Thoughts on the Media and the EU Referendum 193

Al Jazeera’s Listening Post programme on the EU referendum media coverage was just broadcast. They only used about 5% of what they recorded of me, split into four soundbites to fit their format.

I think the much more interesting points I made were not used at all. So just for the record, I also made these points:

a) I did not accept the argument that the BBC was biased in the referendum campaign towards Brexit. Indeed especially in the last few days, I thought it was biased towards Remain.
b) However the BBC had been guilty of helping promote Brexit by giving Farage massive and disproportionate publicity for many years, from when UKIP was a negligible electoral force. They were always willing to give right wings views publicity but not left wing views.
c) The right wing print media were indeed a major problem distorting democracy. However the solution to this should be to break up media ownership, not impose government control of content.
d) Project Fear had not succeeded in the Scottish referendum. It had seen a 35 point unionist lead cut to a 10 point lead, making it one of the most disastrous campaigns in history. The question of why Project Fear “succeeded” in Scotland but not the EU referendum was therefore a false one.
e) Media coverage focused on the despised political class rather than the facts.

I do not blame Al Jazeera at all or accuse them of doing anything unethical – they were looking for soundbites for their broadcast. But I do think the above points which they did not broadcast, were a great deal more interesting than their programme!

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193 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Media and the EU Referendum

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  • bevin

    Interesting that the Herald, ‘reporting’ on the clash between the leader and deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party do so in terms which are unmistakably Blairite:
    “…Dugdale and Rowley, who were elected leader and deputy leader of Scottish Labour last year, clashed on Corbyn’s future. The split became evident last week when the party’s sole MP, Ian Murray, quit as Corbyn’s shadow Scotland secretary. Despite Murray being a close ally of Dugdale, Rowley accused the MP of putting “self-interest before the needs of the country”.

    “Dugdale later said it would be “difficult” for Corbyn to continue in post – a clear indication she wants him to resign – but Rowley signed a letter backing the embattled left-wing leader.

    “One senior Scottish Labour source said: “Their relationship has completely broken down.”

    “A second party insider also queried Rowley’s support for Corbyn: “It’s odd, given that Alex believed Corbyn wasn’t popular on the doorsteps during the Holyrood election.” A third party source said of Rowley: “He couldn’t have been more unhelpful if he had tried.”

    “Another Dugdale ally believes Rowley has failed to behave like a deputy leader since he won the post. Within days of taking on the role, he called for a referendum on Trident renewal, which is not Scottish Labour policy….”

    Another interesting tidbit in the story (‘they call them that because they are all made up’) is that ‘the leader’ is shortly departing to the USA where she intends to attend a “leadership” course, presumably in order to brush up on her leadership skills.
    Don’t they offer such courses in Brussels?

    • RaibeartMac

      ‘the leader’ is shortly departing to the USA where she intends to attend a “leadership” course, presumably in order to brush up on her leadership skills. Don’t they offer such courses in Brussels?

      Does the Henry Jackson Society have a branch in Brussels??

  • bevin

    The daftest headline in The Observer today is:
    1/ Poll reveals young remain voters reduced to tears by Brexit result.
    or the more conventional:
    2/ Endless lies persuaded Ebbw Vale to vote Leave
    there is also, the old favourite:
    3/The nationalists threaten the EU’s fragile balance

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I have almost exactly the same name – and am almost exactly the same age – within a few months…

    but they don’t want to arrest me – and put me in jail for The Rest of My Life..because I have not done anything wrong



    See you in Court


  • nevermind

    here is a view from the inside discussion on the EU and what it has achieved to slit viewpoints which were already moving apart. Its all about closer integration versus a slow down and reflection.

    don’t miss the interesting second part ‘you are lying to us’ and compare the similarities with what goes on here.

    an extract

    “On Tuesday evening, EU heads of state and government come together for what could be their last supper together with Cameron. On the following morning, they make clear to Juncker that they will be taking the lead in the exit negotiations with Britain. “But that is the Commission’s responsibility,” Juncker protests. “Jean-Claude, we have been elected, you haven’t been,” is the rejoinder from several prime ministers and heads of state.”

    So there is an appetite to change the equation of unelected Commissioners, so much so that they are not trusted to do the Brexit negotiations, change is on the way and we are sitting outside looking on, having no input to shape this change anymore. I hope that Ms. Leadsome and her off shoring pals in the City are happy.

      • michael norton


        Out of EU by the SPRING: Andrea Leadsom pledges the United Kingdom would be on fast-track to Brexit if she wins.
        She has leapfrogged back-stabber Justice Secretary Michael Gove in the race to Number 10 and says she is considering whether Britain could leave the EU by an Act of Parliament, which could see us quitting as early as next spring.

        Mrs Leadsom, 53, said:
        “I believe our future will be so much greater when we leave the EU and so I am utterly determined to deliver on that promise.”

        All the woman has to do is get rid of Mrs. May?

