The current narrative is “We live in a very divided Britain.” The truth is: it is all part of a strategy where media, politicians and social media combined their efforts to create a smoke-screen to cover their hidden agenda on Brexit, Windrush, immigration, money and power...
First published in July 2019.
I. DIVIDE ET IMPERA.
There is a common principle in politics called “divide et impera” (Latin for ‘divide and rule’). The principle was penned by Italian satirist and political writer Traiano Boccalini in the 16th century.
In an essay “La bilancia politica di tutte le opere”, Traiano explained that this principle aims to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who COLLECTIVELY might be able to oppose his rule.
How is this being implemented today?
II. CELEBRITY POLITICS.
Anger, outrage and hate have been fed to TV audiences for at least two decades on everyday telly, with reality programmes such as Jeremy Kyle Show or Big Brother where anger at ‘the other’, envy, selfishness, shouting and personal (sometimes racist) attacks were made more acceptable with time.
Take programmes like Celebrity Big Brother, I’m a celebrity... or Strictly come dancing. They just turned politicians into absolute clowns. (Although, one might argue that some of them were already clowns before appearing on those shows!)
Who needs experts when you see them ‘naked’ (desecrated) on TV? Remember the time George Galloway mimed licking imaginary milk, whilst pretending to be a cat on Celebrity Big Brother? Or most recently, former leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale agreeing to be a I’m a celebrity... contestant?
Remember the defence secretary Penny Mordaunt’s belly-flop on Splash! back in 2014?
Splash! / ITV
Some people will argue that it is ‘no big deal’, that it helps them to raise their profile, make some money, maybe even raise money for charities and that we should make abstraction of their TV appearances in such programmes.
And then, there was the issues of anger, hate and racism too. Remember Jade Goody’s Big Brother race row, back in 2007?
Watching Big Brother – whether with or without celebrities – was not for the faint-hearted.
How would you feel seeing your Oncologist on Monday morning to talk about Cancer treatment, knowing you just saw him being evicted from Big Brother or Love Island last week after having jumped drunk and naked in the swimming pool, and being racist or abusive towards other contestants or eating and vomiting fermented eggs live on air, for two weeks?
Would you feel weird talking to him? Or would you be able to make total abstraction of what he did and said in Love Island, and just trust his words on the most serious of issues? What doctors do or say in their private lives is, by essence, private... and not meant to be shared with everyone, especially not their patients. It is all a question of professionalism and credibility.
Love Island, 2019. / ITV
The same applies to politicians. How can you take them seriously and trust their judgement on how to govern the country and lead the country on Education, the NHS or Brexit, if what they offer us to see is them being ridiculed or acting like fools on TV?
Sadly, politics shows like BBC Question Time made it ‘acceptable’ over the years to shout at politicians, government figures and whoever else appears on their panel, whether from the Left or the Right, be they right or wrong.
Acceptable too is the throwing of stats and facts without any journalist (not even David Dimbleby then, nor Fiona Bruce nowadays) fact-checking audience members’ or the panel’s claims and point out lies and misleading affirmations.
As for the panel itself, over the years at the helm of Question Time, David Dimbleby certainly enjoyed inviting the most controversial people available at the time of recording... Why? Because Question Time is not (and never was) a political programme made to inform the public, but a political show made for entertainment. And it still is. How many times has Nigel Farage been a guest again? He has actually appeared 33 times on BBCQT since his very first appearance in November 2000!
Let’s not even talk about the BBC’s This Week and Daily Politics whose host, right-wing anti-EU Andrew Neil, has over the years also been feeding his audience with anti-European rhetoric together with Thatcher admirer and fellow eurosceptic Michael Portillo, without anyone fact-checking their claims.
Never mind his qualities as one of the greatest, fact-checking, cross-examining, no-nonsense interviewers in the UK whether during General Elections campaigns or party leadership contests (eg. his brilliant interview of Boris Johnson on 12 July 2019).
