A new kind of Journalism

The 20th Century marked a watershed where people began to recognise the changing nature and environment of the media. Mass media, broadcast news, and the professionalisation of journalism, were buzzwords for the media then, just as they are now.

The revolution of news on screen and radio, broadened the political minds of many, in a midst of newly found easy access to the political world, away from print news.

Media outlets slowly began to ease their political alignments shifting between the advocacy for parties, and the supply of unbiased views, in attempt to provide ‘neutral’ perspectives.

With this increased ‘professionalisation’, we saw a new kind of journalism developing.

Without compulsory training, or specific knowledge sets, journalism ‘isn’t the ideal liberal profession’, in comparison to careers such as law or medicine. However pride is, and should be placed, on a journalists’ ability to ‘impact society’ and ‘serve the public interest’. It is this new autonomy that has founded journalisms professionalisation.

So, with these developments, if we reflect again, they bring the question of whether we are seeing another ‘new kind of journalism’ in amongst this global pandemic we are facing today.

Common articles around Coronavirus have recently, and necessarily so, surrounded recent case figures, medical advice being offered, or recent demands for enquiries into countries levels of ‘preparedness’ for such a pandemic.

There are some positives in amongst this, including a new-found appreciation for keyworkers and national spirits of ‘togetherness’. There are also lots of negatives that can come from, and are found within situations such as these – those sadly lost, government performance, and public urges to panic-buy toilet roll or baking goods.

Yet this news is being bought to us in a different way, and more importantly, is the only news that is being presented to us, and has been for the last three months.

There has seemed to be a lack of attention to what we are being shown in the media. Countries have seen ‘normal’ life come to a halt, confined to life of self-isolation and lockdown, and the media has followed suit.

The media has become isolated in its news of Coronavirus, suggesting the possibility and also some truth to how global news has taken a back seat. Or that there is no global news to report – which seems harder to believe.

Furthermore, there is a sense journalists’ questions have also become constrained during what has become, the daily press conference ritual. Time and time again we see some journalists asking the same questions, most notably ‘when will lockdown end?’.

This could reflect national frustrations, or to rightly hold governments accountable, or is this because, there is not much else they can ask?

This is a new kind of journalism.

Journalism before has seen constraint from state intervention and technological drawbacks, and to some extent, still sees this on varying levels. Today, as World Wars once consumed media attention, our battle against Coronavirus takes their place.

It is up to ourselves to decide whether this ‘new’ in our new kind of journalism, be taken for the logistics of how press conferences are now being held. Or that more than ever, more media channels are receiving more airtime attention, or even how questions are being asked in these conferences, are becoming limited.

Nonetheless, these all suggest a new kind of journalism, in a time that demands the attention of one subject only, one that is continuously at the forefront of all our minds.

Written by Courtney Bridges

Sources:

Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini, ‘Comparing Media Systems: three models of media and politics’, (2004), p.13, 16.

 

 

No other way. Biden needs the Left to stop Trump.

Just less than a month ago, on March 17, two things were starting to get clear in the United States. The first of them was the sudden realization of the Trump administration regarding the coronavirus outbreak and its seriousness. By March 17, all 50 states had been hit with more than 100 dead and 6000 infected nationwide, as the BBC reported. Yet, it took all of this to happen for the leader of the nation to shift his rhetoric from “totally under control” to “I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic”. As of today, according to the Worldometer that tracks all the coronavirus cases worldwide, the situation in the United States looks grim and terrifying. More than 300,000 cases have been confirmed, with the US becoming the world’s most affected country, heavily surpassing both Spain and Italy. And, as if that was not enough, the President warned everyone that the upcoming weeks are going to be the “toughest”, and that the worst is yet to come. biden srticle 1

