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Media mea culpa? We’ll pass on the humble pie

Terry smiling headA lot of humble pie is being eaten by political correspondents following the “shock” general election result, in particular for misjudging Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The apologies have been coming thick and fast. Telly pundits like Guardian columnist Owen Jones, stated: “I owe Corbyn, John McDonnell, Seumas Milne, his policy chief Andrew Fisher, and others, an unreserved, and heartfelt apology.”

Nick Cohen writing in The Observer says: “I was wrong. He has not led Labour to a catastrophic defeat but a narrow one.”

John Rentoul in The Independent writes: “I was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn. I had already been wrong about him twice.”

Excuse me for exempting Daily Business from this collective mea culpa. London’s media may have failed miserably to read the runes on their own doorstep, but some of us were not so convinced that Theresa May was a shoo-in and that Mr Corbyn was a busted flush.

In our articles on 21 May, 31 May, 1 June, 5 June and 7 June we reported a narrowing of the polls and a surge in support for Mr Corbyn and Labour. It was impacting sterling and the equity markets. We reported how Mr Corbyn was once again playing to packed houses.

Crucially, we picked up on how Labour was ahead in its use of social media, targeting the millennials, students and young careerists.

They latched on to Mr Corbyn’s more positive message of hope through such proposals as scrapping tuition fees and as a result he received more hits than Mrs May’s more negative and fear-inducing campaign.

Sun ridicules Corbyn: but he had the last laugh

The big guns of the media still have a problem with social media, continuing to believe in their own fading power and unable to accept that news is now consumed in many forms.

Labour insiders who worked for former Labour party leader Ed Miliband insist that the 2015 UK General Election was lost on Facebook. They were clearly determined not to make the same mistake.

Daily Business did not declare support for any party, but it was becoming necessary to cut through the onslaught of rancid writing that passes for comment in some of our national papers.

We demanded only a renewed attempt at a form of consensus politics that would bring warring factions together. The Brexit issue is a case in point and it is interesting to see growing support for cross-party representation in the negotiations from a variety of sources, including Ruth Davidson and William Hague. There was little support for this in the papers which were more interested in demonising the party leaders.

The big titles, cheered on by the BBC, like to think they influence voters, but insiders admit this was not even true of previous campaigns. A Sun executive said last week that only former editor Kelvin Mackenzie really believed that it was “The Sun Wot Won It” in 1992. In these days of a more plural media it is clear that there are other forces at work.

Related articles:

Daily Business Comment

Corbyn winning the social media battle

May election call looks to have backfired

Labour surges in London and on social media 

Sterling slips as May’s advantage narrows

Tories lead narrows as social care worries troops

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