We still have this instinct that newspapers tell us what’s happening, TV News shows us the world and opinion polls report what random, general people think. They are windows onto the world, bringing distant realities to our door.
None of this is true. It’s quite possible that it’s never been true.
During this election it appears that the media has gone mad. Fake videos, fake twitter accounts, blatant lies, all go unreported. A 450 page proof that the NHS is being privatised (not going to be, it already is) – almost no coverage. Worse, the BBC actively denied that the document was proof of anything meaningful at all.
Corbyn, a lifelong supporter of equality, falsely accused of anti-semitism and it’s front page news, recycled again and again, the BBC chiming in to demand an apology.
Johnson’s party is shown to be badly affected by antisemitism, the BBC sweep in and rescue him. No coverage.
Corbyn asks Labour to block a Brexit deal and he’s a dictator, forcing his will on the party.
Johnson tries to unlawfully close parliament to force a Brexit deal through and he’s a hero – taking on the world to deliver the will of the people.
Corbyn won’t state his view on Brexit, meaning he is allowing the people to speak and not trying to influence them either way – a brave, strong and rare bit of integrity. The press report that he can’t make up his mind, he’s a ditherer, not decisive enough.
Johnson lies to the Queen, unlawfully prorogues parliament, tries to force his Brexit without giving time for adequate questions, refuses to do an economic assessment of his deal, suppresses a report on Russian interference… The majority press are silent.
Corbyn blocks and defeats more harmful motions and policy than any opposition leader in history. He’s a trouble maker.
Johnson loses almost every vote and has his no-deal disaster blocked. He’s a noble man defeated by a corrupt enemy.
But is any of this new?
We talk as if this election has been the ‘beginning of the end’ for truth, the media ‘suddenly’ having lost all integrity. But where has that integrity ever been?
The media have fed us their agenda since there was a media. The difference is that now the population can go online and fact-check. It isn’t for nothing that dictatorships ban large parts of the internet. They’ve been lying to their populace for generations and won’t have them sniffing out the truth online.
Telling us that this corruption is new is all part of the corruption. We feel confused because we can’t trust anything. But this isn’t a case of being lost in a new world of lies. This is a case of being aware, for the first time in many cases, that it’s all lies. Far from being disempowered by the disinformation campaign, we are liberated by it.
Where once we took the opinions of our choice of newspaper and simply lived by them – blind to how we were being used – now many of us see through the propaganda dressed as reporting. We are forced to look outside the media for real answers – and happily we just so happen to have the internet now where we can do it.
Rather than read the newspapers digest of Tory policy, or a short news clip summarising the new Labour manifesto – if we want the truth we will have to go to the source – to read the policy, to study the manifesto.
Our job now is to help educate anyone who hasn’t yet woken up to the lie.
People who vote Tory because of their sound economic sense are the same people who write reviews for books they’ve never read.
We can see ourselves as locked in a maze of disinformation. Or we can take this as an opportunity to untangle ourselves from old, long outdated authorities.
Most polls tell us that the Tories are still winning. They lie. They do not report the opinions of random people. Instead they use several tricks. For example:
You need a sample of 500 people. So interview 5,000, and then take from that the 500 which say what you want, and then report on it as a poll of ‘500 random people’.
Ask questions like:
What do you see as the biggest problems for Labour? a) The economy, b) The NHS, c) The Climate.
You think they’re asking what Labour needs to tackle, but they report it as you feeling Labours approach to The Economy, NHS or Climate is problematic.
Q. Do you enjoy murder sprees and will you vote Labour? Yes / No
They are usually a bit more subtle, but that’s the kind of simple trick which gets you the answer you want.
Don’t believe the polls. Keep hopeful, and keep trying to wake people up. Don’t tell them they are wrong, instead, lead them somehow to the truth.
In this war we are not in trenches with guns, we don’t have to go hungry or walk for miles with a heavy pack. In this war we must somehow find the time. The time to locate a copy of a policy, to read a manifesto, to find the right information on a website and check it can be trusted. Then we have to get this information to the sleeper, to show them the truth behind the lie.
It’s hard work, and most will hate you for breaking their illusion of safety… but at least you won’t be shot at. Last time our fight for freedom cost millions of lives in terrible battles. This war won’t cost any lives, unless we lose it… then it could take more lives than any war in history.