Graph source: Worldometer, last updated: April 05, 2020, 10:48 GMT

All of this, undeniably, leads to a simple conclusion. The United States, and the world, is in a desperate need for steady and strong leadership. And interestingly enough, this has to do with the second event that occurred on that same March 17 Tuesday last month. It was then when it was reported that Joe Biden, who definitely had a poor start in the Democratic primary battle, will win all of the three major states(Florida, Illinois, Arizona) that were at stake that night. What is more, it turned out to be a comfortable, even “easy”, according to The New York Times, victory for the former Vice President. After that night, the math was showing that that Biden had managed to secure a total of 1,217 delegates against 914 for his major opponent Senator Bernie Sanders. And while it was, and still is true, that a majority of 1,991 pledged delegates must be won in order to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, the numbers are a good indicator to illustrate that Bernie Sanders, who unquestionably embodies the Left in America, will most probably not succeed in his march to the White House.

Source: Associated Press, last updated: 3 April 2020, 00:51:26

biden article 2

More disappointing, however, will surely be the prospect that the Left idea might not succeed. Just as it was the case in 2016, the Democratic establishment turned out to be an extremely formidable enemy. This time it showed it when practically all of the centrist, moderate candidates united behind the Biden candidacy in order to turn an election that, otherwise, they would have probably lost against the Sanders base if not united behind one candidate. Endorsement after endorsement helped Joe Biden get a desperately needed boost, especially after an abysmal showing in the first caucuses and primaries. Furthermore, openly promising to pick a woman for the VP spot and securing endorsements from people like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a perceived Sanders ally, only solidified Biden’s lead. Not to mention the fact that Elizabeth Warren, another person who the logic dictated would endorse the most progressive candidate, Sanders, apparent refusal to do so, felt not only like a shocker, but more like a betrayal to the progressive base. All of this, combined with the increasing media pressure for Sanders to end his presidential campaign, has led the Senator’s team to “assess” his campaign and the potential path forward.

Of course, it is impossible not to spot the little irony behind this situation. Especially now, that the Sanders campaign is all focused on fighting and leading the charge against the coronavirus. And now that, as it was brilliantly put by New Yorker writer Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, it is the reality that has endorsed Sanders. In other words, saying that the Senator’s main policy proposals, such as Medicare for All, are more than critically needed in the current unprecedented crisis the US, and the whole world, is facing. And even though ideas like Medicare for All and tightening the enormous wealth inequality gap that currently exists in the US, seem more than reasonable, and despite Sanders still having mathematical chances of winning the nomination, the opposition he is facing will only get even more vicious from now on.

Here, however, arises the biggest problems for the Democratic establishment. Even if it finally manages to somehow stop Sanders, it will still, again ironically, need the full support of his base in order to accomplish its main objective – beating Trump in November. And it will not be unreasonable to express that the Sanders’ base has little to do with the Biden base when it comes to policy, main causes, and overall ideology and understanding of how politics should be done. Biden might represent the status quo, and the way that the Democratic Party currently operates and wants to operate, but it is Sanders who represents the future. And this future about much more than a single ideolog or a single election. It is a future In which everybody should have the same rights to healthcare, a living wage, affordable housing, and decent life. A future in which billions would be spent on education, healthcare and progress, and not on foreign policy blunders. A future in which politicians would represent and fight for the ordinary people, not for the corporations, the banks, and the ultrawealthy.

And although this is yet to happen in the future, Biden will surely need to compromise with himself now and implement some of Bernie Sanders’ policy ideas and vision. There is no other way Biden can deserve the support of the Left that he really needs to take on Trump. It is not too farfetched to think that Democrats do not want to repeat the 2016 mistakes. Then, rhetoric of the ‘unity’, ‘vote blue no matter what’ type, would not suffice. Not in today’s world of politics. Actions would have to be taken, and Biden would definitely have to do something in order to appeal to the Sanders voters. Otherwise, it will be virtually impossible for him to take on Trump and win. After all, you cannot win if you do not energize such large chunks of the electorate like the young people, the outsider voters and the voters who are anti-establishment. All of whom are Sanders supporters.

