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February 12, 2022



AS the media makes more and more noise, normal people's attention looks aside, as it doesn't' matter. Like they say, "No matter who I vote for, the government always gets in."


«Although it is easy to overstate this power – people can be right-wing idiots without the help of the Sun or Mail – it still exists.»

Their power over voting, like that of party leaders, is pretty small, yet they have some power over public opinion, because:

* Most media target a specific segment of the population, and therefore are unlikely to reach and covert people with different opinions.

* But precisely because of that targeting they can change the opinions of their target segments.

So the "Daily Mail" is unlikely to convert young renters on insecure contracts to vote for the party of landlords and secure pensioners, but it can turn landlords and pensioners against one thatcherite factions and in favour of another.

The BBC (and to a much smaller extent "The Sun") targets instead multiple segments and that makes them far more powerful than the press.


«Like they say, "No matter who I vote for, the government always gets in."»

T Balogh's, in his book "The Establishment", wrote in 1959:
«"Whoever is in office, the Whigs are in power." It was Mr Harold Wilson himself, many years before he came to the Prime Minister's office»

The current liberal/globalist thatcherite campaign against Johnson, fronted by John Major, shows how the whigs don't even tolerate other thatcherites, the tory/nationalist thatcherites, as rivals.

A commenter on "The Guardian" in 2018 said: «I'm nearly thirty, which means I grew up under Major (just), Blair and Brown then Dave and Nick. In my considered opinion and the opinion of my peers - you couldn't fit a fag paper between them.»


«This revealed journalists’ disdain for policy analysis if favour of the “drama” of Westminster shenanigans. If we think of politics as being about policy»

Politics is not about policy, is is about interests, usually about material interests. It is administration, that is government, that is about policy.
Those who think of "politics as being about policy" (clintonistas, blairistas) have already given up on politics, because their assumption is that everybody have the same interests and thus there is only "centrist" politics (or that government is or should be made of wykehamist philosopher-kings who can be fair and just to everybody), so the only question is which policies are best at implementing "centrism". Wasn't David Cameron that appositely claimed that "We are all in the same boat"?

«But with so many regarding politics as cheap entertainment, so it retains influence.»

That is a very optimistic view: a less optimistic one is that since all major parties and all major media are agreed on thatcherism so "There Is No Alternative", and they are even agreed on the policies, then media hacks can only gossip about which thatcherite personality gets to enact those policies.

An even less optimistic view is that media hacks *want* to only gossip about thatcherite personalities to be "performative", that is to instil in their readers the assumption that policy and even more so politics are not proper topics of discussion, because "Washington Consensus"/"end of history".


I find it interesting that this blog delineates between politics and media as though they are two different things. The way I see it is that there is a political power structure - which straddles parliament, think tanks, the unions *and the media*. Journalists and their editors don’t impartially report the facts - they are engaged in a constant shaping of narrative - they are political players of the crudest form. The power of the papers arises because they are the officially sanctioned weavers of stories which politicians themselves are framed by. I half wonder if this is a reason circulation is dropping: people have become alienated by the partisan nature of the papers - which are reporting to politicians not the public.


«Their power over voting, like that of party leaders, is pretty small»

And it does not matter a lot: as usual many commenters focus on epiphenomena like voting or counting, but they miss the bigger story. Why would the proprietor elites of the USA be so keen on "representative democracy", when it could turn against them? Not because of the "democracy" aspect but because of the "representative" aspect:

* Representatives have proven to be in large part weak, venal and thus easily purchased, directly or indirectly.

* Regardless, the proprietor elites in the USA have figured out that voting or even counting don't matter much, compared to nominating the candidates, and that power of nomination is also easily purchased.

Compare a proprietor elite under the government of a "strongman" (dictator, king, sheikh, generalissimo, ...) and of a democratic government:

* The "strongman" if they really are so have a strong power base, they don't owe their power to others, and can extort the proprietor elite and squeeze them hard.

* The democratic representatives don't usually have their own power base, and are weak as they need constantly to beg for funds from the proprietor elites to get nominated and elected.

In particular having expensive primaries makes nomination as dependent on funding by the proprietor elite as being elected, and then exactly who (Johnson? Starmer? Davey???) is voted in office by the "proles" does not matter.

