In writing this, it is not my aim to rally support for a particular cause, party or perhaps more predictably within our community, a certain political figure. Rather, to reinvigorate the debate regarding ‘the media’ and its driving force as an increasingly important interlocutor between political representatives and the electorate. Indeed, within our community, we must realise that every time we are given the opportunity to write something online, we in ourselves become a significant part of the wider process of knowledge dissemination. Case in point, the previous post reported on an event that members were invited to, namely ‘Grime4Corbyn’. Whilst Tayler, at the end of his article, wrote a similar disclaimer to the one which opened this one, the coverage of the event, for a number of readers will have had the natural propensity to reinforce the support for Corbyn, to which it would be fair to say the majority of vocal members of the group hold a mild, if not strong allegiance. In stating this fact, it is not the authors intention to criticise this, to the contrary, it makes perfect and meaningful sense for a community platform largely based around urban culture, to attend an event for a prospective candidate directly responding to what are perceived to be the greatest and most pressing issues. The event’s attendance and subsequent coverage, (whilst covered in what can be described as faa neutral through the provision of information rather than endorsement) provides the perfect starting point to instigate a fresh discussion regarding media for our generation.
‘The Media is Against Corbyn’
This week, Corbyn is on the front of the NME, twenty years after Tony Blair graced its front page. He’s also on the front page of Kerrang. Both magazines have made a direct appeal to their readers, based on careful demographic calculation and have done so with commendable justification.The current Labour leader has surged in the polls, and whilst this is in great part credit to whoever has looked after his PR over the past few weeks, aspects of media, particularly social, has also given fresh impetus to a campaign which at first risked the very future of the party. It is thus a pet hate of mine, for an observer to refer to the British media in its entirety as a singular entity, and over the course of the campaign, particularly in its infant stages ‘the media is against Corbyn’ was bandied around on social media like machine gun fire. Whilst it would be stubborn to ignore that for a large period of time, it was obvious, even for the most of ardent critics of the Labour leader to recognise that in the earlier weeks of the campaign he was given a rough deal by certain aspects of media, considered mainstream, with the usually slyly leftist BBC a case in point, has much really changed since 2015 with Labour under Milliband? Has much really changed since ‘if Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights? Suspects such as the Mail and the Sun have been pandering to the Little Englander with great gusto and hit the Labour Party hard in the process for sure, but this is as they did in 2015. The Mirror, the Guardian consistent with their support for the Labour party have been rifling out anti-Conservative articles at a fair rate of knots. The Independent, previously supporting a second term of a ConLib coalition government, has interestingly become the darling of the copy and paste keyboard warrior new millennial Corbynite politico with little grasp of realism or ability to weigh up the key issues with any balance, just as the Express remains the cornerstone of the Facebook wall of the stereotypical white, middle-class wealthy country self-termed ‘chap’, who rather than employ any sense of personal cognition or moral compass retains a blind deference to whichever rightist figure at the time takes their fancy. Yet the general positions of these papers, whilst blatantly an important method of persuasion to the average voter, in my opinion only reflects half the story. To state that the entire ‘media’ is against a certain faction is not only lazy, but wrong, for the media is not a monolithic entity. Many prominent figures use a wide range of media sources to get their views out. A number of academics, journalists, politicians and influential figures will for example write for the Times Red Box on the Sunday, and publish an article in the Guardian on Tuesday. Granted, there are certain papers that spew nothing but sycophantic and one-sided drivel on the regular but, on balance, they are the exception to the rule.
My contention lies with the worrying amount of young people who fail to recognize or even acknowledge ‘the other side of the argument’. It would be fair to say that the majority of young people are influenced by what they read online, not just in a political sense, but across a wide variety of issues. Isolated to politics perhaps, is the concept of the ‘echo chamber’, it is a concept where an individual is more likely to view articles and posts to which he or she agrees with, firstly as a result of a natural propensity to be friends with, or to follow individuals sharing a similar political view to oneself, and secondly as a result of algorithms on various sites which prompt material of a similar type to which you have previously engaged with. It has the potential to solidify an individual’s opinions whilst similarly disregarding the possibility of a conflicting opinion to which their may be reasoned and sound justification from a fresh and, in some cases completely different standpoint.
Registering to vote and then acting upon this on polling day is all well and good, but to vote, solely as a result of absorbing one side of the argument is a danger to our generation’s collective political astuteness, just as the previous generation’s was that of blind partisanship. The aim of this article is to get you to read the other side of the argument. If you’re left leaning, read something from the right. Debate it, discuss it, find its flaws in accordance with the principles upon which you will exercise your democratic choice through voting on Thursday. If you’re right leaning, read something from the left. Debate it, discuss it, find its flaws in accordance with the principles upon which you will exercise your democratic choice through voting on Thursday. The information, will however, not be presented to you on a silver platter, the onus is upon you to go out, find the information, digest it, and form your own opinion. Rather than mindlessly repost something your friend or ideological influencer has posted, formulate an opinion on it from the ground up. If you ultimately come to the same conclusion as the individual in question after taking into account both sides of the argument then that merely serves to reinforce your beliefs and give you greater impetus in supporting what you believe in.
Last week’s copy of The Economist was the first major publication to endorse the Liberal Democrats, justifying its decision, broadly as a solution to plugging the gap of Britain’s missing political middle. Whilst I think it makes a valid point, it also misses the context in which the general election is taking place. The United Kingdom is at a crossroads, that, is a fact which is undeniable. The general election has effectively acted as a continuum of the debate instigated by the referendum of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. The context of the election has unearthed unbridled division across a number of cleavages, which will ultimately decide the outcome of this election. A large portion of the electorate wants change. It is natural to want change for the better, with the two main motivations arguably being for personal and collective national gain.To paint it as a debate between ‘left and right’ or by natural hyperbolic and quite frankly banal extension of some ‘good versus evil’ spectrum as some naive commentators have done, is not only petulant but a disservice to the genuine concerns and sentiments of fellow members of the electorate.The policy preferences of different generations will naturally highlight division. Brexit is obviously, and quite rightly at the heart of the debate. Taxation, both personal and to a greater degree corporation is also. National security, immigration and integration more recently have come to the fore, and outlets of the media pointing out the flaws of both primary parties are right to provide the initial information, irregardless of its mitigated transparency or ‘spin’ to an electorate that may previously have been unaware. You will, and should expect to come into contact with people whose views differ from yours, but to dismiss their opinions without discourse remains, and will for the foreseeable future remain unproductive. Repeating that you should ‘vote for the policies that reflect your needs’ is another cliche, but it is obviously vitally important. Whilst often frustrating, particularly for young people in a nation where the population is ageing, representative government maintains a one person, one vote principle, and whilst altruism is perfectly valiant concept, it is a natural human reaction to be self-serving to a large degree. It is an oft-quoted adage from a despondent member of the electorate that ‘all politicians are the same’ and that ‘my vote won’t count for anything’.
Now more than at any other point in recent memory can these points be challenged with gusto, and the ability to vote, something which none of us should take for granted, brings with it a personal and wider responsibility to make a decision based on taking in all views and ultimately, making a decision that is right for yourself. What we should also remember is that, rather than discount the views of others, take them into account, debate them and if possible, support your argument which conflicts with theirs with evidence that is based from your own use of primary source investigation.
On Brexit and European Affairs;
On International and Domestic Affairs;
On Economic Affairs;
Right-Leaning Think Tanks/Publications;
Left-Leaning Think Tanks/Publications;