Without a doubt, a glimpse at Biden’s record through the years shows that this is very unlikely to happen. The fact of the matter is, that Biden has never been a progressive champion and has not fought on most of the same fronts that Sanders has. And thus, it is understandable that people will be sceptical about such a future prospect. However, given the extreme situation in the world now, and the need for powerful leadership more than ever, compromises will have to be made if Biden wants to win. If not trough direct policy promises, at least, as the progressive political commentators Kyle Kulinski has noted, through offering the VP spot to someone like Senator Nina Turner, a main Sanders surrogate and an honest fighter for progressive change. Someone who will appeal to the Left and will pursue the main ideals of the field.

One thing is certain. A Biden win in November heavily involves the Left. In one way or another. Otherwise, Democrats should prepare for something worse than 2016 in 2020.

Written by Zafir Zafirov 

Bibliography:

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-51939392
  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/17/trump-dissed-coronavirus-pandemic-worry-now-claims-he-warned-about-it.html
  3. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/05/coronavirus-global-cases-pass-12m-as-trump-warns-us-of-worse-to-come
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/us/politics/march-17-democratic-primary.html
  6. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/16/biden-debate-female-veep-131610
  7. https://medium.com/@ronaldwdixon/elizabeth-warrens-betrayal-of-the-progressive-movement-5a0b6ebfed39
  8. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/03/sanders-drop-out-primary-coronavirus.html
  9. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/bernie-sanders-should-suspend-his-2020-presidential-campaign-help-biden-ncna1163481
  10. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/its-time-bernie-sanders-end-his-campaign/608257/
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/05/bernie-sanders-campaign-assessing-coronavirus
  12. https://www.wsj.com/articles/bernie-sanders-focuses-on-coronavirus-as-he-reassesses-campaign-11584796882
  13. https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/reality-has-endorsed-bernie-sanders
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbK4RoEPSzY&feature=emb_title

A New Leader, A New Time for the Labour Party, but Big Challenges Remain

With recent events you may not have been aware, or perhaps you forgot, that the Labour Party was having its long and drawn out Party Leadership Election. The results are in anyway, Keir Starmer is victorious and will succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Party Leader. Starmer’s task is not an easy one, he takes over at a dire time for the Labour party. Like the Tories during 1997-2005, Labour are in their new “wilderness years”, if they are not careful, they will suffer another defeat in 2024 and Tories will be in power for another 5 years. Starmer must rebuild the Labour Party after the recent general election, where the party won 202 seats having lost 60 from 2017, making it their worst performance in an election since 1935.

Starmer needs to decide how he is going to regain trust and support of traditional Labour voters and regain Labour heartlands, the so called “Red Wall”, where the party collapsed in 2019. He will also have to decide what a post Brexit Britain Labour Party will look like, and what it will say on the big issues facing the country. But also, and probably a more difficult task, he must decide where the ideological fate of his party will lie, whether he remains to the left or moves to centre, similar to where New Labour went or perhaps somewhere in between. Whatever he does decide to do, not everyone will be happy in the Labour Party. And of course, he must tackle the evil of anti-Semitism in the party which will be a true test of his leadership early on.

 This article will aim to show just how big a task is facing Keir Starmer, and what those problems are. Labour have until 2024 to prepare for the next general election, and as Harold Wilson once said “a week is a long time in politics” so there is plenty that could go wrong for the Conservatives and plenty that could go right for the Labour Party in that time. Only three men have won elections for Labour since 1945, Attlee, Wilson and Blair. Time will tell if Starmer joins them or whether he joins the ranks of Kinnock, Miliband and Corbyn.

The 2019 Election marked another turbulent time in British politics. This was the third general election in four years and the ninth major electoral contest in the decade. The Labour Party and the UK were going into this election against the backdrop of Brexit, a Parliament that was unable to agree a Withdrawal Agreement or anything in fact and a mood of great anger in the country. The Tories had been in power for nine years and the government saw the lowest satisfaction scores for the way in which it was running the country for any administration since John Major’s (Ipsos MORI, 2019). Normally, after the “cost of governance” and satisfaction levels like that, this should have been an easy win for the Labour Party. Far from it.

