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Title: The British government, the newspapers and the German problem 1937-1939
Author: Meznar, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0001 3396 6862
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2005
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British newspaper attitudes towards Neville Chamberlain's `appeasement' of Nazi Germany have long attracted historical criticism; and in the now-orthodox interpretation of Richard Cockett's Twilight of Truth (1989), the government is said to have exerted such influence, even `control', over newspapers that criticism of its foreign policy was effectively suppressed, and freedom of the press subverted. This thesis reassesses government-newspaper relations from 1937 to the end of appeasement in 1939. It argues that while government did seek to influence newspaper comment, this was hardly a new development; and if new in intensity, this was a reaction to the greater interwar political independence of newspapers. While making full use of government records and private papers, in contrast to Cockett's work the thesis also pays close attention to actual newspaper content. Newspapers with different political stances and forms of ownership are examined, from the `establishment' Times, the Conservative Daily Telegraph, the main Beaverbrook newspapers, The Yorkshire Post and Manchester Guardian as examples of provincial papers, the Liberal News Chronicle, to the main Labour opposition paper, The Daily Herald. It is argued that newspaper independence remained strong, and `press freedom' continued to be jealously guarded. Papers which supported government policy did so for their own long-established reasons; others were constrained by their inconsistent foreign-policy stances, or at dangerous periods (especially the Czechoslovakian crisis) temporarily moderated their criticism from a sense of national responsibility, not because of government pressure; and other newspapers remained persistently critical. Government efforts to influence the press had very limited and sporadic success. Moreover, not only did all major newspapers continue to report the views of antiappeasers; tellingly, these anti-appeasers made no substantial complaints of government suppression of alternative views. Government-newspaper relations in the late 1930s were more complex and subtle than recent accounts have suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available