Note that this does not necessarily involve overt bribery of the candidates for nomination and election: the proprietor elite can simply fund those who are ideologically compatible with them, without any specific "quid-pro-quo". This has been blessed by the USA Supreme Court, which has rules that since money is speech, even paying a retainer to an elected politician for "ingratiating" purposes is a constitutional right of the proprietor elite.

The case where the proprietor elites accept or even prefer "strongmen" is when they are actually weak, and instead of lording over them, need their support. For example the absolute monarchies of the arab area, where the population is 80-90% immigrant, or are coveted by their neighbours, and thus their "strongmen" utterly depend on the support of proprietor elites (foreign ones usually) to stay in power, see Kuwait in 1990).

The other common case where "strongmen" are preferred or tolerated is when they rule over a resource-rich country, as that facilitates the extraction of profits from those resources.


«have a strong power base, they don't owe their power to others, and can extort the proprietor elite and squeeze them hard»

One special case is politicians who are sponsored by rival interests, in particular the labor unions: they don't owe their power to the proprietor elites, but to labor union members, and therefore are like "strongmen" and even worse, as they would govern in the interests of the many, not of their own and of their henchmen like other "strongmen" do.

That is why the "centrists" have worked so hard to eliminate the role of lasbor unions in supporting political parties, and so the careers of politicians, so that only the proprietor elites be left to "sponsor" those careers. The political role of labor unions is far more important than their role in mere labor contract negotiations and other "trade" matters.


«this blog delineates between politics and media as though they are two different things»

That is the classic liberal propaganda view of their roles.

«half wonder if this is a reason circulation is dropping: people have become alienated by the partisan nature of the papers»

They have always been partisan (see quotes below), but the circulation drop is due several factors:

* There are only so many hours per day people can read/watch media.

* Because of various factors these have been shrinking.

* Because of technology developments other media have increased their share of the hours that people can devote to reading/watching media.

* The organizations, like parties and labor unions, who used to play a big role in discussing the media, have waned. Once upon a time worker clubs and tory associations had evenings where newspapers and the hansard were read and discussed, not any more.


«always been partisan (see quotes»

Harold MacMillan, 1963: "It is wonderful not to read the newspapers — except a rapid glance through The Times. It makes such a difference. One feels better, mentally and morally, not to be absorbing unconsciously, all that steady stream of falsehood, innuendo, poison which makes up the Press today, apart from purely informative sections."

Thomas Jefferson, 1814: "I deplore with you the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, & mendacious spirit of those who write for them: [...] these ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste, and lessening it’s relish for sound food. as vehicles of information, and a curb on our functionaries they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief."

George Orwell, 1943: "Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. [...] I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’."

George Orwell, 1945: "The Daily Worker disapproves of dictatorship in Athens, the Catholic Herald disapproves of dictatorship in Belgrade. There is no one who is able to say - at least, no one who has the chance to say in a newspaper of big circulation - that this whole dirty game of spheres of influence, quislings, purges, deportation, one-party elections and hundred per cent plebiscites is morally the same whether it is done by ourselves, the Russians or the Nazis."


The influence of British media influence rests on easily accessible, clear, repetitive news coverage and a remarkable and increasing similarity in coverage and interpretation. Differences in interpretation between the Times and Guardian have lessened and are currently minimal. So, the media influence as a whole persists.


There was a time when I would read the Guardian daily as an alternative to the Times, but these last few years Guardian echoes Times so why bother. Also, Economist and Financial Times are the same and too slanted to bother with.

Possibly it was Tony Blair who in going after the BBC made sure British media would be government media.


I don't think party membership can have much of an effect - Labour Party membership is (even now) higher than at any time since 1980, which ought to mean things have got (marginally) better. As for the million-strong years, prior to 1980 constituency Labour Parties were constitutionally required to have a membership of no less than 800, which made official figures less than reliable.


If you are not a newspaper reader then who influences your opinions? Friends and family, social media, television. The latter two get a lot of information from newspaper stories. 25% of UK adults are illiterate and innumerate in any case.
If any of those older friends and relations read newspapers and take their opinion writings as true i.e. it fits with their biases. then they appear authoritative spouting to their friends and family who have no information to inform any contrary opinion. The easy, lazy way is not to check but simply to accept a plausible (one sided) story. So biased views spread even more readily than in the past.

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