Latest Issue

Who are the masters now?

Elite led representative democracy is giving way to a media driven plebiscitary democracy. Britain's conversation with itself has become more open but less considered. The politicians are set to rebel against the constraints of the new populism

By David Goodhart   May 1997

The British election campaign has been, so far, an oddly muted affair. One of the loudest background noises has been a nagging complaint about “dumbing down,” about the shrinkage of debate, about the tyranny of the soundbite-a nostalgia for a slower, more reflective, political culture. Part of the complaint is justified and part of the explanation is familiar enough: the growth in the power and aggression of the mass media in most western countries.

This was summed up in the New Yorker a few months ago by Adam Gopnik. He compared the deferential press treatment of the Roosevelts in the…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect