Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Looking back on nearly fifty years as a political journalist, there is no doubt in my mind that the power and influence of the British news media has shaped the politics of the UK – far more so, I would say, than in other European countries.

 

While the argument continues about the validity of Kelvin Mackenzie’s infamous 1992 general election headline, “It’s the Sun Wot Won it”, I do believe that favourable media coverage has in the past helped turn the certainty of victory into a landslide.

Tony Blair’s disturbing hold over the political and media elites of America can be traced back to 9/11 and the way he catapulted himself to the forefront of world attention.

To British audiences his tribute to the “People’s Princess” might be regarded as one of the defining soundbites of his Premiership but in the USA he gained the accolade of being the first western leader to make sense of the unfolding drama surrounding the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

In the face of an unrelenting flow of fresh accusations about telephone hacking at the News of the World, it was inevitable that Andy Coulson would have to stand down from his job as the Downing Street communications chief. But after nearly four years as the Prime Minister’s right-hand man in managing the news media, Coulson has demonstrated time and again his ability to connect David Cameron to the agenda of the popular press. 

Senior Metropolitan Police officers were not alone in their failure to get to grips with the scale of the student protests against higher tuition fees. David Cameron’s public relations team were similarly at fault for a lamentable performance in presenting the government’s case.

Given the skilful way the Conservatives have used the news media to prepare public opinion for the cutback in child benefit announced at this week’s party conference in Birmingham, it is no wonder that Labour MPs are continuing to gun for David Cameron’s communications chief Andy Coulson. 

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