Blair changes mind on Britain’s “mafia” media moguls after Brexit “propaganda” campaign
EX-LABOUR PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR has launched scathing criticism of the owners of Britain’s right-wing tabloid press, stating that they have “crossed the line” by behaving like a “cartel” with pro-Brexit “propaganda”.
Blair, who faced criticism for his close relationship with media billionaire Rupert Murdoch while in power, said he “had not criticised them openly” yet now had to open up about the power of the right-wing press.
Speaking in an at times blunt GQ interview with his former head of communication Alastair Campbell, himself considered one of the most powerful figures in Blair’s inner circle while in office, Blair spoke out against the “small group of very powerful individuals” who “control these papers”.
“These people come at you with everything they’ve got. They’re like a mafia.” Tony Blair on powerful media figures
“I have changed my view about the media with Brexit,” Blair said. “I think their activities in Brexit changed the dynamic of their relationship with politics. This is a decision that changed the whole course of the country’s history.
“Whatever issues I have with the media, and the way that increasingly overtime newspapers have become the playthings of a small group of very powerful individuals, my view is they crossed the line when they operated like a cartel in respect to Brexit.”
“To have this small group of individuals who control the press, who on the right, who provided that ramp of propaganda and who provide the vilification of anyone who dares oppose that now, when it’s not a decision of these newspapers – like they’re institutions. This is a decision of individuals. These individuals control these papers,” he added.
Campbell listed “[Rupert] Murdoch, [Paul] Dacre, [David and Fredrick] Barclays, [Richard] Desmond” as the four central figures to The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, and The Daily Express respectively.
He chastised Blair for the relationship New Labour developed with the press “Admit you made a mistake.” “You stopped me doing daily rebuttal,” he said.
“I think that’s a line [Brexit] that they’ve stepped over,” Blair claimed. “And therefore whereas I, for ages and ages and ages, had not criticised them openly – I’m sorry, this is not on. You have put yourself in a different position in relation to the democracy of this country. Especially given many of them don’t actually live and pay taxes in this country.”
During and after the Brexit campaign the right-wing tabloids have run a series of inflammatory stories, attacking judges as “enemies of the people” and calling on the government to “crush the saboteurs” who support Britain in Europe. The Sun attacked the Spanish with an “Up Yours Delors!” splash over Gibraltar.
“I was right, Tony? When I tried to get you to do this ten years ago I was right. But you didn’t do it because you were too close to them. We were too close to them,” Campbell said.
Blair, Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, admitted: “We did get close. We got close because we’d been absolutely savaged by the media in the 80s and early 90s.”
Emphasising the power he felt the media still had, he added: “When you go and fight them – when you’re in my position, not in your position – it’s a full on fight, cause these people come at you with everything they’ve got. They’re like a mafia.”
Picture courtesy of Youtube
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