris
So where to go for honest, unbiased analysis??? 

Before I go, let me give you another bit of Boffy’s independent analysis – dealing first with the “myth” that, under Michael Foot, the Labour party was unelectable – he reminds us that it was the breakaway of the (new labour) SDP which caused a drop in electoral support which was however restored; and that the 1983 election was lost because of the upsurge of nationalist sentiment which came from the Falklands War…..
Apart from a very short spike in support for the SDP at the end of 1981, coinciding with the Crosby By-Election, Labour remained above both the Tories and the Liberal/SDP, with an average poll rating of about 40%. Labour suffered a temporary reduction in support due to the betrayal of the SDP, but the main reason it lost in 1983, was not Michael Foot, nor the SDP, nor its programme being the longest suicide note in history, as Golding described it, but the willingness of Thatcher to see the loss of thousands of lives in the Falklands War, and the Tories ability to whip up nationalist hysteria on the basis of it.  
Cameron has won today, for similar reasons. The SNP declared a political war on England on nationalistic grounds, and the Tories responded in like manner, by unleashing English nationalism in response. Nicola Sturgeon, simply fulfilled the same role for Cameron that Galtieri performed for Thatcher.
What is more, this nationalistic sentiment played into the existing nationalistic sentiment that existed, in places, and was manifest in support for UKIP, a nationalism whose focus was not necessarily directed against Scotland, but against the EU, and migrants. 

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