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The New Media are having a profound effect on this general election (but Iain Dale can’t see it)

Ian Dale writes that the internet and all that is having very little effect on this general election. I’m sure we can all see what he means. The politicians strut about emitting their parallel universe proclamations, while the rest of us stolidly refuse to be impressed as we sit about wondering just which big party and big party leader we loathe and despise the least, so that we can humiliate most of them, instead of what we would really like to do.

But in another sense, a negative sense, I think that the internet is already having a very profound effect on this campaign. Put it like this. The good thing about blogs and facebook and twitter and all that is that we can speak our minds. We tell it not necessarily like it is exactly, but how we truly reckon it is at the time or writing. The big cheese politicians? Like I say: parallel universe of staged dishonesty.

Trying to combine doing regular politics with joining in the New Media hubbub means either being ignored as a useless bore, or getting into trouble, for saying something honest and eloquent but verboten. The two just don’t mix. Remember that scene in that great regular politics movie The Candidate, starring Robert Redford, where the Redford character tries telling the truth (as he happens to see it) at a campaign event. His handler just tells him to do up his trouser buttons, grow up, and campaign properly, i.e. go back to emitting the correct barrages of staged dishonesty. As far as the old pro regular politician is concerned, telling it like it is, like you are blogging or twittering or something, is just waving your willy about like a stupid little kid. Honesty didn’t work then for regular politicians, and it doesn’t work now.

But the difference is that the rest of us can now do honesty, and consume honesty. We now have honesty. For several years now we’ve been waving our willies about and having a ball. It’s just that the regular politicians can’t join in without making asses of themselves.

So, one: rise of the New Media. And, two: a general election in which almost nobody looks like they’re going to be happy. None of the politicians, with the possible exception of The Clegg, and none of the voters. Nobody is going to “seal the deal”. It used to be that someone did. Now, we seem to hate them all.

No effect? I think not. I know exactly what Iain Dale means. The New Media aren’t contributing anything positive to regular politics. The New Media aren’t helping regular politicians to canvass, get out the vote, assemble people to mass meetings and get them all excited about their preferred version of regular politics. The New Media aren’t helping to spread barrages of lies, and then cheering like lunatics. They (we) are merely standing at the back muttering to each other that it’s all lies. But just because the New Media are doing nothing positive for regular politics doesn’t mean they’re having no effect on regular politics.

Iain Dale is nearly there when he describes the internet this time around as “the dog that didn’t bark”. But the fact that the dog isn’t barking is highly significant, as Sherlock Holmes himself pointed out in the original story. The New Media dog, from where Iain Dale stands, is doing nothing, and that is what is so interesting.

13 comments to The New Media are having a profound effect on this general election (but Iain Dale can’t see it)

  • Paul Marks

    The “new media” is playing an important role – but not one that Mr Iain Dale understands.

    It is not a matter of “the conversation on the internet is leading people to vote for X party” (which is the way Mr Dale thinks) it is that the conversation on the internet is offering information and opinions showing that all the major poltical party leaderships (the leaderships that will form the next government) have no idea either about what the causes of the current crises are (and so have no idea about correct policy responses) and have no understanding of the principles of private property and freedom generally.

    Of course neither does Mr Dale – for example he thinks that “anti discrimination” trumps freedom, so that (for example) if someone does not want a homosexual (such as Mr Dale) into their hotel they should be FORCED to admit them by threat of violence (the police, courts, prison …..). For the record if someone did not want a short, bald, person with a Jewish family name in their hotel I do not believe they should be forced to admit them.

    As for the economy – the supposed difference between the major political groups on government spending (on which their is so much sound and fury in the newspapers and on television and radio) is so small that it is basically a rounding error.

    In short that the debate in the “mainstream” media is a SHAM – a discussion about nothing.

    All the major political groups are agreed that that “the banks must start lending again” – in short they do not understand that the expansion of credit-money (the banks backed up by the Central Banks such as the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve) caused the present crises and a ” hair of the dog” response will just make the eventual (and INEVITABLE) breakdown even worse.

    Also all the major political groups are convinced that “lack of regulation” (or lack of enforcement) caused the crises and that more regulation (or better enforcement of existing regulations) is the correct response.

    In this they follow the error of the “mainstream” media (Time, Newsweek, the Financial Times, the Economist…..) of ignoring the vast amount of (harmful) national and INTERNATIONAL (Basel II) regulation that already exists – and, indeed, they all want to add to the problem.

    For example the Conservative party (of which I have been an active member for 30 years) leadership not only does not stand for national independence against want-to-be world governmentism (such as Basel II) it actually wants more of it.

    Almost needless to say none of the major political parties wish to restore British independence from the E.U. either.


    To some extent it shares the errors of the major political parties – for example some of its leading people want to “get the banks lending again” and so on.

    However, the “new media” has also made a judgement (I think a correct judgement) that UKIP stands no real chance at this general election (for various reasons).

    So the major political party leaderships are useless (actually worse than useless) and the alternative is only partly an alternative – and is not really viable at this time.

    In short the election is a waste of time – it will solve nothing.

    This seems to be the judgement of the conversation that is the “new media” and it explains why the conversation is not conducted in the “vote for X” terms that Mr Dale understands.

