With the general election only a few weeks away it is just as well Teresa May has got the media on her side. So far her performances on the campaign trail have been poor. Journalists have had to submit questions with a local reporter being swiftly shown the door in Devon for having the audacity to ask one extra question that wasn’t on the list.
Everything has been stage-managed with May even playing the jingoism card by accusing the EU of trying to interfere because they fear how she won’t stand any nonsense from those pesky Europeans.
The Conservative sound bites have also had the impact of a clumsy theatrical dive of a footballer trying to get a penalty as May once again gets ‘strong and stable government,’ into a sentence with the shout of bingo as the final cliché has been spoken.
Then there is the embarrassment of the hacking of the NHS computer database with the hackers holding personal details to ransom. If it had been a Labour government it would have been a guarantee that they would have got crucified especially as they were fully aware that the security was weak but were not prepared to stump up the cash.
Journalism and the news media have been far from impartial for it to be to be too much of a surprise. There are too many vested interests with media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch intent on their news outlet to press forward their views on the public. If there is anything that goes or threatens their interests then you can guarantee an attack on that person or institution.
The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn are nothing short of sinister even before this campaign. It is as though the likes of Murdoch won’t take any chances by continually attacking him. Whether its questioning his patriotism by not bowing properly enough, labelling him as weak, or simply Corbyn’s dress sense it has been a drip, drip, drip attack that people slowly absorb. Headlines such as ‘Corb snubs the Queen,’ or even the subtle Sunday Times headline ‘Corbyn sparks Labour civil war,’ or ‘Corbyn Union pals pledge strike chaos,’ all give the impression of someone struggling to keep control and not knowing what they are doing. Of course you will hear people say that you can’t trust the papers but with the constant negative headlines there are some that believe that they must be some truth.
Even the media that profess to be left such as the Guardian can’t help but be aghast and look at ways at undermining Corbyn. The likes of Polly Toynbee who wail at the lack of leadership and his policies not being credible to Nick Cohen throwing his toys out of the pram due to the audacity of Labour members daring to vote for who they want as leader and not his choice is breathtaking. Again it gives the impression that Corbyn is a bumbling fool that doesn’t live in the real world.
The slightest mistake or controversy is magnified and used to hammer the fact that Corbyn is unsuitable to be Prime Minister. Take for example Diane Abbott getting her figures completely messed up about the cost of extra Policing if Labour was elected Government. It was further fuel that a Labour government didn’t really know it’s figures and would not only deliver but put the country into debt. Recently Abbott was also mocked by getting lost on stage after addressing the Police federation conference.
Nothing though was made of Amber Rudd being openly mocked by Police at the same federation conference when claiming officers were on £40,000 a year when questioned about Officers using food banks. To make matters worse Rudd dug the hole further by trying to deflect the blame by saying ‘so I’m told,’ despite it being her business being the Home Secretary.
Philip Hammond also made another blunder by getting the cost of HS2 wrong by £20 billion on BBC’s radio 4 Today programme after ironically questioning Labour’s figures. Again nothing major was made of this gaffe. Nothing about whether you can trust a May government when her chancellor can’t even get his figures right or kindling the hysteria that a Conservative government would be incompetent. Instead it was casually brushed over.
It has had the required impact on the British public who view Jeremy Corbyn as an unreliable maverick at best. Take for example a member of the public who was asked what they thought of Labour’s manifesto. The man in question liked the policies and believed it would benefit the UK as a whole. However when the journalist asked if that meant he would be voting Labour the man paused before saying ‘I won’t be voting for that Jeremy Corbyn he’s not suitable to be leader,’ and with that casually strolled off.
That member of the public is not the only person to hold that type of view. One person stated that they ‘didn’t like that Jeremy Corbyn.’ When asked why they were unable to elaborate or provide a reasonable argument as to why Jeremy Corbyn is unsuitable to be leader they couldn’t as their opinion had been influenced by the newspaper headlines.
The media has from the outset done everything to undermine Corbyn. From the brash, vulgar, sneering headlines questioning Corbyn’s patriotism to subtly implying that Corbyn does not have a clue and will plunge the country into chaos if he is handed the keys to number ten.
Even the tones of the questions at Labour MPs or officials are constantly negative despite the responses. It will turn to the cost and querying as to whether it is realistic. The Conservatives are of course asked difficult questions but then spun to something where they can talk positively about another policy.
Of course Jeremy Corbyn should be held accountable and questioned by the media as should Teresa May and other political leaders. However newspapers and other media outlets should be impartial and doing their job of reporting and presenting the facts to the public. There equally should be none of this sensational nonsense that somehow makes every tragedy somehow a drama.
A news outlets job should be to present the facts and let people decide from their reports. Everyone in a position of responsibility should be robustly challenged and there should certainly be none of the mocking and biased headlines that are casually fired at will. If there was true impartiality then a newspaper or any media outlet would not declare any support for any of the political parties. The fact that they do and this includes the media professing to be left-wing shows that they have a vested interest.
For those considered to be part of the establishment or simply rich the Conservative party represents their interests. Consequently they ensure that the media outlets that they own represent their views. If Corbyn is perceived as a threat then they will do their utmost to convince people that he can’t be trusted.
Even when Labour lands a significant blow such as Emily Thornberry embarrassing Michael Fallon on Andrew Marr, (Thornberry reminded him that he was present at a reception celebrating the election of the Syrian President Assad in 2007) it doesn’t warrant much of a mention within the press.
In this day and age with the internet and social media making people more aware than previously of what is happening in the world you would think there would be more cynicism regarding the press. However with the constant negative headlines whether it is hearing the news on TV, radio, or newspaper, people are influenced and with regards to Corbyn feel that he is to be mistrusted.
The media is very much an important tool and if you have it behind you then it can help the most mediocre politician. Crude as Teresa May’s slogans are the constant drip, drip of the Conservatives providing a ‘strong and stable government,’ whilst ‘Corbyn is ineffective,’ will seep into people’s minds come polling day.
It is a pity that we don’t have a real fair and impartial press that holds all political parties to account thus allowing the population to make a considered judgement from the facts. Certainly the media in its current guise cannot be relied on.