Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tories Box Clever - but They Must Be Held to Account; DAVID TAYLOR GOOBY Raises Concerns about Media Scrutiny of the Government, Amidst Westminster Attempts to Limit Its Ability to Independently Criticise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tories Box Clever - but They Must Be Held to Account; DAVID TAYLOR GOOBY Raises Concerns about Media Scrutiny of the Government, Amidst Westminster Attempts to Limit Its Ability to Independently Criticise

Article excerpt

IAM going to start this column by stating the obvious. The Tories won the last election.

Why tell us that? Because I do not think it was the landslide win that many people talk about.

The Labour Party certainly lost, and many feel, as I do, that the Tories won not because they had a big mandate, but because people did not have confidence in the Labour Party.

What is to be done about that is material for other articles. What I want to talk about here is how the Tories are quite blatantly entrenching their position.

I think recent events have been a good example of what sociologists call "hegemony theory". Most of you will wonder what that is - well I'll try and explain.

Many years ago when I was at university I studied the writings of Antonio Gramsci, and Italian who wrote in the time of Mussolini.

He wanted to explain how rightwing regimes could stay in power without necessarily using force, and could beat left-wing parties in elections.

He argued that they managed to control the culture of society through organs such as the press, other media, churches and so forth.

All these organisations, argued Gramsci, made right-wing ideas appear "normal" so people accepted them. The rulers had the "hegemony" (a Greek word for leadership) of ideas. No wonder Mussolini locked him up.

Now we have just seen a budget which even the right-wing press described as being more about politics and economics.

It very successfully discomforted and divided the Labour Party, but underneath the gloss made the rich richer and the poor worse off.

In terms of improving the efficiency of the economy it did not do much - infrastructure programmes were postponed. It established a dominant idea - that higher pay was better than welfare - with which few would disagree.

To introduce such an idea would require the gradual reduction of inwork benefits as the minimum wage increased.

In fact, because of the rapid withdrawal of benefits, most of the lowpaid will now be worse off. But the Tories had captured the big idea which made it difficult for the Labour Party to defend welfare measures and allowed the Government to make substantial benefit cuts. …

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