The prelude to the UK general elections has revealed more than just the power of articulation and debating skills of the top leaders of the three political parties. Among other things it has also revealed the strange political strategies of the British media and some of these are unexplainable. One of these strategies includes defamation and there are other strategies such as data manipulation, exaggeration and fabrication of facts and highlighting the negative reactions to campaigns.
The Sun newspaper has switched sides from Labour to Conservative last year and its highly hyped YouGov poll consistently showed a Conservative win or tie after each debate session. This is definitely manipulated data and statistics as Nick Clegg gave his best performance in the first debate and clearly won according to all other polls.
Gordon Brown showed a lot of substance and consistency in the second debate but Sun continued to project David Cameron as the winner of all these debates thus trying to negatively influence mass psychology and to weaken the motivation of Liberal Democrats and Labour party leaders and supporters. The Independent newspaper published a story on the 23rd April that the Sun has manipulated the YouGov poll to suppress findings that the Lib Dems could have a significant lead of up to 49% of all votes.
This manipulation and suppression of data was just one of the strategies. As soon as Nick Clegg started getting popular after his TV appearance, several right wing British newspapers tried to attack him, his writings in the past. This digging the past strategy was adopted by some newspapers including the Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, all of these sympathetic to Cameron’s party.
The Daily Telegraph reported ahead of the second TV debate that money was paid regularly into Clegg’s personal bank account. This accusation was cleared by Clegg and his supporters. The Daily Mail commented on an article Clegg wrote in 2002 about Anglo-German relations. The first TV debate made Lib Dem an option for the voters, something which was not too obvious before the debates and the defamation agenda against Clegg didn’t do much to reverse this situation. There was another story published by the Sun doing the rounds and that Nick Clegg’s dossier was supposedly found in a cab and this dossier instructed him to imitate Cameron in the debates. In what seems right now, this was another fabricated ‘evidence’ and a fabricated story published by the Sun.
The Conservatives were accused of almost pressurizing the British press, an allegation they denied. However an attack on Nick Clegg was not the end of the story. Times Online and the Telegraph suddenly came up with a report and video on Gordon Brown just before the third debate (just as Clegg was attacked ahead of the second) that shows him caught unguarded while the microphone was still on, calling a Labour supporter ‘bigoted woman’ for questioning about immigrants from Eastern Europe.
The bigotgate as Gordon Brown’s gaffe is now called, caught the media’s fancy, and all right wing press pumped it up and exaggerated the story to make it seem like an important, almost central issue in the campaigning process. It is almost hilarious the way the British media waited for an opportunity even if the slightest opportunity to launch attacks on Brown and Clegg and demanded that these attacks were backed with ‘evidence’.
The media bias and the clear demarcation of the right wing and left wing press, left British people questioning the objectives standards of the media.
At this stage the British media seem to be turning against Labour in general and most newspapers are supporting either Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives. Yet public support could still be with Labour as Gordon Brown is seen as a consistent, experienced and honest leader. Maybe some polls have given Cameron a lead, yet the prediction of the polls may not reflect in the actual election results.
In many cases, election results turn out to be completely different from what poll predictions. Although a hung parliament is now more than expected, only the results will say to what extent the British media have been successful in manipulating and influencing the British public and to what extent media attacks on Brown or Clegg have mattered in the final countdown.