If Jeremy Corbyn was the unintended beneficiary of the vilest general election reporting of my lifetime, then Theresa May was the true casualty of the bile spewed out by Conservative-supporting newspapers.
She was so cocooned by the deadly embrace of the anti-Corbyn hate of Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch’s Sun that she was duped into thinking that having been crowned a popular hero by the UK’s two biggest selling tabloids, voters were bound to agree.
Press adulation is seductive for any Prime Minister. May was lauded from the moment she stood for the party leadership and then promised to deliver a hard Brexit.
The 52-48 Leave vote was seen by the Brextremist press – Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph – as their crowning achievement, an outcome that would not have been delivered if it had not been for their relentless 30-year demonisation of the European Union.
The fatal mistake of May and her team was a failure to realise the extent to which young people who felt their future had been stolen by Brexit were becoming highly politicised, and that unlike their parents, they relied on social media rather than the press.
Where Britain’s Conservative-supporting newspapers differ from the free press in so much of the western world is in their well-honed role as rabid propagandists.
As polling day approaches in the 2017 general election, the name of the game is to play down the flow of bad news that will become a tsunami with the looming prospect of a hard Brexit.
Any mention of the downside of the Leave vote in the 2016 EU Referendum is being quietly side lined by the Tory tabloids in the final weeks of the general election campaign.
In a calculated display of support, Theresa May’s staunchest cheerleaders are ignoring the impact of the transfer of bank and finance jobs to Frankfurt, Dublin, Paris and the like; the loss of academic and research funding; the falling off in industrial investment; or the steady drift away in skilled EU workers.
Instead the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph trumpet the positive message that a government under the “strong and stable leadership” of Prime Minister May will get the best deal for the UK from the Brexit negotiations.
When debating the role of broadcasters during the EU Referendum and its aftermath, my prediction has been that Brexit press cheerleaders like the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express will become ever more strident once Theresa May has triggered Article 50.
Little did I know that within days, ultra-Brexiteers such as Iain Duncan Smith, John Redwood and Theresa Villiers would be adding their names to a parliamentary broadside about the anti-Brexit bias of the BBC’s coverage.
Timing was significant because it coincided with the final confirmation that the Prime Minister intended to trigger Article 50 on March 29, 2017;
The Brexiteers’ reasoning in putting the frighteners on the BBC could not have been clearer: they are determined to do all they can to undermine, if not curtail, any attempts by broadcasters to explain the full economic impact of the UK leaving the European single market and customs union.
Files released by the Home Office have so far failed to reveal the operational secrets behind the Battle of Orgreave.
But they do show that officers of the South Yorkshire Police remained entirely confident that they believed their tactics were justified and effective in dealing with the largest confrontation during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
If the operational order for the day is ever released for public inspection, it might show whether the police set a trap for the pickets, luring them into a confrontation, as the National Union of Mineworkers has always suspected.
More documents are to be delivered to the National Archives, and 65 South Yorkshire files are also in the process of being examined, as the hunt continues for answers to the many questions raised by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.
In view of the refusal of the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to authorise a public inquiry into the events that day, the Orgreave campaigners are determined to discover who was responsible for a “military” style assault on the pickets by 6,000 or more police officers that resulted in countless men being “seriously injured, falsely arrested and wrongly prosecuted”.
Donald Trump’s attacks on the truthfulness of the main stream media might have shocked the political establishment in Washington, but they have been a tried and tested ploy of South American revolutionaries – and were the weapon of choice for Arthur Scargill during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
Studies just published by the British Journalism Review and the Columbia Journalism Review explore the thinking behind the tactics of lashing out at reporters and accusing them of peddling fake news.
In his paper for the BJR, Nicholas Jones says Trump’s brazen assault on the veracity of journalists has been as calculated and carefully crafted as the abuse fired off three decades earlier by Scargill.
Words and phrases used by the NUM President in his sustained denigration of the main stream media were almost interchangeable with the tirades of the US President about the ethics of the leading American news outlets.
When Trump harangued reporters and television crews corralled in media pens to accompanying boos from his supporters, his attacks mirrored Scargill when he berated the British news media for supporting Margaret Thatcher.