But this is the same Andrew Neil who, in a lecture at the Institute of Economic Affairs, in November 2005, called for “a reorientation of British foreign policy away from Europe... a radical programme to liberalise the British economy... a radical reduction in tax and public spending as a share of the economy... a flat tax... the injection of choice and competition into the public sector on a scale not yet contemplated... excellence in schools with vouchers for all”...
Sounds incredibly hard-Brexit style to me, doesn’t it?
The very Andrew Neil who didn’t hesitate to attend events, in April last year, organised by a far-right Hungarian government-funded consultancy firm at the Hungarian Embassy.
But we digress...
The British telly (not just the BBC, but the corporation is certainly in big part responsible), by offering them a platform, has considerably helped populist and extremist politicians to open as wide as possible Britain’s Pandora’s box.
When he once asked the question ‘How do you solve a problem like extremism in Britain?’ the BBC journalist Andrew Marr simply killed two birds with one stone to answer the question himself by inviting both the hard-right populist Nigel Farage and the Victorian Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg on his show, and ask their opinion!
As writer Matt Haig rightly commented: “Here is how you deal with the far-right: you report on them the way you would report on cancer. You invite an expert on them to talk about them as a problem. You don’t talk to the tumour itself.”
When Andrew Marr recently invited Nigel Farage to finally ask him questions any worthy journalist would love to ask the former Ukip leader on his political views and his new party’s manifesto to show the absolute irrelevance of the far-right politician in today’s politics, to make him face his lies and demonstrate his hypocrisy to the audience, the BBC journalist made a joke of the interview.
Marr indeed asked questions he knew Farage would not answer to and offered him an occasion to claim the BBC was not interested in the real issues... the perfect interview for Farage, in fact. Giving him ammunitions against the BBC.
Wait for Farage to talk of ‘the biased BBC’, ‘the BBC, ennemi of the people’ and other ‘Fake news BBC’... (Trumpesque!)
Obviously, Farage was not long to make his usual anti-BBC propaganda, thanks to the Telegraph. Basically writing something in the lines of “Andrew Marr is a bad journalist who asked me the questions he should not ask me. I should only be asked questions I want to answer to. And anyway, the BBC is an evil fake news media paid by the EU.”
Echoeing Donald Trump in the United States, he also told the PoliticsHome website: “The BBC are now the enemy.”
Andrew Marr only has himself to blame for providing the far-right politician with the stick to beat him with.
There are other arguments to show how the corporation definitely failed to protect the integrity of its reporting and interviews, especially after Brexit. It would take another article to explain them all. Both Remain and Leave supporters have already called the BBC biased, with more or less fair arguments.
Professor Chris Grey has done a great job explaining some of those arguments in an earlier PMP Magazine article.
And then there is the very close relationships (friendship!) between some politicians and some TV presenters that should not be ignored, especially when they provide them with a platform to spread their filthy rethoric and fulfill their nasty agenda. The most recent example of this is Nigel Farage having some good time watching the Cricket World Cup together with former fake-news Editor of the Mirror and controversial GMB co-presenter Piers Morgan...
III. PRESS BULLIES.
Anger, outrage and hate have also been fed to readers of right-wing tabloids: Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Sun and The Telegraph... The same anger, outrage and hate bleeding through shock headlines “Enemies of people”, “Saboteurs”, “Brexit Mutineers”, “Loaded foreign elite defy will of Brit voters”, “Migrants: How many more can we take?”... because of other people’s difference, way of life, religion or opinion.
Anger/hate-filled columns written by fact-lazy, ignorant-at-best, right-wing journalists like Sarah Vine, Andrew Pierce, Tim Montgomerie, Isabel Oakeshott or Boris Johnson (yes, he used to be a journalist before risking the life of a Briton in Iran with shameful comments no other Foreign Secretary would have ever made or before becoming Prime Minister!)... with the full blessing of the likes of self-styled ‘patriotic’, Victorian-time admirers and Empire nostalgics, editors Kelvin MacKenzie (ex-The Sun), Tony Gallagher (The Sun) Paul Dacre (former-Daily Mail) and their ‘patriotic’ tax-avoiding multimillionaire owners Ruppert Murdoch (The Sun), Jonathan Harmsworth (Daily Mail), Richard Desmond (former-Express) and the Barclay brothers (Telegraph and The Spectator).
