Last month I recorded my second face-to-face interview, this time with Steve Rotheram who has been the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton since 2010. Mr Rotheram gained the biggest majority at the 2015 election with 81.3% of the total vote and is also the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Jeremy Corbyn. In this interview we spoke about the EU referendum, Jeremy Hunt’s handling of the NHS, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Merseyside Football and lots more.
We need to stop the media having so much influence and potential power in our politics. At the 2015 General Election it was quite clear which party most of the newspapers preferred. The press is supposed to be fair, equal and balanced. If there is a disproportional amount of newspapers supporting a certain party then how can we call this fair and balanced?
I set out to investigate the statistics surrounding national newspapers and endorsements. Of the twelve national daily newspapers, six endorsed the Conservatives, three endorsed Labour, and the Lib Dems, UKIP and Workers’ Revolutionary Party gained one endorsement each. So 50% of the national daily newspapers endorsed the Conservatives whilst 25% endorsed Labour. This is hugely disproportional if we take this into account. This also shows a lack of diversity in our press if three quarters of all the daily newspapers backed the two main parties.
However it could be argued that the daily national newspapers have no real effect in terms of seats won since the SNP had no endorsements and still gained 56 seats. However of the eight Scottish newspapers, four of them endorsed the SNP. This still shows that there is inequality in the press. People keep getting fed the same ideas and beliefs. People don’t always see every side of the argument and because of this the outcome of our election is pretty much decided by whoever Rupert Murdoch decides to back.
A lot of the time the press don’t even focus on who has the best policies and prefer to focus on who looks the best whilst eating a bacon sandwich. As Ed Miliband said “If you want this to be a beauty contest or a photo opp contest then I’m not going to win it.” People may laugh at this, but is our politics slowly turning into a beauty contest? How can it be fair that the winner of our general election is basically decided by the media and how they present the party leaders? The media should focus on policies and issues so the electorate can decide who they want to vote for themselves without newspapers making that choice for them. The tabloids seem to believe that their readers are not intelligent enough to make a decision on which party to support by reading policies and instead decide to show them a photo of the party leader to base their choice on instead (The Sun disrespectfully use language so basic that a seven year old could read it and understand it.) It is laughable that people will vote for a politician based on their appearance without knowing any of their policies.
The Sun – for some reason – is the most read paper in Britain. This is a frightening fact when some of the front pages of The Sun are taken into consideration. After the tragic Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 96 innocent Liverpool fans lost their lives, The Sun claimed on their front page that “some fans picked pockets of victims, some fans urinated on the brave cops and some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.” Now it has been proven how wrong they were. We should never immediately believe whatever the media tells us. The media (particularly papers like The Sun and The Daily Mail) like to use scaremongering and print highly controversial stories on their front page in order to sell copies and gain more money. It is disgusting and thoroughly wrong that newspapers should be allowed to publish any information that is highly false, although it is unlikely that this will ever become a rule or law because the newspapers will claim that they are using their right to “freedom of press and freedom of speech.” I’m a strong supporter of these two things, but printing stories that are extremely false and inaccurate to a mass audience which can end up ruining lives is not a use of freedom of press/speech.
My argument is that the newspapers should allow their readers to make intelligent decisions about which party to support based on facts rather than photographs. I would strongly like to see the press regulated to prevent publication of false or inaccurate stories or headlines- papers should receive a heavy fine or suspension for printing another “Hillsborough- The Truth” type of article. I would like to see more newspapers supporting smaller parties such as The Green Party so we can gain a more balanced representation of UK politics. Finally, readers should become much more aware that not everything that is published in newspapers is true, and to not let a certain paper’s opinion of a politician or party directly affect their own view of them.