One reason for their defeat was that Labour faced an electoral dilemma, how to hold onto their collation of voters from the 2017 election? At the time, the party on the one hand had a majority of Labour MPs (61%) represented constituencies that had a majority leave vote in 2016, whilst on the other a clear majority of Labour voters (68%) supported Remain in 2016 (BES, 2019). Labour was doomed from the start, there was no way the party could hold onto both of these very different and distinct groups at the same time. And what we saw at the 2019 election was exactly that, Labour losing in many leave voting areas. The Conservatives captured ‘fifty-seven seats, all but three from Labour. These included traditional Labour heartlands in the so-called ‘red wall’: Great Grimsby (Labour since 1945); Bishop Auckland (1935); Basset-law (1935); Wakefield (1932); Leigh (1922); Don Valley (1922); and Bolsover (a seat Labour had never lost when contesting) (Cutts, et al., 2020). So, the challenge for Starmer and the Labour Party going forward is: how to win these voters and seats back? How to build a more permanent and united coalition of support for the Labour Party? Unfortunately, for the Labour Party the loss of support amongst their traditional working-class base, known as the “falling ladder”, has been a long time coming, as Figure 1 shows:

Figure 1: The difference between Labour and Conservative vote share by class composition of English and Welsh constituencies, 2010–2019

Fig 1

(Cutts, et al., 2020, p. 17)

Figure 1 shows the enormous task facing Starmer, he must pick the ladder back up and prevent this election from becoming a realigning moment. Many in Labour will be hoping that 2019 was a one off, that people lent their votes to the Conservatives because of Brexit and will return to the Labour Party after. Of course, Labour will have to earn their vote back but there is a logic to that idea. Now that Britain has left the EU but is in the transition period as it negotiates a future trade deal with our European neighbours, perhaps this dividing line in our politics will weaken. In a recent poll there was 46-54 split in favour of staying out indicated a small swing in favour of Brexit since January (Woodcock, 2020). So perhaps once, excuse me here, “we get Brexit done” there will be a focus on other issues in a post Brexit Britain. Issues that the Labour Party can be stronger on, and issues that enable them to start winning back the support of the voters it lost in 2019.

So, what drove former Labour voters to other parties? Understanding why these voters left might help the party in winning them back. As you can see in Figure 2, Jeremy Corbyn/leadership was the main reason voters did not support Labour in the 2019 election according to this poll. The Labour Party will now hope that the election of Starmer as leader will settle this issue and his name will not be as toxic for the party on the doorsteps. However, Figure 1 also shows that there was much to Labour’s failings in 2019 than just leadership.

Figure 2: What drove former Labour voters back to other parties?

lewis fig 2

(YouGov, 2019)

Brexit, as mentioned above, played a significant role. Perhaps, like leadership, this will now be settled, and voters will not be turned off by Labour. But the other telling issue raised by Figure 2, is that people did not trust Labour on policy and economic competence. There was a feeling this time around that the Labour manifesto and policies were undeliverable and would cost too much. This was consistent with polling before the election, which showed that the majority (63%) thought that Labour’s policies are not realistically deliverable, and that the party would not deliver on its promises. Former Labour voters said in their own words that they: “did not trust the manifesto, you cannot keep borrowing to pay for services”, that “the socialist policies were frightening” and “the sums didn’t add up for all the things they promised if they got in” (YouGov, 2019). This represents a significant challenge for Starmer now coming into the top job in the Labour Party. He and his party need to convince voters that Labour can be trusted on the economy and the public finances if they have any hope of becoming a credible option for the voters.

