Haringey: Mainstream media coverage reaches a new low

The reporting, from all sections of the media, on the political situation in Haringey has been horrendous, both in terms of quality and balance.

Andrew Neil, presenter of This Week and Daily Politics on the BBC.
Andrew Neil, presenter of This Week and Daily Politics on the BBC.

“Respectable” media outlets, like the BBC, have sunk to the level of tabloids like The Sun in their coverage the story.

All they have achieved is to misinform viewers, so that those who have not followed the events of Haringey Council closely are unaware of what the story is truly about.

What has actually happened in Haringey, North London, is that a corporation called Lendlease (with the support of the local council) has been trying to take over public property that includes people’s homes, school buildings and a library.

Local people decided to fight back and organised a grassroots movement which achieved a huge success recently and led to the council leader being forced to resign, with the plans for privatisation facing defeat.

But mainstream media opted to frame this as the leader of the council, Claire Kober, being bullied out of the job by Labour members. It’s almost comical. Bullying, by definition, means the powerful dominating the weak, whereas in this case it was the weak standing up for themselves and winning.

So, basically it’s the opposite of bullying, which means the media framing of the story is entirely wrong.

Amazingly, throughout this coverage, in the newspapers and on the BBC, there has been almost no mention of the corporation involved, called Lendlease. This is a joke — they are the main player in the game and they would end up with owning all of this property if the plans for privatisation took place. The property being sold is worth in total an estimated £2bn!

My guess is, the media do not mention this corporation as the senior people at the BBC and at the newspapers are sympathetic to privatisation, and mentioning the corporation involved would lead to public opinion turning, yet again, against privatisation.

And by leaving out the corproation and only mentioning Claire Kober, they can frame it in a way that suggests Kober had to resign due to bullying.

What actually took place, in terms of the council, is that Kober and many of her colleagues decided to put their full backing behind Lendlease and use their political power to help push the privatisation plans forward. Local people, many inside the Labour Party, organised and as a decided not to pick Pro-Privatisation councillors to represent the Party in the upcoming local elections.

With Labour likely to win the elections with ease, this means that Lendlease are unlikely to have a council that supports the privatisation. As a result, Kober decided to resign.

This  is a big defeat for Lendlease, but a great victory for local residents in Haringey. Yet, for the establishment media, this is nothing to celebrate. Rather, they have gone on the offensive and played the “bully” card in order to spin the story.

It’s a form of media manipulation that George Orwell might have written about, but it’s happening right here in Britain, in 2018.

However, I’m left feeling positive about the situation — I see ever fewer people accepting what appears in the mainstream media. Yes, many are misinformed about the situation in Haringey, and will believe what they have reported… but there are plenty who think critically, and when they see something like this on TV or in a newspaper, the establishment media can no longer escape the scrutiny of social media  as they might have in the past.

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Shlomo Anker

Shlomo is regular contributor and co-founder at the Pileus. He was previously involved in the Labour-supporting media group, Jewish Voice, and in an ongoing project to revive the Yiddish language. He is a fan of Leyton Orient & Hapoel Tel Aviv and a keen cyclist. It is while cycling that he often does his thinking for what to write in his articles.