This was meant to be the election that delivered a landslide victory for the Conservative party, that would reassure voters about Brexit, and cement Theresa May’s premiership. It may still turn out that way, of course, though this campaign can hardly be what the Conservatives intended when the Prime Minister called the election; with a disasterous manifesto launch and the Labour Party rapidly narrowing the gap in the polls. May announced at the start of the campaign that she would not take part in televised leadership debates, accepting only to appear alone in front of a studio audience – and in the latter part of the campaign even pulling out of a number of other media performances. Not quite the confident and assured performer that launched with promises of “strong and stable leadership”, when debate shifted from personality to policy.
And policy is very much the focus of this issue of Three-D, with Julian McDougall and Andrew Gunn both dissecting the party manifestos’ starkly different positions on higher education – reviewing policies on tution fees, international students, Brexit and HE.
Media regulation meanwhile was given prominence with the Conservatives’ promise to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act and no longer go ahead with part two of the Leveson Inquiry. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, and the Green Party all support Leveson Two and call for reviews and regulation to ensure much needed media plurality.
As is customary for our election specials, we also have a range of features analysing the role of news media during the election campaign – from grassroots voices to the mainstream – which provides a poignent reminder of the importance of media plurality and accountability. Not just to regulate election reporting, but to protect the normative role we expect news media to play on both local and national level in a healthy democratic soceity.
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