And who dares go against their opinions ends up being called ‘biased’. As Steven Barnett, professor of communications at Westminster University, explained a few years ago, allegations of a ‘leftist’ or ‘liberal’ bias (or even a ‘remoaner’ bias) are no more than a concerted attempt by ultra-conservative and right-wing individuals and organisations to “discredit any journalism with which they disagree and to promote a political agenda which is more consistent with their own.”
Dare pointing out that the Tories’ widespread Islamophobia is equivalent to the Labour’s Antisemitism problem and you end up being told you are trying to ‘shut down the debate’, and that it is only a ‘fiction’ to drift away from the real issues. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are two very real issues of the day, and are both absolutely repugnant.
Dare pointing out the Brexiters’ inaccuracies, their lies, their real intentions and their real agenda, and you end up being branded a “smug, sanctimonious, condescending, obsessively politically-correct, champagne-socialist public schoolboy Remoaners.” Ask LBC host and journalist James O’Brien, the man whose unfortunate habit is to prefer facts to lies.
James O’Brien, the man whose unfortunate habit is to prefer facts to lies. / LBC
And whatever the consequences for the very individuals who get vilified by this type of utterly despicable and shameful Press, because this is ‘the will of the people’ after all — even if it means that they receive insults, violence and death threats on a daily basis...
They can simply call their opponents ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘traitor’, and thus dismiss their voice as an opposition. It is a simple, yet very effective way to attack their credential and make sure the general public too totally dismisses their ideas and rules them out of the political debate.
Even if it means that one contradicts oneself over time... Traitors are traitors. Right? Or are they only traitors when it suits one’s hidden agenda?
Remember the Lords?
Daily Mail 1988 (left) and 2018 (right).
“Lords reform is an utterly irrelevant distraction from the urgent business of government [...] as a revising chamber and a check on the executive, it nonetheless works fairly well — whichever party is in power.” (Daily Mail, 2012)
Daily Mail 2012.
IV. RADIO GAGA?
Anger, outrage and hate have been fed to the listeners of talk radio shows presented by some of the most controversial radio hosts in Britain, especially on Global’s provocation-thirsty and audience-fetching LBC, a radio station that once asked its followers on Twitter: “Should we give far-right groups a platform in order to expose them or is it inherently dangerous?”
A platform LBC happily offered to people as controversial as Katie Hopkins (who used her LBC show to increase her popularity and perfect her extremist agenda before getting the sack over her appalling comments and now supporting UKIP and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) or Nigel Farage (a serial liar who is still allowed to perform daily on LBC). For months before and after the 2016 EU referendum, they both have turned some LBC callers into angry activists and fanatics alike.
Katie Hopkins / LBC
Nick Ferrari (undoubtedly one of the most right-wing, anti-EU and controversial radio presenters currently on Britain’s radio waves) also invited Nigel Farage regularly for at least two years before the EU Referendum, helping him raise his profile and spread his anti-European stance on LBC.
As if getting Nigel Farage on the path to claim both Brexit and Trump’s victories was not enough, Nick Ferrari and LBC have recently undertaken the task to make Jacob Rees-Mogg their new apprentice with a radio phone-in during Ferrari’s own breakfast show.
One example of how Rees-Mogg uses his new phone-in show to become more popular with the ‘masses’, yet showing once again how out of touch with reality he is: he claimed that he was “once the subject of a police stop-and-search on Pall Mall.” The MP for North East Somerset explained: “They used these powers to stop me when I was driving a couple of my children along Pall Mall. I was hauled into Waterloo Place. When they saw the boot piled full of children’s clothes etc., they rather recoiled and went away. It was because I was in Pall Mall, close to where my mother lives and at that point, they had the ability to stop anyone they felt like for anything in these specified zones around sensitive government areas.”
At no moment did Nick Ferrari challenge the real-life Victorian-time-traveller MP on the abysmal difference between his car being gently stopped by friendly Police officers in a street near Buckingham Palace and an actual real-life Police stop-and-search, which in most cases is humiliating, conducted with force and targeting a certain category of the population Rees-Mogg does not belong to.
Mind you, dear readers, Nick Ferrari is not alone. John Humphrys or Julia Hartley-Brewer are only three amongst other radio hosts who keep pushing the Leave agenda hard and who still believe Britain deserves a hard-Brexit. (even though Nick Ferrari recently said he was so fed up with it he has now given up on Brexit.)
V. GROOMING THE ELECTORATE.
Anger, outrage and hate have been fed to voters before, during and after the last two general elections and the EU referendum with shocking posters and slogans, aiming at creating fully ‘devoted’ militants.
Leave.EU’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster proudly launched by Nigel Farage.
“Jacob [Rees-Mogg] says he thinks that poster won the referendum because it dominated the debate for the last few days. The establishment hated it, the posh boys at Vote Leave hated it, but it was the right thing to do. Now, I don’t think we’d have won the referendum without Mrs Merkel. But that poster reminded people what Mrs Merkel had done.” Farage explained to the New Statesman’s Editor Jason Cowley.
In the same article, Cowley writes that “Farage, who now has his own talk radio show on LBC, is widely despised — not least because of his antics during the referendum campaign and his post-Brexit embrace of alt-right movements in America and Europe. He is despised not only by liberals and Remainers: mainstream Conservatives and many prominent Brexiteers, such as the MEP Daniel Hannan, are appalled by him and his closest associates at Leave.EU.”
Nigel Farage does not have any answer.
He simply does not.
It is not his job to have any answer anyway. His job is to remind people of their pityful lives, to talk to voters about problems, to blame others for what they do or do not do, to criticise other politicians for their decision or they speeches, to ridicule government and parliament calling them all the “Establishment” irrespective of their political side.
Sometimes, however, the tables turn on him...
And you know the saying... “Out of the mouths of babes comes truth or wisdom.”
3 March 2017, RT.
The shocking posters and slogans were easily echoed by some of the UK Press with years of a process to brainwash the masses through a ‘shock-headlines’ cultural programming that made it ‘acceptable’ to talk down, and demand action of a prime minister or a government, as if the papers themselves were an absolute mirror of ‘the will of the people’... and not in any way the will of their absolute unpatriotic, unelected and elitist tax-avoiding press barons.
Some of the UK Press’ anti-immigration propaganda.
Grooming the electorate to grow the British society more and more selfish. People voted Brexit because they wanted to keep Britain for Brits, they didn’t want to pay any more money to the EU, they didn’t want migrants to settle in Britain...
We recently found the same selfish attitude as regard to Climate Change. “The majority of Britons are unwilling to significantly reduce the amount they drive, fly and eat meat in order to combat climate change,” a Sky Data poll revealed in May 2019.
Some 56% of people said they are unwilling to fly significantly less, 52% of people would not be willing to eat significantly less meat and 56% say they would be unwilling to drive significantly less to protect the environment.
Grooming the electorate can also lead to very controversial thinking. For instance, a YouGov-Cambridge Globalism survey released on 2 May 2019 showed that 40% of Leavers feel that to be ‘truly’ British, it is very important that both of your parents are born in the UK.
(Note that, according to this logic, Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Lord Andrew Adonis, Lenny Henry, David Baddiel, Geri Halliwell, Daniel Hannan, Winston Churchill are/were not British...)
VI. THE ‘Wealthy-Anger-Lobby’ RULE.
This is not something limited to Brexit. It includes the Conservative Government’s general policy.
Why would any government under-fund the NHS, underpay doctors, deny foreign doctors entry and let patients wait for up to four hours or more in hospitals, to the point when people actually die in hospital corridors before being seen by a doctor?
Three reasons for that:
1. Because the wealthy in the Society do not want their taxes to fund a service they barely or never use, and therefore pay for those who cannot afford private healthcare;
2. To get the general public angry at the service they get from the NHS and make them realise that private healthcare is a necessity;
3. To gradually turn the country away from offering free NHS healthcare to offering more and more private healthcare, and benefit the private medical lobby.
Nigel Farage on going from NHS to private healthcare.
Why would any government cut Police forces and let the crime rates and the number of shooting and knife incidents rise in the Capital and elsewhere, whilst blaming the rise on criminal gangs or on poor mayorship? To get the general public angry at the Police, the other party’s Mayor or local councils, and make people realise that private policing is a necessity.
Apply this very ‘Wealthy-Anger-Lobby’ rule again and again for anything from firefighters, prison services, schools, immigration, transports, etc.
Basically, the wealthy don’t want to pay taxes, people get angry at the poor quality public services they get, the government first cuts the public services and eventually replace them by private companies.
Thus, ending up creating another type of Hostile Environment where the general public gets literally groomed (with the help of the right-wing Press: Daily Mail, The Sun, The Telegraph, The Times...) to believe the public sector is really bad, inefficient and useless, whereas the private sector is the ideal choice to replace it.
Divide and rule.
Voting Leave, the solution to everything...
So, voting Leave, then?
You thought you were the forgotten, the ones politicians, the establishment, the press, the government don’t care about, the ones nobody talks about, the voiceless. You thought that by voting for Britain to leave the European Union, it would all change.
They would notice that you exist. They would finally listen. They would start to pay attention to your community. That is what they said. That is what they promised. Remember the red bus and the big £350m per week for the NHS...
They fooled you. They know you can’t afford a private police to watch over your neighbourhood. They know you can’t pay a private health insurance and must stay for hours in hospitals before being seen by a nurse or a doctor, or wait for months to get your treatment or to book a surgery. They know you can’t pay for a private education for your children.
They know it and they don’t care. They don’t want to pay for you. They don’t want to pay taxes that will benefit you, not them. To them, you deserve the leftovers of the Society, whatever is left of your once precious public services after their taxes are discounted.
Leaving the EU doesn’t bother the people who told you that Global Britain was the solution. They have the money to cope with it. They have the means to cope with the hardest of Brexits. Do you? Can you?
Leaving the EU will not change anything to them. It will change everything for you.
They dream of a world where the wealthiest in the country would not pay taxes any longer and where each one would pay their own dues, not pay for the good of the entire community. A dream for them. A nightmare for you. Open your eyes because it’s already here.
Why bother being a European, anyway?
The end of Freedom of Movement was never just designed to stop European citizens from coming to the UK as it has been hammered during the 2016 EU referendum and ever since... It was also designed to stop you and your children, British citizens, little islanders, from leaving the British Isles and having a chance to discover Europe and discover other cultures, other languages, other people. The more open to the world out there and understanding to others and their differences you become, the more opposed to their right-wing racist agenda you would be.
Brexiters believe you don’t need all that. “Travelling abroad has become a hugely unpleasant ordeal, so staying in the UK has become much more palatable...” You will be so much better in little Britannia, in your neighbourhood with other English speakers. Brexit is effectively a type of self-inflicted reclusion from the world.
And for the few who might still somehow manage to travel abroad, then English-speaking countries from the Commonwealth maybe the right place to spend a gap year, or even further, why not trying “the Far-East or walking the Andies”, according to your friendly Global Britain travel agent, Nigel Farage.
Townhall Live with UKIP leader Nigel Farage, 10 June 2016. (Buzzfeed UK)
Remember the text written by Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor during Nazi Germany.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
— Martin Niemöller.
Niemöller perfectly described the dangers of political apathy, the dangers of blind followership, the dangers of community divisions in society.
Sadly, these dangers are not stuck in a time where people did not have a choice but absorb what their political leaders were feeding them with. Today, with the wide use of the internet, one would expect people to have a sharper eye for misleading statements and lies.
In the current Internet era, fact-checking politicians should be easier than ever. Yet, people elect populist and extremists like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet people vote for the UK to leave the European Union.
