The UK election is on 8 June and I regret that I’m no longer eligible to vote as I’ve been out of the UK for more than fifteen years. However, I follow the debates and dogfights on the media and am dismayed by the poor quality of the coverage by the media. Of course, apart from state-owned BBC, the rest of the media is dominated by the Murdoch Press (Sky News, Times, Sun) and their ilk and essentially support the establishment against the people whilst purporting to be on the side of Everyman. The choice between a government that acts in the interests of the majority of its citizens and one that acts in the interests of big business and banks should be stark and clear. However, the media distorts the facts with unbelievably partial coverage; I listen to some of the Sky News journalists and the choice of language seems to be deliberate, almost as if there is a Sky News handbook listing perjorative words when describing anything socalist. I must particularly criticise Sophy Ridge and Kay Burley for their dreadful and rude interviewing technique with their constant interruptions. If I was being interviewed by them I would ask whether they would like to be interviewed by me as they usually seem to have more to say and their political opinions are barely disguised. Incidentally, the best of them is Faisal Islam, a total gentleman.
One of the problems with a democracy is that every few years, the people are called on to vote. US president James Madison echoed the reservations of Socrates when he observed that the dispossessed majority will naturally vote for a redistribution of wealth downwards, given half a chance. In their day wealth was land whereas we are now in an age of industrial capitalism where wealth is wealth concentrated in very few hands. This tendency has to be catered for in a capitalist system where it is natural for the power to rest with the people with money and that government will normally favour them. The media play a role in this by manufacturing consent; in other words, swaying public opinion by partial reporting of the truth and in careful choice of language to produce the required result. We call it propaganda. This is made much easier when the public is dumbed down or too busy or fearful. Sound bites were invented to help the ‘bewildered herd’ (to quote Walter Lippmann who said that the people functioned as a “bewildered herd” who must be governed by “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality). So in the UK, the Conservative Party mantra ‘strong and stable’ has been repeated so many times that it is now tedious and comical. What is not comical is that this is exactly the technique used by Josef Göbbels (and I quote: ‘…the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.) This is nothing to be proud of, to state the obvious.
The UK Labour Party is led by Jeremy Corbyn who has the largest mandate of any leader of any political party in Europe. Most of his MPs do not support him. His problem is that he is that rare thing, a Socialist, and the MPs are mostly Blairite; ie, soft Conservatives. Yet every time Corbyn opens his mouth he voices the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the people. He sees through cant and hypocrisy so clearly that it must infuriate those whose jobs is to maintain that particular house of cards. He has barely diguised contempt for most political journalists but he rarely gets angry. Theresa May is a hard-right Thatcherite but has poor powers of rhetoric. There is a programme on Sky News tomorrow night in which both she and Jeremy Corbyn are to be interviewed; Theresa May will not engage in a public debate. I expect Corbyn to come out of this on top and that the gap between Conservative and Labour will close still further when the people realise that, when they actually listen to what he says (as opposed to Sky News telling them their version) they find themselves agreeing.
I wonder whether common sense will prevail and that the people will vote in their best interests rather than in the best interests of bankers, businessman and the military. You’d think that after the financial meltdown of 2008 (the greatest theft in the history of mankind), our disastrous interventions in the Middle East fuelling terrorism at home, the increased personal debt of everyone in the UK, reductions in police, social services and an NHS in crisis, that we, the people, would have seen through the mirage of lies and half-truths that the media feed to us.
Or are we more stupid that even I had thought?