Home > Election, Media > Would the Lib Dems really lock Murdoch out of politics?

Would the Lib Dems really lock Murdoch out of politics?

David Yelland wrote on Monday that success for the Liberal Democrats ‘could lock Murdoch and the media elite out of UK politics.’ The thrust of the argument being that the News Corp has no strong connection with Clegg and his colleagues, so it would deprive Murdoch of his (perceived) access to Number 10:

The fact is these papers, and others, decided months ago that Cameron was going to win. They are now invested in his victory in the most undemocratic fashion. They have gone after the prime minister in a deeply personal way and until last week they were certain he was in their sights.

I hold no brief for Nick Clegg. But now, thanks to him – an ingenue with no media links whatsoever – things look very different, because now the powerless have a voice as well as the powerful.

It is a persuasive article. But would the Lib Dems in office really have that effect in the long-term? Instead, it might simply mean that after all the years of being ignored, the Liberal Democrats get a ticket to join the Murdoch circle. After the honeymoon and a period in office (coalition or otherwise), a new government will have to make some unpopular decisions and will get some bad press. It may then be hard to govern without some relationship with the biggest newspaper proprietor. In the long-term that may not be such a resounding victory for democracy.

It would all depend on what the Lib Dems do while in office and while they have the goodwill to stand up to Murdoch. It would only lock him and the media elite out of politics if they have a long-term media policy that will address the concentration of private media ownership. Looking at the Lib Dem manifesto, it does say the Party supports ‘a strong and diverse media, free from government interference and pressure is essential to a free and democratic society.’ It then adds that they will:

Ensure that the BBC remains strong, free from interference and securely funded, not least to provide impartial news, independent of political and commercial pressures. We will also ensure that the BBC does not undermine the viability of other media providers through unfair competition based on its public funding and dominant position.

While Murdoch might not like the first sentence, the second gives the Lib Dems some scope to court the News Corp, if it becomes necessary to do so.

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