In a well argued letter to the Guardian published on 12 June, Professor James Curran who writes and lectures on media history and policy, declared that: “… the reign of the tabloids is over. For weeks, the ancient bazookas controlled by Murdoch and Dacre and other press oligarchs were trained on Corbyn and McDonnell, portraying them as patrons of terror and fantasists forever shaking a magic money tree. The Campaign failed because the English Press is more distrusted than any other in Europe, its circulation is in free-fall and young people in particular get their news and political information from the internet…”
This week the two main parties published their election manifestos. Labour’s, which is set out below, is tighter than the leak from the previous week, and represents a good basis to build on. The Conservatives, on the other hand have thrown the press owners a life line by pledging to scrap part 2 of Leveson and repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which would give victims of press abuse access to affordable justice. It also provides that in the event a ‘relevant publisher’ (i.e., a provider of general news in print) is sued, and that publisher has chosen not to register with an ‘approved regulator’ (i.e one that is Leveson compliant), that publisher will be required to pay a claimant’s costs even if the publisher wins in court. The provision was recommended by Leveson and supported by Parliament in 2013, but would only come into force once an approved regulator was set up (as IMPRESS was last autumn (see my blog “After all this time…” 27 October 2016).
It was a narrow victory and one which will not please President Erdogan ,who was hoping for a decisive one. Instead he won by a whisker with an estimated 51.4% of the vote, despite controlling the media and conducting the ‘Yes’ campaign under a state of emergency, (extended for a further three months on 17 April) which limited the ability of opponents to openly campaign for a ‘No’ vote and meant that essential fundamental campaigning freedoms were denied.