Niemöller’s quote is therefore more accurate today than ever.
1943. / NowThis
After telling older voters they ought to vote for Brexit because it was the right way forward, regardless what the consequences would be for the younger generation — and indeed older voters massively voted for Brexit in 2016, politicians are now considering turning the table on older voters too and tell the society that it is time, as Karl W. Smith put it very bluntly in his Bloomberg article, to “Soak the Boomers to Save Capitalism”.
In the UK, the parliament’s Committee on Intergenerational Fairness thus wrote a report that states that “outdated” age-specific benefits for older people should be replaced with support for the young to “deliver a fairer society”. Meaning: the end of the triple lock for pensions, the end of free TV licences based on age, the limiting of free bus passes for the over-65s and the limiting of winter fuel payments until five years after retirement age.
They blamed the foreigners, they blamed the refugees, they blamed the poor, they blamed the Muslims, they blamed the students, they blamed the junior doctors, they blamed the European Union, they now blame the older generation. Who’s next?
First they blamed the foreigners, the refugees, the poor, the Muslims, but you were not a foreigner, a refugee, a poor or a Muslim...
Then they blamed the students, the junior doctors, the civil servants, but you were not a student, a junior doctor or a civil servant...
Then they blamed the European Union and the European nationals, but you were not a European national...
Then one day they will blame you, but who will speak for you?
Whichever category or community you belong to, they fooled you to blame others. They will fool others to blame you next.
They fooled you with Brexit. You know they did.
But there is no shame in having fallen for the lies. There is no shame in having believed the promises of more money for the NHS or more jobs. There is no shame in trusting the politicians who sold you unicorns in Care Bears land as Brexit. As long as you understand that they fooled you, and lied to you, you have made a first step towards the truth.
VII. THE ‘WILL OF THE PEOPLE’.
There are now many Leave voters out there who changed their minds after listening to James O’Brien on the radio, checking Boris Johnson’s claims online, chatting on social media with Remainers, watching videos, meeting people, reading about facts and getting more information about how Britain benefits from being a member of the EU vs whatever lies the Leave side told them during the 2016 Referendum campaign and still do.
There is no problem with changing one’s mind. It is actually courageous to realise you made a mistake and admit it. And contrary to what some people would like to make us believe, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
We normally have elections every 5 years in this country (sometimes before that, eg. the 2017 General Election) and every 5 years we get to choose our MPs, and therefore our PM. We can vote Labour this time and vote Tory next time. It is OK to change our minds.
Do not let those angry voices who feel that Brexit is now slipping away tell you that you cannot change your mind. Nobody will tell you that today’s Prime Minister must remain Prime Minister to the end of times because it is ‘the will of the people’, a turn of phrase undoubtedly more suited to demagogues than democrats.
In the US too they have what they call ‘regretful’ voters, who voted for Trump in 2016 but now understand it was a big mistake.
Let’s talk about opinion polls. Everyone, or nearly everyone, agrees that they reflect the ‘will of the people’ at a certain moment in time. That is why politicians love them and also hate them.
President Emmanuel Macron, after being elected President of France in May 2017, had an approval rate of 66%. Since then his approval rate has gone down and jumped again and today, with the Gilets-Jaunes crisis, one of the most recent polls showed his approval rate at 29%. French people would surely find it difficult to contemplate Emmanuel Macron being their President for the next 20 years because that was the ‘will of the people’ in 2017.
The ‘will of the people’ is something that changes continuously according to crisis, incidents, political gaffes, political decisions, scandals, terrorism, wars, etc.
There is nothing undemocratic about organising a vote, whether a referendum or a general election, as long as it is organised and takes place fairly.
VIII. THE BARONS’ PROPAGANDA.
The problem, thus, is not the so-called ‘will of the people’, but rather the will of the Press barons...
When readers are bombarded with shock headlines in order to build an emotional connection with powerful words written in large bold, black and white characters — sometimes in red — on a daily basis for not just weeks or months, but years, even decades, the long-lasting result is a part of the society being literally groomed to think and vote according to the right-wing Press’ will, even if it turns out to harm them really badly.
