One might imagine that some, if not all, of the ostensibly professional and highly qualified controllers of the news media (both print and broadcast) would have been aware of the likely consequences of giving wide coverage and exposure in state-wide election ballots to merely five political parties and their representatives where solely one party was at significant variance with the other four, with all other parties being largely ignored.
I refer, of course, to the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP parties in the elections to the so called ‘European’ Parliament earlier this year. With all the ‘minor’ parties having been effectively rendered silent or invisible if not both, the sole option for for electors looking to register an anti-EU vote appeared to be UKIP. The outcome, as we all now know, was to ensure that UKIP was far more successful in attracting votes than Nigel Farage could have really expected, whilst minor parties fared worse than in 2009.
The presence of the English Democrats for the third time in these elections was eclipsed by the ‘big five’. Even the newcomer and spoiler ‘An Independence from Europe’ and the BNP with much greater resources were rendered largely invisible. [The power of the media’s highly selective and exclusive operations is illustrated by the Newark By-Election which followed soon after the EU Elections. A total of eleven candidates stood, but who remembers parties other than Conservative and UKIP who were front-runners, plus Labour and Lib Dems to see how badly they would perform. In the event both the Green and Lib Dem candidates lost their deposits.]
The scenario above prompts two questions: Were those operating the media at the time (1.) aware of the likely consequences, or (2.) merely incompetent? I am inclined to the latter opinion. However, I also believe that they are aware that their involvement was (is) arbitrary and unbalanced, and that it prevents election ballots from being clean and fresh formalities.
It was clear during the run-up to the election campaign and the campaign itself that the Coalition parties and Labour tried to smear UKIP’s pronouncements as being ‘racist’ and somehow unacceptable. Such was their sanctimonious conceit that they failed to grasp that UKIP was reflecting widely held opinions and that attacks on UKIP were regarded as attacks on many voters’ opinions and, therefore, they bolstered UKIP’s support.
Lord Ashcroft’s polling of fourteen marginal Conservative seats earlier this year indicated that strong UKIP support is more likely to be detrimental to the Conservatives by ‘letting in’ Labour. Are we to believe that Tory strategists and their media allies ran their campaign to suppress awareness of minor parties conscious of this factor; I think not!
The plain fact is that the big four and the media contrived (consciously or otherwise) to minimise support for any other parties which seem likely to split the UKIP vote.
I suggest that these factors lend support for the conclusion that, despite the huge resources available to the big four [some of it being public funds] and the PR skills boasted by the media practitioners, they were simply incompetent. Worse, their biassed interference in the election was not only unfair but anti-democratic. [The print and broadcast media (especially the BBC) are other spheres in which Scots are significantly over-represented, but that’s another story.]
With the acquiescence of the major parties, the news media prevent electors from having knowledge of the full choice available to them before they come to complete their Postal Ballot Forms or enter the polling booth. They fall short of the ideal of telling the truth, the whole truth to voters. In principle, they are akin to Goebbels in their approach to propaganda.*
Small wonder then that those voters aware of such factors conclude that election ballots are farcical! So much for a ‘free press’!! So much for democracy!!
* “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”