        • Ba'al Zevul

          Do you work for the Express, Michael? Or do you just read nothing else? Incidentally, Turkey won’t be getting anywhere near the EU in the foreseeable future. Germany’s got quite enough Turks already, thanks very much, and the human rights issue, which was always a major obstacle, has worsened. This is a typically Express scare, designed to promote the UKIP version of Leave – it’s virtually the UKIP house organ these days, and it’s only preaching to the converted. I say this as someone who voted Leave.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    BBC Radio 4 will be interviewing someone called Tony Blair at 1.00 PM today. About the only comfort that can be drawn from this is that even the strapped BBC can now afford his rates – which are declining due to the heavy oversupply problem in the blairing market.

    However, R4’s trailer hints that the interview will not only be soliciting his sublime opinion on the EU but will perhaps mention Iraq….R4 did a little archive piece on the aftermath of the invasion this morning, conveying a definite impression that this had been less than a perfect result.
    And continues to be. Around 80 people died in a car bomb attack in Baghdad this morning.

      • michael norton

        At the moment the polls have Marine Le Pen way out in Front

        Christian La Roche, a French retiree sunning himself in the town square of Villers-Cotterêts, thinks the British are “simply brilliant” for deciding to leave the EU. “They have had the courage to put two fingers up to Brussels,” he says. “And I don’t praise the British lightly.”

        Now, Mr La Roche, a supporter of the far-right, anti-EU National Front, is demanding that he and his compatriots be given a similar ballot. “We should at least be asked [if we want to be in the EU] now,” he says. “Politicians should give us the choice.”
        High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights.

        The UK’s shock referendum vote is fast moving to the centre of politics across the channel, where French politicians are now debating the wisdom of holding their own EU referendum — and how it might affect the course of next year’s presidential elections.

        Marine Le Pen, the FN leader, has already promised a straight “in-out” vote on France’s EU membership if she is elected next year, convinced it will tap the same well of dissatisfaction that propelled the Brexit campaign.

        James Shields, professor of French politics at Aston University in the UK, called Brexit a “gift for Le Pen”

        • michael norton

          I wish the FRENCH people well in their struggle
          to shake off the shackles of E.U. narrowness.

    • Alcyone: How long, our Type Zero Global Civilisation?

      THE Evil Bastard–self centred megalomaniac!

      My mind always goes back to the days immediately preceding the Iraq offence, when Baghdad citizens went about their daily lives and shopping in the bazaars in the evening, with the near-certain threat of WAR. Helpless and destined for their whole country to be raped, plundered and pillaged, what could the proverbial ‘common man’ do? They could not have known that the situation would become a thousand times worse than their worst nightmare, even under Saddam. Blair should be strung by his evil balls. Only seeing him in the dock could help begin to redeem the situation.

      Why are UK charities not collecting on behalf of the millions in Iraq still affected? Why is their no outpouring of compassion in that direction? We are responsible for having reelected that murderer who destroyed the whole of the Iraqi society and raped their country, in the name of, listen to this, ‘Democracy’.

      And the joke of it all, we reelected him!

      And Cameron with his foray into Libya, is he any better?

  • James

    I think “social history” is important, but I appreciate that it maybe classed an infringement of board rules, however, it should be taken in the broader context. The context of “politics and people”.

    The “ignorance” of the “elite and political class” (and I may add in an “unregulated banking system”).
    The rise of an “undemocratic politics”, with a powerful “socially appealing narrative” for “the ignored”.

    Parliament is Sovereign. However “undemocratic” a “Parliamentary Remain vote” may appear, it has to be a route that is taken, in the national interest.
    The job of “explaining” the issue, should be left to “the qualified”, rather than the “Mainstream Media”, who have provided “child like” coverage of this most serious issue, thus far.

    • michael norton

      There seems to be a “few” E.U. countries, now considering their position
      or at least slabs of their populations are thinking about it, since BRITAIN has gone ballistic.

      the Netherlands

      let’s have a guess
      which will be the second E.U. country to break for cover?

    • Ba\'al Zevul

      Which would be fine and dandy if (a) the only route between ‘the qualified’ and the public were not the MSM, and (b) if ‘the qualified’ could bring themselves to tell the truth. The MSM, though it obviously adds its own biases, both as to selecting and reporting what it can find out, has lost touch with investigative journalism, and what it can find out predominantly consists of what ‘the qualified’ care to give it, in ready-spun handouts, soundbites and leaks. Generally speaking, what ‘the qualified’ are actually doing comes to light decades after they do it, in the form of deeply researched, academic, historical papers and books. None of which are serialised in the MSM, rightly, because they are no longer currently relevant.

      The issue of a Parliamentary vote – this would probably result in a remain vote, yes, given that most MP’s are pretty well-off, thank you, and on the whole benefit from the EU, whether or not their constituents do – is an intriguing one. The argument for accepting it would be that ‘ you, the plebs, voted for the MP to decide on your behalf what would be best for you, so this is democracy.’ The argument against is, obviously, ‘you voted directly to leave, regardless of who the last general election put in to represent you,
      and that’s a damn sight more like democracy.’