  • I think the simple cluelessness of our elected representatives and government is becoming more obvious, and the internet and/or new media is a big part of this. I think up until now a lot of people at least believed that the country was run by intelligent and relatively capable people who had some idea what they were doing. The reality is that three people chosen randomly in my local chippy would probably do a better job than those in charge, and this is now much more difficult to hide. The effect of this on politics is profound, but I am not completely sure what it is yet.

  • BFFB

    Speaking of media, I see we’ve had our first embarassing gaff of the election.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Jennings – you may have been using wild language (or you may not have been), but you are litterally correct.

    People chosen at random from the local chip shop (or whereever) would indeed be better than the current political (and media and academic) elite.

    This is because these people would say (for example) “oh no, the government I am now in charge of is vastly in debt and can not pay the bills – we must reduce government spending”.

    Whereas the political. media and academic elite (and some top business class people also) have been carefully educated in such doctrines as “when the economy is in trouble the government must spend more money as STIMULUS” and “if people are short of money the government must produce more money – it must increase the money supply”.

    Such believes seem crackbrained – because they are crackbrained, but that does not mean that the elite do not sincerely believe in such doctrines (Mr Brown is saying what he honestly believes – that he has been taught to believe).


    For example the 800 billion Dollar (plus) “stimulus” spending in the United States is held by the vast majority or Americans (over 75%) to be a terrible waste of money.

    However, the Economist magazine (and so on) still support it – and support it honestly.

    “The economy needed stimulus” – and “stimulus” means wild government spending (spending so much that you could pile the money up and reach the Moon) financed by government just creating the money (via the Federal Reserve) lending it out to banks and then borrowing the money back (at a higher rate of interest).

    To the person “down the chip shop” this (every step in the process – and the result) seems insane – BECAUSE IT IS INSANE.

    However, the elite believe in all of it – honestly and sincerely believe in all of it.

    When I suspect that some of the elite do not believe in all of it – that (on the contrary) that some of the elite are following Pierro Straffa and Maurice Dobb ideas from half a century ago (i.e. they know Keynesianism is damaging and support it BECAUSE they it is damaging to civil society – “capitalism”) and are following the “spend the system to breakdown” doctrine of Cloward and Piven.

    But that sort of belief of mine gets me called paranoid.

    And certainly I accept that Mr Brown is quite sincere – even if I believe (and I do believe) that Mr Obama is laughing at all of this as he does it.

  • Paul Marks

    It must be remembered that highly intelligent and educated people can believe (and believe honestly and sincerely) doctrines that are quite crackbrained.

    Take a man who has almost bled to death on the field of battle (not so many centuries ago) – taken to a (highly intelligent and educated) doctor (as opposed to a normal camp follower) the words that would be spoken (most likely in Latin) would be as follows.

    “We must bleed him”.

    This is only one false doctrine among many (many that would not occur to the ordinary person – had not undergone a long and difficult process of education). Even in the 19th century being taken to a doctor was sometimes a very bad move indeed – and not because of any lack of intelligence and education on the part of the doctor. Indeed the doctor would do things that would never occur to an unitelligent and uneducated person – things that would kill the person he was dealing with (as they were based on complicated doctrines that had been thought out by many highly intelligent people – doctrines that were not only wrong, but also highly damaging).

    So it is not such a great stretch to have the belief that the way to deal with an economy that has been wreaked by wild spending and credit money expansion is to have MORE wild spending and credit money expansion.

    Indeed it is less hard to believe – as (for a little while) the economy may actually improve with more wild spending and credit money expansion.

  • Indeed. Our job is to ‘contribute’ to politics in the sense that pissing on something ‘contributes’ to the aroma…

    Our job is to point out not so much the virtues or vices of this or that party but rather comment on the moral, intellectual and even practical bankruptcy of the entire political charade and in so doing encourage the politics of anti-politics.

  • Steven Groeneveld

    Even in the 19th century being taken to a doctor was sometimes a very bad move indeed

    That is still true in the 21st century, Paul. We are forever warned against the evils of salt, cholestrol, extra weight, in spite of real evidence that fat people, on balance, live longer and too little salt will kill you. There are still events causing doctors to go on strike, and when they do, the death rate (not so) mysteriously drops. There are superbugs lurking in hospitals and the almost universal ban on chemicals that can kill them means going to a hospital becomes the most dangerous thing you can do.

    The myths that otherwise intelligent people always seem to pursue seem to be remarkably persistent.

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    I generally have tended to go with the theory that how long you live is largely genetics and if people tend to live a long time in your family so will you – obvious environmental factors such as having a luther burger everyday aside.

  • I’ve long been in favour of choosing political representatives at random out of the phone book. 3 year term, no repeats. Pay is twice what your income tax return showed for previous 3 years. Public service to have 25% rollover chosen at random each year(prevents an entrenched public service from really running the place).

  • DBC Reed

    Actually the game changer in this election was old-media : the formal debate in front of a large number of voters watching on television.
    I’ve never found anything on the new media,specifically the Net,really as interesting as what’s found in dusty hard backed books. I won’t mention who by : I will only be denounced, but that itself is tribute to the oldest medium.

  • Jedibeeftrix

    Thanks, very interesting.