The shock headlines have hit millions of people for so long that the readers end up feeling like they do reflect their thinking, that they do represent their opinion, that they do speak for the many not the few... when, in fact, they do not.
“Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.” — Joseph Goebbels (German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.)
An emotional connection carefully built over decades by Press barons to gain their readers’ trust and slowly render them insensitive to empathy, expertise (“who needs experts?”) and fact-checking in order to achieve their own political agenda. This is an altogether different type of abuse of power. An abuse of information power.
Unfortunately, people do get groomed online too. Through the general increase of social media use over the last few years, that very Press managed to spread their negative message like never before, reaching people beyond their usual audience. As such, the internet is a powerful emotion amplifier.
Then, of course, the emotional connection comes from great communicators, charismatic public figures who know how to build trust, how to get people to listen to their message. The Farages, the Trumps, the Le Pens, the Bolsonaros, the Johnsons...
They are dangerous not because people listen to them, but because people only hear from them what they want to hear. It has to be the perfect match to work. And sadly, when it works, it can take a long time before people start to realise they were mistaken in trusting them. The power of emotion.
Divide and rule...
A final point that must be made clear to all is that without Brexit in the UK and without Trump’s election in the United States, newspapers, magazines, online media, tv channels, journalists, political editors, authors, writers, bloggers, experts, political scientists, academics, and press barons would be out of job – reporting on the Snellings Norfolk National six-race meeting in Fakenham or the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Denbigh is not what one calls ‘selling stories’ in the industry, contrary to topics such as ‘Will Theresa May resign?’ or ‘Is the EU humiliating us?’.
Brexit, like Trump tweets, sell a lot of ink. Think about all the books published since 2016 on that very subject whether written by Remainers, Brexiters, experts, and journalists. Open the papers and magazines... Brexit. Browse TV news channels at any time of the day and, one form or another, the main topic is... Brexit. Talk radios’ near unique subject of conversation is also... Brexit. And the longer the Brexit crisis lasts, the more the media will feed their audiences with it because they (we) benefit out of it – mostly the mess as it is more dramatic and sells more!
“Blair and [Alastair] Campbell took to heart the advice of the Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, on how to deal with Murdoch: “He’s a big bad bastard, and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big bad bastard too. You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength.” Blair and his team believed they had achieved exactly that. A deal had been done, although with nothing in writing. If Murdoch were left to pursue his business interests in peace he would give Labour a fair wind.” — Lance Price.
In his book, “Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v the Media”, the former BBC reporter and former Downing Street spin Lance Price explained the special relationship between Rupert Murdoch’s News International and Tony Blair’s New Labour.
Thus, having helped to sustain Margaret Thatcher during her 11 years in power and backed John Major’s 1992 election, Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers empire supported Tony Blair in 1997, 2001 and 2004, before jumping at Blair and Brown’s throats after the Iraq war, and again supporting the Conservatives at the 2010 general election.
What may eventually stop Brexit is the potential of a growing disinterest for Brexit among the general public. Such a Brexit-fatigue, which we can already sense, would eventually lead to the British media – Murdoch’s papers in the front line, worried to miss the turning tide, digging the grave of Brexit and burying it together with the Brexit Party, Farage and the Brexiters, either in a direct second referendum or the revokation of Article 50 before a second referendum in which most papers would now support Remain.
A Brexit-fatigue such as this one, for instance:
The Europe/Brexit issue would, of course, remain buried for a couple of decades or so – until time comes again for a Farage lookalike or another populist to resurrect the political zombie of Brexit.
Divide and sell...🔷
ps. I recently came across this interesting little film from 1958, which tells the story of a conman who arrives in a small town in the United States and tells people that he can build a wall to protect them from a great danger. His name... Trump! (not kidding)
Watch now and checkout both the language used by the conman in the film to get the people’s trust and how people really hear what they want to hear from him, and don’t want to listen to the good guy’s counter-arguments until the end. It is all about the fear. It is all about the emotion.
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