Finally, I would like to talk about another major problem for the Labour Party. Scotland does not get raised enough in terms of Labours problems as much as it should; Scotland is another once traditional heartlands that they have lost. In 2010, even right in the dying days of New Labour, the party manged to have forty-one seats out of fifty-nine in Scotland (BBC News, 2010). At the 2019 election the Labour Party lost six seats and was left with just one seat (BBC News, 2019). The massive decline in Scotland creates a big problem for Labour. For the Labour Party to win a majority, the party must start winning seats back off the SNP and other parties. Otherwise Labour will have to win more seats in England and Wales. This requires an even bigger swing, as the party will need to take seats of the Conservatives, where there are majorities of over 10,000, no easy task. Labour must re-find its political place in Scotland amongst the Nationalist versus Unionist debate or risks remaining in the side-lines of Scottish politics and out of government in the UK.

If the Labour Party is to start winning elections and return to government, then it must address the issues listed in this article. It is currently facing a significant moment in the party’s history, whether it chooses to return to power and credibility, or whether it continues deeper into the political wilderness. It will not be easy, but the path back to having a Labour Prime Minister and a Labour government can start now. We will see if they, and Starmer take it.

Written by Lewis Virgo

Bibliograpy

BBC News (2010) Election 2010 [Online] BBC.
Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/region/7.stm
[Accessed 4 4 2020].

BBC News, (2019) Election 2019 [Online] BBC.
Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2019/results/scotland
[Accessed 4 4 2020].

BES, 2019. Labour’s electoral dilemma [Online] BES.
Available from: https://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-findings/labours-electoral-dilemma/#.Xoc-UIhKhEY
[Accessed 3 April 2020].

Cutts, D. Goodwin, M. Heath, O. & Surridge, P. (2020) ‘Brexit, the 2019 General Election and the Realignment of British Politics’. The Political Quarterly, 91 (1), pp. 7-23.

Ipsos MORI, (2019) Worst public satisfaction ratings for any government since John Major [Online] Ipsos MORI.
Available from: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/worst-public-satisfaction-ratings-any-government-john-major
[Accessed 3 April 2020].

Woodcock, A. (2020) UK still divided over Brexit with almost half country wanting to rejoin EU, poll finds [Online] The Independent.
Available from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-brexit-latest-poll-rejoin-eu-younger-older-divide-a9384661.html
[Accessed 3 April 2020].

YouGov, (2019) YouGov In their Own Words: Why Voters Abandonded Labour [Online] YouGov.
Available from: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/12/23/their-own-words-why-voters-abandoned-labour
[Accessed 4 April 2020 ].

 

 

The Democrat Party in 2020: A House Divided

It has no doubt been an extraordinarily momentous start to the decade, especially in the world of American politics; Donald Trump has gone through the impeachment trial unscathed, the Democratic primary campaign season has begun to pick up steam and uncertainty once again grips the nations voters as it prepares for Presidential Election in November… well, uncertainty from one side of the political bench, at least.

So, it begs the question; how did we get here? It seemed that after the Democrat Party won a majority in the House during the 2018 Mid-Term Elections, the countless leakers and whistleblowers who have gone on to publish their accounts of the chaotic nature of Trump’s White House, and Nancy Pelosi’s filing for impeachment that the ‘red wave’ had finally reached a blue sea-wall. As it turns out, that was not the case. In fact, it was precisely the opposite. The Democrats have had all the opportunity in the world in the last four years to make major reforms in their own party so that a repeat of 2016’s mistakes would never occur again; they could’ve become the party of reform, middle-of-the-line politics that could draw in the majority of the American people regardless of their backgrounds. On the other hand,  they could’ve gone down the road of Bernie-style populism, appealing to the same anti-establishment message that was so persuading for many voters in 2016. The very same message that Trump echoed on his way to the Presidency. Either would have worked in their favor, as it would have given the Democrats a definable identity they could bank on for future elections. Unfortunately, the Democrats have been stuck in a sort of state of limbo: they have no idea who they are, neither does the voting public.

