A Colour-Coded Guide to the Subversion of Democracy

Right-click and select “open image in new tab” to see an enlarged version of the mind map with a zoom function

The corporate media have finally caught up with the lies and cronyism of Boris Johnson’s government. Our mindmap may help you understand why they’ve been so reluctant to cover the scandals. Does democracy function in any meaningful way when politics, business and media are as intertwined as this?

When looking at the mindmap remember:

  • The role of the media in a democracy is to scrutinize the powerful – it must be “a profession, a trade… that exists independently of the other main centres of power in society.” (Alan Rusbridger, ex-Guardian editor)
  • Politics and business should also exist independently of the other – with full transparency in any dealings – lest politics becomes “the shadow cast on society by big business” (John Dewey)

How the Mindmap Works

  • Politicians are Tory blue, businesspeople are cash nexus green and journalists are tabloid red
  • The links drawn between any two individuals indicate their relationship – e.g. family member, friend, colleague, employer, donor
  • We have only mapped relationships so significant they are in the public domain via news stories, interviews, etc. Many further connections could be made on the mindmap (how many other individuals on the map do you think Dominic Cummings or Boris Johnson have in their rolodex, for example?)
  • Many (arguably most) of the individuals are also active in one or both of the other two fields. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were once journalists. George Osborne is the ultimate “Matrix man” – journalist turned politician turned businessman turned Evening Standard editor turned businessman again! This is known as the revolving door and the threat it poses to democracy has recently been illustrated by the David Cameron and Lex Greensill lobbying scandal. Involvement in other spheres is indicated in the comments around an individual’s bubble.
  • Greensill is one of eight billionaires on the mindmap. We have flagged them specifically to highlight the level of access the super wealthy have to government
  • Four of the eight billionaires own major media outlets. This goes beyond “revolving door” and is a structural subversion of democracy (reinforced by the personal relationships figures like Rupert Murdoch and their underlings form with those in government or their former employees like Michael Gove).

What Does the Mindmap Show?

We will leave that for you to decide. Perhaps it shows nothing at all.

A couple of brief observations we’d make:

  • There is A LOT OF RED on this mind map. While Tory cronyism/lobbying scandals highlight the relationship between money and government, which comes to light from time to time, there is (as usual) next to no discussion of the media role in promoting then protecting Johnson. After all, who is going to write about it…those self-same journalists?
  • Not only could someone “in the know” draw many more links between the individuals on the map, we could have infinitely extended it – and Labour would not be exempt. Peter Mandelson was on Oleg Deripaska’s yacht with George Osborne. Tony Blair is godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter. Some refer to this as the Establishment; we like to call it “The Matrix” – a web of connections, structural and personal, that act to sideline the public and leave decisions in the hands of an interconnected, self-interested elite
  • For further exploration you may wish to check out Sophie E. Hill’s My Little Crony, an interactive map of the dubious interconnections associated with coronavirus contracts. If anyone has the digital skills to transform our mind map into something equally hi-tech please get in touch!

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