Mike Darcey: Newspapers Will Play a Dominant Role in Election

News UK chief executive Mike Darcey has outlined why he believes newspapers will play a dominant role in shaping the outcome of this year’s general election

In a piece for Press Gazette, Mr Darcey said a free press was a critical part of the election process adding that without it “the choices would be less stark, fault-lines blurred, reputations glossed over, outcomes disputed.”

Mr Darcey continued: “Without The Sun, Andrew Mitchell might still be among the political officer class, denying he ever dismissed a man prepared to take a bullet for him as a “pleb”.

“Without the Telegraph, countless political candidates would be masquerading as custodians of the public purse having lined their pockets and duck ponds. We should all be grateful for their exposure of the expenses scandal. And we should all beware of politicians who want to put such journalism at their mercy.”

“I’m comforted by the thought that Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert could soon be turning their forensic skills towards a political target – shifting, perhaps, through the lists of party donors. If they have other plans, there will inevitably be others, because we need to know surely – whose cash is oiling the wheels of our democracy. And where that cash came from.

“The patient, painstaking Insight investigations at The Sunday Times have rightly landed them a cluster of recent gongs. They may not be popular with FIFA or the Qatari authorities but imagine a world where corruption at the core of major global decisions went unchecked.”

Wind back a few months to the Scottish referendum and try to re-play that high stakes contest without the wake-up call provided by The Sunday Times poll four days before the vote. One piece of reliable research from a respected newspaper saw diaries ditched, parliamentary dates abandoned and party differences set-aside to save the union.

“Most of us dread big decisions unless we are properly equipped to take them. And that’s the job of journalism.

Mr Darcey concluded: “I do not dismiss the role of broadcasters. TV will capture the drama, and document what the different parties are up to. Radio coverage will be intelligent, immediate and intimate. Social media will set the pace for claim and counter claim. But far from following on the sidelines, I’ll happily predict now that papers will again prove dominant in setting the agenda, clarifying the choice and shaping the outcome. Rightly so.”