Media 108: why did IPSO, the press regulator, withhold the truth from voters?
Land for the Many – a report presented to the Labour Party – raised what co-author George Monbiot has called a ‘storm of lies’ in the ‘billionaire press’.
After five months delay, the press regulator, Ipso, ruled against the Mail on Sunday’s false claim published under this headline: Corbyn’s ‘war on homeowners’: Proposal to grab more inheritances and tax increases in family house values. But the Mail on Sunday has asked for a review of the decision, delaying its publication, until after the election.
Though the report rejected the idea, the Mail on Sunday stated that it had proposed to levy a capital gains tax on the proceeds of the sale of a person’s house. The article quoted Boris Johnson, who claimed “this mad ‘tax on all your houses’ would cripple every Brit who owns or wants to own their own home” and the false claim was picked up on social media by other senior Conservatives.
The claim has also been used repeatedly in the party’s campaign materials, websites and Facebook pages. It was reproduced by most of the other billionaire papers and continues to be circulated.
Monbiot calls the ruling ‘a rare victory against the billionaire press’ but adds that it would count for nothing if buried until the election is over.
He comments: “Anyone who wants a better world finds themselves at war with the exceedingly rich people who own the media and the editors and journalists they employ. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the wallet is mightier than the pen. News is the propaganda of the oligarch. Are we prepared to allow the proprietors of the newspapers, many of whom live offshore, to determine the course of our politics?” And ends:
“Futile as it often seems, one-sided as the war between truth and falsehood always is, we must fight the tide of lies. Don’t let them win this week”.