Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Published by Basil Blackwell
ISBN 13: 978-1-910692-27-1

The Election A to ZFor his fifth general election book, Nicholas Jones presents a personal A-Z of election highlights and insights from fifty years of political reporting.

In his A-Z he draws on his experiences of reporting a dozen general elections. He offers a selection of untold stories and commentaries on political intrigues and changing political fortunes, from the Wilson and Callaghan era, through the Thatcher decade, the Premierships of John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and on to the unprecedented post-war coalition government led by David Cameron.

Strikes and the Media Communication in Conflict Author Nicholas Jones Published by Basil Blackwell 1986 ISBN 0-631-14697-0

A revolution has been taking place in the way communication operates within modern British industry. No journalist has followed the revolution more closely than Nicholas Jones whose regular reports for BBC Radio 4 have provided consistently lucid and balanced analysis.  In Strikes and the Media he examines the way the media are used by all sides in industrial disputes, and how their involvement in turn affects the course of events. The attitudes and behaviour of journalists have often been blamed for exacerbating already tense situations.

The 1984-5 miners' strike both witnessed the refinement of techniques used in previous disputes, and highlighted the paradoxical position of media coverage of strikes.  Arthur Scargill poured scorn on "this bunch of piranha fish", but showed extraordinary dexterity in using them to put across his message, while the National Coal Board used well-oiled public relations machinery and the government exerted behind-the-scenes pressure to add their own manipulation of the media. The tactics adopted are laid bare here, and their effectiveness (or otherwise) assessed.

Strikes and the Media shows clearly for the first time how far the battles of industry have moved away from the factory floor, the mass meeting and the negotiating table to the propaganda war in newspapers columns and TV news programmes.  It is a working journalist's report from the front line.

Election 92 Author Nicholas Jones BBC Books 1992 ISBN 0-563-36124-7

BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones kept a daily diary while following the 1992 general election campaign. Election 92 is his inside account of what went on behind the scenes between 11 March and 10 April, in a campaign whose outcome shook Britain. 

Jones examines the pressures which built up inside the Conservative Party headquarters as the opinion polls suggested a Labour lead or a hung parliament. He shows how - despite his repeated expressions of confidence - John Major was unsettled by criticism of the Tory campaign. And he investigates clandestine moves to stiffen the resolve of the Tory press, revealing how reporters rounded on a cabinet minister declaring Tory campaign strategy a shambles.

The Labour Party paid a heavy price for their glitzy, triumphalist - and much televised - campaign. Nicholas Jones shrewdly analyses the mistakes that cost them dear and explains how Neil Kinnock's faith in the opinion polls led to some tactical errors.  He shows, too, how Paddy Ashdown's steadfast refusal to use negative campaign tactics - particularly during the "saga of Jennifer's ear" - won him public admiration but lost him vital news coverage.

As John Major eventually discovered, when it comes to winning elections, there is no substitute for political passion. He became a street fighter, campaigning from a soapbox and discarding the cosy image of "Citizen John Major" so carefully crafted by Tory media planners.  But Jones concludes that it was not John Major but the inexorable machine of the Thatcher revolution which lost Neil Kinnock the election. It was a revolution which swept aside Kinnock's personal crusade to revive Labour's fortunes and inevitably claimed him as its final victim.

Soundbites and Spin Doctors Author Nicholas Jones Published by Cassell 1995 (hardback) ISBN 0-304-34542-3 Indigo (paperback)  1996 ISBN 0-575-40052-8

In Soundbites and Spin Doctors BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones draws on his extensive personal experience to analyse how politicians use the media and vice versa. What motivates each side and which has more to gain and to lose? 

The relationship between British politicians and the news media is ambivalent. Politicians are quick to complain about media distortion and intrusion, and as quick to offer themselves to media exposure when it is in their interests to do so.  And the media affect indignation at any suggestion of "setting up" politicians while continually trying to lure politicians into the careless phrase or indiscretion which will trigger a news story.

The staple elements of reporting have become the soundbite - the short, pithy statement encapsulating a political position or reaction - and the photo-opportunity, the photographic session contrived to make a statement: John Selwyn Gummer feeding a British-beef hamburger to his daughter, David Mellor posing with his family as a sex scandal reverberates around him.

Campaign 1997 Author Nicholas Jones Published by Indigo 1997 ISBN 0-575-40116-8

Incisive, revealing and funny, Campaign 1997 describes the cut and thrust of political street-fighting through the most intense general election in living memory.  Veteran BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones, whose book Soundbites and Spin Doctors was described by Anthony Howard as "an essential primer for all who want to understand the strange no man's land between politicians and journalists", chronicles the political media machine cranking up to full steam as the election approached and gives a doorstepper's-eye view of a campaign which, whatever the outcome, was always going to represent a watershed in British politics.

From the day the Conservative Party grafted those demonic devil eyes on to Tony Blair's grinning face when unleashing its controversial "New Labour, New Danger" campaign, to the day when Labour Party workers were instructed to stage "a spontaneous outpouring from offices and factories" to greet the new Prime Minister, the 1997 general election was fought as much by the spin doctors as by the politicians.