General elections appear to have become a bi-annual tradition, and as is customary this edition of Three-D focusses on election issues of concern to MeCCSA members. We have two features reviewing party manifestoes – Julian McDougall looks at HE policy, whilst Natalie Fenton scrutinises pledges on media reform. We also have a range of features analysing media coverage of the campaign, which has been marred by mutual distrust and open hostility between journalists and politicians. The volume of negative coverage of Corbyn and Labour has been extraordinary, and the issues largely driven by a Conservative agenda, as several of our contributors highlight. The Brexit chums, Gove and Johnson, have fully embraced what Tracy Keeling aptly named “Anglicised Trumpism”. Exemplified by Michael Gove’s sinister dismissal of Channel 4 reporter Ciaran Jenkins’s questions on the Tory claim to build 40 new hospitals, or Boris Johnson pocketing ITV News reporter Joe Pike’s phone after refusing to look at a photo of a child sleeping on an NHS hospital floor – it demonstrates a cavalier sense of entitlement and a brazen disregard for the role of news media in democratic societies. Against this backdrop, questions lurk about what is not in the manifestoes too, and how implicit threats of (de)regulation is used in an attempt to coerce public service media in particular. Conservative sources reportedly threatened to review Channel 4’s remit after the channel responded to Johnson’s refusal to participate in a party leader debate on climate change by putting a melting ice sculpture in his place (Gove being turned away in reception in a attention distraction stunt). In the final days of the campaign, Johnson made impromptu rally remarks that the BBC licence fee is outdated, which he rationalised “given the way other organisations manage to fund themselves” – which sounds ominously like free market forces rather than a new progressive funding model to protect public service ideals.
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