Saturday, June 23, 2007

Where's the detail?

The Treaty Amendment, or EU Constitution as some would have it, was finally agreed at dawn this morning. This meant that it was just in time for the newspapers to pick the story up for the Saturday edition. Looking across the coverage what seems lacking is the detail of the treaty, instead the focus is on the process by which compromises were reached.

The Sun suggests Blair was ready to surrender until forced by Brown; The Telegraph agreed arguing Blair 'caved-in' until Brown insisted on safeguards for Britain. Similarly The Guardian reported that 'a chastened' Blair returned after being told by Brown to 'stand up to the French'. On a more positive tack, The Times argued that Blair largely achieved his aims but was pressured by Brown to compromise while The Mirror, offering the only positive perspective, hailed the safeguards as a victory for Britain. In total contrast The Mail proposed the treaty as a 'threat to British sovereignty'; even the BBC raised doubts allowing the euro-sceptic UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage most airtime during Breakfast News.

So the perspective being offered is that there this was the last Blair-Brown power struggle, that generally the treaty may not be a good thing but, depending on the editorial position, the only evidence presented is one-sided. It has long been argued that the reporting of UK-EU relations has been focused too much on the process as opposed to policy, it is noted as a divisive issue in British politics, and that there is a generally Eurosceptic tone colouring reporting; hence the British tend to be sceptical of all things related to the European Union. The quick review of main news reports offered this morning seems to reinforce these perspectives. Perhaps few would be keen to read much in the way of detail, and to be fair this is offered, however the main news is essentially an editorial selecting the negative and personal aspects as important; independent of attitudes towards the European Union, should there not be more objective information presented by the media?

The other aspect is the way it seems Brown has been able to gain media support from this. Clearly information about 'phone calls' has leaked from the Brown camp, who else would. Thus he has become the saviour of some vestiges of sovereignty. His combination of being anti-Blair and anti-EU in one go was a media management masterstroke and the media acted as his propaganda machine. Bet Brown is feeling quite triumphalist today, just ahead of tomorrow's inauguration!

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