      • James

        A “disenfranchised” and ignored people (particularly in the North of England).

        And an “out of touch” political class (both in “Westminster” and at the “EU Commission”) coupled with a social ignorant “elite”.

        And the question was “In or Out of Europe”.

        Well, there was never a “channel” in politics for “the people” to feel they can voice their views AND be actually listened to….and to see “action”.

        We certainly have built ourselves a powder keg.

        • Ba\'al Zevul

          It’s arguable that while the question was ‘in or out…’ a lot of voters saw this as a very rare opportunity to be noticed on a much wider range of issues which had been swept under the carpet by successive governments: the effect of austerity, the long duration of austerity, commodification of employment, and contempt for workers’ justifiable rights, the unrestrained enrichment of the already obscenely rich, you name it. Then there were the overt issues, common to both the EU and any conceivable independent government, of immigration and excessive bureaucracy.

          These would have better been summarised by a referendum which asked ‘Are you in favour of a global economic structure or not?’… to which the informed egalitarian could only vote for ‘not.’ Unable to do so, he/she voted for Leave as a proxy. Though this was probably an unconscious decision for many.

          • James

            Completely agree.

            A “vote of no confidence” in the UK’s current “system”.

            And being “completely remote” from the “European Commission”, it just compounded the situation.

            And “one minute past the vote”, the “system” kicked back in again.
            And now the UK is probably looking at a “May or Grove” Prime Minister.

            Did the Condemned Man wish to be hung or shot ? Asked the Executioner

  • Bert.

    Unfortunately, breaking up the control of the media so few hands will not change very much. Owning any major newspaper requires a considerable fortune and therefore the owner is likely to be a right-wing nut-bag.

    RT, interestingly, several times could not do reports on the referendum because of the requirement for balance in broadcasting.


    • michael norton

      Former prime minister Tony Blair has said “we should keep our options open” on the UK leaving the European Union.

      He told the BBC the 48% who had voted to Remain felt “disenfranchised” and it was not clear “what we are moving to”.

      Mr. Blair, has nobody told you,
      absolutely no person gives a shit what you think

        • James

          Never have I found myself in a position that I agree (or rather “appreciate”) Tony Blair’s comments, but in this, he is “right”.

          The “EU Commission” will make the UK “pay” for “market access”.
          This will cover….
          1. Funding
          2. The movement of people
          3. Regulations

          1. It won’t be cheap. Less than £8.5 billion is “a deal”. But £8.5 billion or plus, isn’t good.
          2.. It may not include Romanians or Bulgarians, other than those in employment now
          3. They will remain the same

          It is a “powder and shot” exercise.
          The people have had a “rant”. And they are “right” to do so.
          But what is “right”, sometimes “doesn’t put bacon on the table”.

          If Grove gets in, you will see “privatisation” of the NHS begin.
          If May gets in, kiss your “Human Rights” goodbye.

          At least Cameron was all “p*ss and wind”.

  • michael norton

    Brexit: Chicken Boy George pledges to cut corporation tax

    That would give the UK the lowest corporation tax of any major economy.

    Mr Osborne said the cut was part of his plans to build a “super-competitive economy” with low tax rates.

    So, he must be planning we are actually going to leave the hated E.U.

    • James

      “In an interview with the Financial Times, the chancellor said he would cut the rate to below 15% – some 5% lower than its current 20% rate”

      The UK is going “Celtic Tiger” !

      But wait a minute, that only worked as Ireland became the “aircraft carrier” for American companies wanting to get into Europe….
      ….and the UK won’t be in Europe !

      It’s a “tax cut” bribe. Cash for Companies.
      So…. “no more Public Funding”.

  • Ray

    Project Fear was turned on its head and became fear of Muslims and immigrants and that was much more frightening for people who seemed to be caught up in a sort of mass hysteria led by screaming headlines.

    • James

      Ron…. sorry Ray

      “Project Fear was turned on its head and became fear of Muslims and immigrants…..”

      Me, you, trench,1918 … i’d hope I could shoot you !

  • Dave Lawton

    Its War.”This guy is calling for the Elites to declare war on the poor. “Today’s citizen revolt — in the United States, Britain, and Europe — may upend politics as nothing else has in my lifetime.”
    ‘Elites’ Called To Arms: “It’s Time To Rise Up Against The Ignorant Masses” | Zero Hedge
    “The Brexit has laid bare the political schism of our time. It’s not about the left vs. the right; it’s about the sane…

  • thermobaric

    it was NOT a Scottish referendum, it was a united kingdom referendum, words matter and you sir are off kilter and off the twitter feeds we take.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    My old tutor Professor John Curtice, not exactly known as a man of the extreme left, thinks it’s a lot of crap that Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for the referendum result – and he also thinks it’s a lot of crap that the MPs are pretending otherwise: “The referendum outcome looks more like a pretext for an attempt to secure Mr Corbyn’s removal than a reason” (New Statesman).

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