Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

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.

While the ability of pro-Conservative newspapers to manipulate and often dictate the news agenda far outweighed the political impact of a burgeoning online discourse during the 2015 general election, there was no doubt that the power and reach of social media did have a profound effect on the conduct of the campaign.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and host of other inter-active services became the top destination for instant news and comment.

Political journalists complained that they had been deprived of the chance to question politicians with the thoroughness of previous elections, but in many ways they had been complicit in allowing the internet to become a pivotal channel of channel of communication.

All too often correspondents and presenters had themselves become slaves to social media, jostling with each other in cyber space in their clamour for attention.

Electioneering via the internet had led inexorably to a reduction in the opportunities for journalists to hold politicians to account.    

The Election A to ZSelfies with the party leaders were the breakout craze of the 2015 general election – and the must-see location was definitely the kitchen!

A post-election thesis might well seek to establish what proportion of the thousands of people who took selfies actually voted for the political party of the candidate with whom they had chosen to photograph themselves.

Judging by the way the leading contenders were photobombed by a sea of mobile phones and tablets, onlookers obviously had an overwhelming desire to capture their moment with a celebrity politician.

Was the rush for selfies a passing fad? Did it – and will it – have political dividends? The same can be asked about kitchens: why were photo-opportunities all the rage? Were politicians taking advantage of the great popularity of shows like the Great British Bake Off or MasterChef?

All these trends – and many more – are addressed in The Election A-Z, my latest book reflecting of 50 years’ of political reporting.

 

German politicians have much to learn from the unprecedented level of online engagement during the British general election of May 2010 and the American Presidential and mid-term elections.  In a lecture in Berlin to the Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft (17.11.2010), Nicholas Jones said that online discussion of politics came of age during the British election.  He was convinced that German political engagement via the internet will have the same unpredictable results in the run to up to the Bundestag elections in 2013.  

What greater challenge could there be for a political enthusiast than to be given ten minutes to tell twenty sixth formers the ten most important facts about the 2010 general election.