The ‘battle of the thumbs’ …


This GE is becoming more odd as time goes on. It’s not about Brexit, even though the DM is now labelling it the ‘Brexmas election’, ho ho ho. The MSM reports show that they are already tired of having to churn out daily stuff on domestic ‘GE policies’ which nobody seems to be interested in while the polling organisations are in similar desperate straits: their daily dose of measuring ‘the mood of the nation’ has turned into a breathless, continuous screech which nobody takes seriously any longer.

In the good old days in a country long ago, a GE was the time when wannabe MPs were touring their constituency, speaking in church halls and schools to their electorate. This was called ‘hustings’ and was of local interest only. They had to kiss babies in the local markets and they actually went canvassing door-to-door. Photos appeared only in the local rag – yes, children, there were local newspapers in those days – but the nation generally was spared such inanities.

Now, normal people with normal lives to lead are switching off, suffering already from political overload. So what if Johnson said triumphantly (e.g. here) that all his PPCs have pledged to back his BRINO! Big deal! It was only a few months ago, after all, not a couple of years, when his fabulous cabinet MPs all ‘pledged’ to back Brexit and then didn’t, even unto leaving cabinet and Party. Amber Rudd ring any bells? 

When asked, Corbyn didn’t answer Mr Marr five times on telly if his Labour government would stay in the EU (e.g. here). It doesn’t take a political genius to predict that yes, under Corbyn we will stay: apparently his manifesto will support the EU’s Free Movement while scrapping our nuclear defence, in accordance with the wishes of the SNP.

Poor Ms Swinson’s Yellow Remain Party is plunging in the polls but she still defends her aim to become PM on Dec 12th (e.g. here). Has nobody tol her that it’s no longer about Brexit? The only news about TBP is that the Tories deny they did anything as dastardly as trying to bribe some of their PPCs (here). Obviously, this being the “Brexmas” election, TBP is soo yesterday …!

Meanwhile the Polling Guru John Curtice is telling the nation (see this link, paywalled) that this election is hard to predict because there are so many ‘don’t know’ voters, most of whom a wimminz (‘does my bum look big in Labour?’) –  the burning question being if these ‘don’t know’ women will give their vote to Corbyn. Reassuringly, we learn that this is also hard to predict: ‘don’t know’ is the answer.

What else … oh: Johnson looked particularly fetching in  a kerchief covering his head as he visited a Sikh temple. He also promised to cut some business taxes to make up for all that ‘Brexit uncertainty’ (e.g. link, paywalled) while Corbyn told the nation to wait for his promises until Labour has voted on what all will be in their manifesto. I’m sure we remember what the paper is worth on which such manifestos are printed!

There was one report which I found interesting – not because the Greens will be given an unintended boost by Labour but because it illustrates how such manifesto policies are cooked up. Thanks to our beloved ‘sources’ we read:

“Labour has shelved a target for the UK to become carbon neutral by 2030 after caving to union barons over the flagship environmental pledge. The Telegraph has been told that Labour’s manifesto does not commit to a hard deadline but instead promises to make “substantial progress” towards reaching net-zero emissions within a decade.” (paywalled link)

So far so ‘normal’, one might think. Here is where it becomes interesting, for two reasons. The first one:

“However, the policy is understood to have been revised again on Saturday, after one of Labour’s biggest trade union backers demanded that changes be made to the document. It came as Mr Corbyn on Sunday evening deleted a social media post, published earlier in the day, which stated that the UK would be “carbon neutral by 2030 only with Labour.” The post is believed to have been deleted after Mr Corbyn’s office was contacted by a reporter.” (paywalled link)

‘Policy by twitter’: delete when someone asks an inconvenient question. How very reassuring! But this next bit is even more indicative of how the establishment parties are going about to give us plebs what they think we want, knowing full well that nobody will take them to task should they win the GE and then not deliver:

“According to sources […] the general secretary of GMB demanded that the wording be downgraded from “overwhelming progress” to “substantial”. (paywalled link)

A nice Labour policy – until a Trade Union disagrees. But it’s not the whole inane policy which gets scrapped – it’s only the wording which gets changed. Us peasants are too stupid, they think, to note the fine, lawyerly difference! 

This brings me to how policies are being ‘made’ in this GE and by whom. The Times has dedicated three (!) articles to this aspect. There’s this Aussie who runs the whole Tory shebang, and there are those two Kiwi Kids who are ‘doing’ the social media campaign. This is the ‘battleground’ where politics nowadays take place:

“In CCHQ Mr Topham and Mr Guerin sit on the central pod and report directly to Mr Levido. They and their ten-strong team are distinguished by their hoodies […]. Their team is frenetic, pumping out more than 40 pieces of unique online content every day, including videos, posters, graphics and slogans. Their posts are produced at pace, and are often rough and ready, applying an “80/20” rule — if it’s 80 per cent right, it goes out regardless of whether there are typos or spelling errors. Speed and variety are prized.” (link, paywalled)

Pods? Hoodies? Crikey! Just be speedy, innit, and never mind the content … The Tories are doing this because they regard themselves as underdogs:

“We are starting from a point at which we are way behind Labour,” a senior campaign source admitted. “The amplification they get through Momentum and their supporters is huge. So we have to do things differently.” In a speech this year, Mr Guerin said that their aim was to win the “battle of the thumbs”. “Our challenge is when you’ve got 1.7 seconds, what on earth do we do with that time,” (link, paywalled)

When I have 1,7 seconds, I usually breathe … If you think this is insane, you’re right, especially when The Times informs us that all those whizzkids are already being stressed out because they’ve gotta be ‘at it’ from, like, the middle of the night:

“Mr Levido [Aussie election Head honcho for the Tories] has ramped things up a notch for this campaign. The first daily campaign meeting now starts at 5.40am, not 7am. But why stop there? Surely, the next step is to push on through. Sleep is for wimps.” (link, paywalled)

So why do they do it? Because, as any reader knows, online MSM are breathlessly ‘reporting’ tweets on whatever subject, to look up-to-date, giving more weight to a single online eruption than to proper analysis. Moreover, on Tuesday there’s this TV debate between Johnson and Corbyn, and:

“social media can turn moments that were missed at the time into seminal events the next day. Recent debate history suggests that Mr Corbyn will adopt his PMQs strategy of prioritising Facebook clips over vanquishing his opponent in the chamber. Groups such as Momentum are amazing amplifiers of the Labour message. Not that the Tories are entirely bereft of tricks. Chances are they will repeat their tactic of “uglifying” their social media content (just Google “comic sans tweet”) in an effort to boost virality.” (link, paywalled)

The political content of the debate is irrelevant. Spin doctors, telling hacks what their Leader actually said and how to report it, are now obsolete. It’s the hordes of whizzkids who are determining if that debate was ‘a success’ – tweeting like demented hamsters during the ongoing debate, hoping to get ‘the’ tweet that gets the headline,  

These TV debates have now evolved into the political equivalent of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ where an election can be lost not because of a political gaffe but because the tie looks horrid and the make-up wasn’t right: it said so on Twitter!

Oh yes – that ‘dead cat’ which has now become the favourite political strategy? There will be hordes of them come Wednesday morning, to divert our attention from what was actually said.

It’s this ‘battle of the thumbs’, with Generation Smartphone glued to their little screens, which apparently will decide this GE. Actual policies are irrelevant. Brexit? Nah – forget about it, that’s too old-fashioned …

Well, it’s up to us to make all those kiddies realise that in this non-virtual world out here it’s us who count, not their thumbs.






Photo by clasesdeperiodismo

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