British Politics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 341–364

Representations of economic crisis in contemporary Britain

  • Iain Pirie
Original Article


The manner in which economic crises are represented plays a critical role in determining their political significance and the opportunities for reform that they create. This article analyses the representation of the contemporary crisis in the British print media. A primary crisis narrative focused upon the state's fiscal position was consolidated in the mainstream British press by the end of 2008. Debates on the reform of the financial system were relegated to a secondary position. In the right wing press the crisis effectively came to be portrayed as a product of the Labour government's profligacy, despite a lack of intellectual support for this proposition. In those media outlets more sympathetic to the Labour government the fiscal consequences of the crisis were analysed in isolation from any consideration of the causes of the crisis. The discursive context against which the 2010 general election took place ensured the election of a government with a mandate to focus on fiscal consolidation. The failure of the Labour party to advance a clear analysis of the crisis played an important role in enabling the dominance of Conservative narratives of the crisis focused upon public spending.


financial crisis media government debt 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iain Pirie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics and International StudiesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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