Popular Newspapers, the Labour Party and British Politics
By James Thomas
Routledge – 2004 – 240 pages
Series: British Politics and Society
'IT'S THE SUN WOT WON IT', was the famous headline claim of Britain's most popular newspaper following the Conservative party's victory over Labour in the 1992 general election. The headline referred to a virulent press campaign against Neil Kinnock's Labour party, and dramatically highlighted one of the chief features of British politics during the twentieth century - the conflict between a socialist Labour party and a capitalist popular press. Labour's frequent complaints of the political and electoral unfairness of newspaper bias meant that some commentators considered that this dispute had a heritage as old as the party itself. Others, including the Labour leadership at the time, argued that despite past tensions, the 1992 election marked the culmination of an unprecedented campaign of vilification against the party.
Popular Newspapers, the Labour Party and British Politics assesses these competing claims, looking not only at 1992 but both back and forward to examine the continuities and changes in newspaper coverage of British politics and the Labour party over the twentieth century. The book explores whether the popular press has lived up to its claim of being a democratic 'fourth estate', or has merely, as Labour politicians have argued been a powerful 'fifth column' distorting the democratic process. Drawing on a range of previously unexamined sources this book offers the first original and comprehensive history of a fascinating aspect of British politics from Beaverbrook to Blair.
James Thomas is a lecturer at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University, and has published articles and esays exploring the relationship between the popular press and British politics.
'The style of writing is very-readable and accessible. Data is presented well and linked to the wider issues. On the whole this book is both useful and user friendly for undergraduates and academics alike.' - Political Studies Review
Introduction 1. 'Vote for Them': The Popular Press and the 1945 General Election 1.1 'Red Letters and Savings Scares': The Right Wing Press 1906-1935 1.2 The Growth of a Centre Left Popular Press 1.3 ' The National Socialists': The Tory Press and the 1945 Election 1.4 Never Again': The 1945 Election 1.5 'Among the Foremost Enemies of Mankind': The Popular Press 1945-51 2. George the Third - Or Time for a Change?': The Popular Press 1954-51 2.1 The Decline in Press Partisanship 1951-59 2.2 'Tories in a Ferment' 1962-63 2.3 'Sowing the Seeds of Discontent'; The Popular Pres and the Road to 1979 2.4 Exposing the Tory 'Black Record': The Labour Press in 1964 2.5 'Nominally Conservative': The Tory Press in 1964 2.6 'A Press Wot Lost It?' 3. Towards 'The Winter of Discontent': The Popular Press and the Road to 1979 3.1 'From Honeymoon to Divorce': Wilson and the Press 1964-70 3.2 'Smears and Forgeries' 1974: Political Reorientation 3.4 'A Winter's Tale' 1979: Political Reorientation (3) 3.5 A 'Sea Change' in Press Coverage 4 'Nightmare on Kinnock Street': Labour and the Tory Tabloids 1979-1992 4.1 A 'Loony Left': From Foot to Kinnock: 1979-87 4.2 Was it the Press Wot Won It?: The 1992 General Election 4.3 'A Double Whammy': Taxation and the Economy 4.4 The Sun Says … 'Why I'm Backing Kinnock, by Stalin' 4.5 'A Nightmare on Kinnock Street' 4.6 'A Siege Mentality': The Effect on Labour and Kinnock 4.7 Tabloid Agendas 4.8 'Always a Bad Press?' Continuity, Change and the Reasons for Press Bias 4.9 Conclusion 5. 'Vote Conservative - Vote Blair': Labour and the Popular Press 1992-2003 5.1 'Nightmare on Major Street': An Anti-Conservative Press 5.2 Labour: From Smith to Blair 5.3 'Winning a Place in The Sun': Labour's Media Campaign 5.4 'Like Him, Shame About His Party': Press Coverage of Labour 1994-96 5.5 'The Press Backs Blair': The 1997 General Election 5.6 Why the Press Backed Blair 5.7 The Press Backs Blair Again: The 2001 Election and After 5.8 Conclusion 6. Conclusions 6.1 Depoliticisation or Politicisation? 6.2 Changes in Power, Circulation and Trust 6.3 From Good News from Politicians to Bad News from Journalists 6.4 A Right Wing Shift 6.5 From Fourth Estate to Fifth Column 6.6 A Tory Press Wot Won It?