current affairs democracy

A conversation about the referendum

This morning I was on BBC Three Counties Radio to do the early morning newspaper review, something I do from time to time. Of course the papers are wall to wall referendum news, so I had a chat about it all with Helen Legh.

Here’s the first part, if you’re interested. You can hear the whole thing on the Three Counties site, starting at around 1 hour 38 minutes in.



  1. Amusing that you complain about exaggerating by the Express for things you don’t agree with but have no problem when Green pressure groups do it. Sauce for goose, sauce for the gander. I always find the argument that newspapers lead public opinion a bit patronising. Firstly it suggests the public are easily lead sheeple and secondly that newspapers, unlike almost any other business, only offer readers what the papers’s owners want rather than following the readers and reflecting their views back.

    Dan Hannan is no hypocrite. He never said Brexit would lead to lower immigration. His long campaign for Brexit has been one of principled support for liberal free markets and parliamentary sovereignty.

    There is an angle to the referendum that you should find encouraging. For once the majority voted for something that they clearly understood was not good for economic growth. True is was to be limit immigration rather than social justice or tackle climate change, but it’s a start.

    I voted Remain but it was a balanced choice and we must respect the reasons for the choices of others.

    1. I think you’ll find I regularly denounce exaggerated and hysterical green claims.

      I’d be interested to know how you think people form opinions, if not from the media.

      If you listen again, I say quite specifically that I wasn’t picking on Daniel Hannan, but using that story as an example of how people aren’t going to get what they’re expecting from the out vote.

      I have a post on growth planned, as it happens, from a slightly different but not unrelated angle. There’s nothing to celebrate in thwarting economic growth in an economy that depends on it though. That’s just shooting yourself in the foot.

      1. Maybe people form their opinions from their experiences. Or did you get all your views direct from the Guardian?

        It is an elitist argument. They are too stupid to form their own opinions while I am so clever I work my own out.

        1. People rely on the media to make sense of their experiences and put a political context around them. That’s not an elitist argument, it’s a fact, and I am quite happy to admit that I rely on the news to help me understand the world around me. So do you, whether you realise it or not.

          Incidentally, I find the Guardian quite annoying, and have always preferred the Independent. That too has been taken from me this year, alas.

          1. While media helps form views the idea that people simply regurgitate what the Express or the Mail say (never the Mirror I notice) is false. The BBC and ITV have far greater reach and most newspaper readers see the TV news too.

            In the case of stories about the EU we have definite evidence that papers follow their readers, not the other way round. In the late 1980s the EEC was hardly in the papers as it was seen as dull. Then a young Telegraph journalist posted to the dead-end assignment of Brussels, a B Johnson (whatever happened to him?), started writing exaggerated stories about straight bananas and the like. This proved popular with the newspaper buying public so other papers copied it. Note the important point – It is only in the chip wrappers because it is popular, not it is popular because it is in the papers.

            Perhaps we should have high minded (and dull) newspapers like they do in the USA but then their TV news is tabloid so where do you want your populism?

          2. You protest too much – did I diss your favourite paper when I singled out the Express? Is Rupert Murdoch a personal friend? You’re way off the mark here. I don’t think people blindly follow the papers, and didn’t say so. ‘Influence’ is the word I used, and if you’re arguing that the media doesn’t influence public debate – well, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and guess that you’re just out for a fight.

          3. I’m sorry the Independent died because there were too few people like you but that doesn’t mean papers with strong business models are bad. My paper is the FT btw.

            I didn’t say the media doesn’t influence the debate but it is balanced. We have the Mail and the Mirror and we have the BBC. They don’t present the world in the same way. You reached for the lazy trope that the papers are trying to make us follow their agenda which when you boil it down is a excuse for failing to persuade people to agree with you at best and a veiled call for censorship at worst.

            You have yet to get a grip on the central fact that the pro-EU cause had no answer to the desire from the public to control immigration. That far more than silly stories about EU regulations did for our membership. When you have worked things through perhaps you should do some thinking about that rather than ignore it.

          4. Media is more than newspapers. Murdoch doesn’t control independent radio, the internet, the BBC or ITV and Sky has to be impartial. No one read, watch or pay for anything he does.

            You are making excuses and you know it. You can carry on ignoring the real issue.

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