The Democrat Primary is the perfect example of just how much the party is struggling to define their character. We’ve seen a myriad of candidates, with all sorts of positions ranging from the establishment-style Washington politics we’ve come to expect of former Vice President Joe Biden, to the fresh-faced, but forward-thinking campaigns of Andrew Yang.  Then to the radical anti-establishmentarianism that we’ve all come to know and love from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Now, one might look at all the candidates that have been up for the challenge and think that it is quite good to have this wide-range of representation from the Democrats; however, it highlights just how fractured the party has become, especially in terms of generational difference. For many of the older generation Democrats, populism is seen very much as a part of the emerging problem from Washington. Many of these voters over the age of 40 are the same ones who supported Clinton during the 2016 race, whereas Bernie appealed to, and still does appeal to millennial and Gen Z voters. With the election of other Bernie-style Democrats, such as AOC and Rashida Tlaib, the Democrat Party has seen major shifts even further Left on the political spectrum. This divide shows during the debates especially, where it seems that none of the candidates can seem to agree on any consistent policies except for one: getting Trump out of the Oval Office. This is a major mistake which thte Democrats have made in the past 4 years, the same mistake that Hillary made during her 2016 campaign; instead of bringing forward any actual policies or legislation, instead of working across the political aisle in order to keep the nation turning, they have made one issue their mantra; being anti-Trump. It has blown up in their face every step of the way. From Mueller, to the confirmation of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, to the impeachment, Trump has outmaneuvered them every step of the way. Showing that the Democrats are no longer a political party, but rather just acting as a legislative roadblock to get by in government. Remove Trump from the equation, and the Democrats aren’t particularly unified on anything else. The major shifts to far-left politics has meant that the new generation of Democrats that are rising in the ranks are moving away from operating as the party of Clinton and Pelos.  Becoming a political movement that punches further and further towards the left each year because of the shockwaves that had been sent as a result of the rise of Bernie-style populism in 2016. A wise man once said that a house divided cannot stand, and if Trump wins in 2020, the Democrats will have nothing else left to unify them. There will not be another impeachment, and there won’t be any other attempts to force Trump out of the White House, those cards have been used and squandered already. So, what else will the Democrats have? The answer in my opinion, is nothing.

Meanwhile, President Trump has won major victories in the eyes of his base voters. He has managed to maintain steady economic growth and re-energized the manufacturing industry in America’s heartland. Trump has been able to navigate his way around the unique and oftentimes challenging foreign affairs while keeping to his core value of “putting America first”, and getting many successes on the world stage, especially in regards to Iran.  Most importantly, Trump has operated in the cut-throat Washington political game, and has played his opposition like a fiddle.

Written by Ilija Dokmanovic 

Commentary-Brexit: What Now?

On Tuesday evening, the Government suffered a historic defeat in the House of Commons. The Withdrawal Agreement that Theresa May has spent years negotiating and months trying to sell to MPs was decisively rejected-202 ayes to 432 noes. In the aftermath of this catastrophic defeat and the subsequent failed Vote of No Confidence, what now for Brexit? Some of our writers share their thoughts on the situation.

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Despatch Box on #GE2017

 

Election banner

By Rob Johnston

So it’s finally the big day to head down to your polling station and exercise your democratic right! Will this election be as people predicted when it was first announced, or will things not be quite as they seemed? As the polls begin to come out and we start to get a general idea of the votes, we’ll discuss and maybe even predict what we think will happen. So stick around for the rest of the evening for more updates!

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Commentary – May’s GE2017 Speech

Theresa May

On the 18th of April, just before 11am, Prime Minister Theresa May surprised the nation when she announced her intention to hold a general election on the 8th of June. “The country is coming together, but Westminster is not” were her words and she made clear her reasoning for a 2017 general election being the disunity in Parliament, and a general feeling against Brexit by other political parties. These are the Despatch Box’s writer’s thoughts and feelings on this event, as well as their predictions on what will happen, and what the future holds for the political parties of the UK.

Continue reading “Commentary – May’s GE2017 Speech”