Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Liberal Democrats, the British General Election and issues of free speech.


I came across a headline recently and it grabbed my attention: Nick Clegg's rise could lock Murdoch and the media elite out of UK politics. Intrigued I read on. The author, David Yelland, former editor of The Sun, went on to say Make no mistake, if the Liberal Democrats actually won the election – or held the balance of power – it would be the first time in decades that Murdoch was locked out of British politics. In so many ways, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote against Murdoch and the media elite. Read the whole article here Now I am really interested.

As I read on I was shocked to discover that ignoring the Liberal Democrats has been a deliberate policy of the Murdoch empire. We did not send a single reporter for fear of encouraging them......They are the invisible party, purposely edged off the paper's pages and ignored. But it is worse than that, because it is not just the Murdoch press that is guilty of this. The fact is that much of the print press in this country is entirely partisan and always has been. All proprietors and editors are part of the "great game". The trick is to ally yourself with the winner and win influence or at least the ear of the prime minister.

The consequence of this has been that the middle party has been ignored, simply because it was assumed it would never win power. After all, why court a powerless party?


We are in a time of change. Clegg has done well so far and the British public is in the mood to punish both major parties for a wide variety of transgressions which have lost them public trust and confidence. Both major parties recognise this and they are publicly wetting themselves: every statement that is supposed to reassure the public and dent the rising reputation of the Lib Dems, and Nick Clegg in particular, reeks of fear, desperation and scaremongering. The tone oscillates between lecturing the public about the dangers of a hung parliament and dismissing the Lib Dems as a credible potential government. The public are in a dangerous mood though, and that mood is not one which will accept lectures which are themselves becoming increasingly counter productive. If Glegg does well in Thursday's televised debate, the band-waggon may be unstoppable.

Mark my words: it'll be media slurs and smears next. And who do we think will own those media outlets? You got it!

The two major parties talk about change but the change they offer is within a traditionally two party system, so are not actually offering much change at all. Clegg offers the prospect of real change to an angry electorate that is about as disengaged from the political process and the legacy of two part politics as it is possible to be but who are increasingly being roused from that torpor by the energising discussions on the third party and its leader that the media has conspired to marginalise. What few are saying, but what everyone knows is that Labour and Conservative alike are terrified of Clegg in power, or wielding significant influence in a coalition, because a long-standing policy of the Lib Dems is electoral reform and the replacement of our first-past-the-post system with proportional representation. This would, indeed, change the face of British politics in the long term and might well keep the Conservatives out of government again.

Could this be the start of a very British political revolution?

Well, the icing on the cake would be two fingers up to Murdoch. How delicious!