Vince was right, and we should have said so

December 22, 2010 9:48 am

Yellow CableBy Darrell Goodliffe

Vince Cable certainly caused a storm by saying he had ‘declared war on Rupert Murdoch’. Questions about the effectiveness and consistency of his prosecution of that war are legitimate, but the essential point – that Murdoch’s media empire should be dismantled – is correct. We should have said so but didn’t. Monopolies in general are anti-democratic and the enemy of social justice and democracy. In the media they are especially so because the media controls an important commodity.

Media outlets are a fairground mirror (you know the ones I mean, the ones that make you look extra fat, thin, tall or just plain kooky) through which many people view the wider world and this is what gives it power. Not only do they determine how we view news but to some degree what constitutes the news. This, however, does not make them (nor the owners of media monopolies) omnipotent and beyond account. That is something the Labour Party would be wise to remember.

New media can have a role in decreasing the power of media monopolies but there is only so much this can achieve without the backing of a government that is willing to undertake such a ‘war’ and win it.

It’s always argued that restricting monopolies is an attack on ‘freedom’ – usually by those with a vested interest in maintaining them – but the reverse is true. If we think about the whole public antipathy to ‘spin culture’, for example, we can see that this stems from an awareness that if politics and politicians are subservient to media interests then they are neglecting the people they represent. The media is not part of a chain of democratic accountability because it is simply not true that they ‘reflect people’s views and that is the reason they are commercially successful’. This is a sympathetic illusion created partly through unconscious processes of reflection and self-reflection and also through deliberate and quite conscious cultivation and propagation.

Going to ‘war’ with the likes of Rupert Murdoch is the only way to free the press and like it or not the only force capable of doing this is a government that has the courage to challenge Murdoch and his ilk in the name of democracy. Part of our policy review should be the consideration of including a commitment to make ‘one man, one newspaper’ less of a slogan and more a reality.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment England has a radical tradition Labour can embrace

    England has a radical tradition Labour can embrace

    St George’s Day seldom goes by without some features editor asking me to compile a list of things that define Englishness. It’s a pointless task. Top of my list of would be a love of Marmite, yet such a choice would immediately rule out half the population of England. The simple truth is that nations cannot be defined by character alone. It’s those things that we possess that other nations do not that truly define us: our society, our geography, […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Is Labour ready to appeal unashamedly to England?

    Is Labour ready to appeal unashamedly to England?

    Is Labour ready to appeal unashamedly to England? Whilst many party members feel (as I do) more British than English, that actually makes it more important to answer the question. Because whilst the Labour Party has in the past decade been more than comfortable in speaking directly to Scotland (something which is obviously in focus at the moment) and Wales (somewhere that is obviously under fire from the Tories at the moment), the same can’t be said about England. Sure, we’ve […]

    Read more →
  • News Why are the Lib Dems so shy?

    Why are the Lib Dems so shy?

    Regular readers will know that we’re always keeping an eye on Lib Dems leaflets. Their local propaganda sheets are always good for a questionable bar chart, or forgetting the name of the generic place their text is for – but they can also be quite shy about their party affiliation too. For example, take the “Islington Chronicle”. Sounds like a local paper, and there’s no Lib Dem logo and barely a splash of their trademark yellow. But it is, in […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Seats and Selections Have the Tories given up on Scotland?

    Have the Tories given up on Scotland?

    This morning we noted that the Tories haven’t selected candidates in nearly half of the most marginal Labour and Lib Dem seats. But what’s particularly telling is that in over 60% of target seats in the Midlands and the North they have so far failed to select a candidate, while the Independent claims that in Scotland there are no Tory parliamentary candidates at all. However, Mark Wallace over at ConHome notes that the Tories have in fact selected a total of two […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour go on UKIP offensive

    Labour go on UKIP offensive

    Labour have gone on the attack against UKIP, following the launch of their European election campaign over the weekend. Releasing a statement from Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, the response focusses on how right-wing UKIP are - suggesting this change of tack is to designed to put Labour supporters off switching their vote to Farage’s party. Ashworth said: “UKIP would have us believe they stand for working people but the truth is very different – they’re even more right […]

    Read more →