Jo Stevens MP

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Papers and Politics: Influencing the Election

Papers2.jpgAs we approach polling day, local graduate Tom shares his thoughts about how the media has handled the election campaign.

As the countdown to the election reaches hours, not days, it has been fascinating to watch so many newspapers try and influence the election. Studies show that the press has been more biased than ever before and in doing so, have let their readers down. 

Studies: The Guardian / Cardiff University

Our press freedom is a wonderful thing and something we must protect at all costs to help people to be informed about the choice they face on May 7th.

Here in Wales, we are fortunate to have some fantastic journalists whose coverage of the election has been fair, accurate and interesting. Nationally, however, the right-wing press has gone all out to try to shape the election, with Labour and Ed Miliband facing the most hostile press in British electoral history.

What we are seeing is these people trying to influence the outcome of the election through a smog of fear, backing the Tory & Lib Dem’s election strategy throughout.

One of the most important questions must be ‘in whose interest are these papers working?’ I would suggest that it’s not the readers; it’s the people who own the newspapers – people with vast wealth, power and influence, and their corporate concerns.

It’s no surprise that when Labour MPs like Ed Miliband and Tom Watson stood up to Rupert Murdoch, the attacks on Ed grew fierce, personal and untrue.

Keep digging below the surface though and you find that the owners of many of these papers are ’non-doms’ – using a 200-year-old tax loophole in order to not pay their fair share of tax. Labour will abolish this loophole.

What we are seeing is these people trying to influence the outcome of the election through a smog of fear, backing the Tory & Lib Dem’s election strategy throughout.

Firstly, they tried to cast Miliband as weird and a geek. When that wasn’t cutting through, then came the endless speculation about the possibility of a coalition being ‘illegitimate’.

The first of these tactics – constantly portraying Miliband in unflattering light – has been exposed, with Ed being able to shine the more the public get to see him.

The latter is complete scaremongering together with hypocrisy. With the Lib Dems supporting the Tories virtually every step of the way, this coalition has been a disaster for working people across our country, with the poor and the vulnerable hit the hardest.

Another term of the Tories and Lib Dems would mean two years of relentless debate about whether to stay in the EU, while there are more devastating cuts to public services, welfare and the NHS.

There has also been the pure, artificial hysteria. Daily Mail columnists have compared trusting Labour with ‘trusting Jimmy Saville to babysit’ and the Sun thinks that ability to eat a sandwich is the benchmark by which leaders should be judged.

These are just a couple of the most recent, ridiculous examples of papers insulting their readers’ intelligence. Although, in the interest of fairness, I ought to point out that vile, attention-seeking Sun columnist Katie Hopkins promised leave the UK if Miliband won the election, so it’s not been all bad.

Compare Cameron to Miliband. One has ducked out of debates, while the other has taken on all challengers. One has been in a coalition that has seen living standards slashed, while the other is accused of being ‘in Nicola Sturgeon’s pocket’ despite categorically ruling out an SNP coalition.

Whatever party you chose, I would urge you to get out and vote. You can decide the future of our country at the ballot box. 

The picture editors across these papers must have red eyes from the long hours choosing the most unflattering pictures of the Labour leader, while their journalists turn a blind eye to the rise of foodbanks and the plague of the Bedroom Tax.

The power of social media and the internet now means that Murdoch and chums have far, far less influence than ever before. People are more informed and it’s unlikely that it’ll be ‘the Sun wot won it’, although Katie Hopkins’ promise to leave the country may hopefully play a part.

There’s even been a surge of support for Ed in the form of the Milifandom – young people on Twitter have rallied behind Ed and stood against the press attacks on the Labour leader.

Whatever party you chose, I would urge you to get out and vote. You can decide the future of our country at the ballot box. The papers don’t have a vote, Murdoch doesn’t have a vote, but you do. Make sure your voice is heard.

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