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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Ticking the box of our own self-interest

In all the analysis of the surprise and shock of yesterday's election result, three key influences to do with the process rather than the content of contemporary elections stand out:

First, polling is a distraction from the reality of what is occurring. Polling has provided the media with their primary source of news and debate throughout the election and, as a result, much of that debate and discussion has proved wholly irrelevant to the outcome. Lynton Crosby, who masterminded the Conservative's victory, has been quoted as saying, 'Ignore most of the opinion polls that you see in the newspapers, because they are so simplistic.' This proved true for Labour who were 'given false comfort by the national opinion polls showing the party neck and neck.'

Second, Crosby's strategy of negative campaigning, which is based on the politics of fear, has proved once again to be successful. In this case the fear was of 'the influence the SNP might hold over a minority Miliband government'; a fear which is a essentially unfounded but which, 'with typical shrewdness and ruthlessness, Crosby identified ... as a wedge that could be used against Labour, both in Scotland and in England.' Crosby has stated that, 'At its absolute simplest, a campaign is simply finding out who will decide the outcome … where are they, what matters to them, and how do you reach them?' (Andy Beckett). No-one has been more effective than Crosby at focusing on this simple truth.

Third, the continuing power of the predominantly right-wing press has been demonstrated. 'When Murdoch appeared before the Leveson inquiry he argued that the Sun’s “won it” headline had been “tasteless and wrong”, adding: “We don’t have that sort of power.” The election of 2015 might just prove him wrong.' The 'campaigning coverage of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun and the Times, Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail and the Barclay brothers’ Telegraph titles has been a marked feature of this campaign ... the Sun, Murdoch’s biggest-selling title, was more virulently anti-Labour in this campaign than it was in the runup to the 1992 election when Neil Kinnock was depicted in a lightbulb on polling day.' 'With a party now in power whose only manifesto pledge on the media was to freeze the BBC’s licence fee, Murdoch and his UK executives can rest easy that they can do business again. Calls for a Leveson-approved press regulator are likely to diminish.' 'It is likely that whoever replaces Miliband as Labour leader will be even more wary of threatening Murdoch or any other press baron with increased regulation and the breakup of their empires.' (Jane Martinson)

Giles Fraser, as often, is both clear and honest in his reaction:

'Right now I feel ashamed to be English. Ashamed to belong to a country that has clearly identified itself as insular, self-absorbed and apparently caring so little for the most vulnerable people among us. Why did a million people visiting food banks make such a minimal difference? Did we just vote for our own narrow concerns and sod the rest? Maybe that’s why the pollsters got it so badly wrong: we are not so much a nation of shy voters as of ashamed voters, people who want to present to the nice polling man as socially inclusive, but who, in the privacy of the booth, tick the box of our own self-interest.'


Patti Smith - After The Gold Rush.

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