Friday, April 23, 2010

Election observations

There's so much good commentary around on the election, thanks to the fact that the 'sphere has matured somewhat since 2005 and it's less a playground for people who understand interactive tools and more one that interactive people (a very different group?) use.

I've been unusually busy lately, so I've been beaten to the punch with most things I've wanted to say, so here are a few random comments that I've not seen anyone else making:

A change in the status of politics: I think that, for a sonnenkind like David Cameron, being leader of the opposition may not prove to be the pinnacle of his career. Perhaps even being the PM may not tick that box for him either. For Blair, he probably didn't see leaving No10 as the end of his career (I'm sure it will almost destroy Brown...)

I've observed before that the people at the top of the BBC will probably be being paid more by CNN in five years time and that has a huge impact on the long-termism (or current lack of it) at the top of the BBC. If Cameron fails to win election, it's hard to see where the Tories can go. But would that be the end of the world for him?

Are the Tories suffering from a lack of the kind of conviction that comes with real personal investment at the top of their party? Did they pick a bobby-dazzler a few years ago and are they going to repent at leisure? Are the British public about to do the same with little Nick Clegg? And is this going to change politics for the better or the worst?

Hindsight is a great thing isn't it? Surely we all saw that the Tories weren't on a winner going into an election with the promise of nasty medicine? I mean, I wondered if it would hurt them, but it really has, hasn't it? The bookies should be paying out already to Tory punters, given the state of the economy and Brown's lack of charisma. Why did they do this?

I wonder if the rise of social media has created more self-reinforcing communities? Where they were isolated in the past (take crude market-libertarians as a case in point) they appeared to be exactly what they are: A bunch of isolated fruitcakes with a faith-based one-size-fits-all solution to every problem. But now they have a echo chamber, and it's one with enough gravitational pull to affect the Tory party. They actually thought that the public would buy their shrill obsessions about big government, and they did that because those obsessions have been ringing more loudly in their ears than they used to.

I hope this isn't too partisan a point, but for the most part, left and Labour-leaning bloggers are a fairly diverse, pragmatic and frank lot. Labour's (or indeed the wider left's) online noisemakers are rarely doctrinare or slavish in their partisanship. There is a difference in the quality and diversity between left and right bloggers, and there's no question that the 'sphere has a significant influence in the conversations that dominate the parties.

I genuinely think that Labour's conversations are more useful to Labour than the Tories ones - indeed, I did make this point a few years ago when everyone was banging on about how much better the Tories were at this sort of thing. In the 1980s, Labour had the kind of echo-chamber that the Tories have now. we were glad to be rid of it. Maybe the Tories will too?

One other blessing: The Tories have been using deniable outriders from the blogosphere for a few years now. Either the Tax Payers Alliance of Guido, for example, have tried to make the weather for the Tories in different ways. Has this tactic become more universal and recognisable? Has it made the public more attuned to it? Will it blunt the trauma that Tory newspapers are trying to inflict on Nick Clegg?

On the subject of hindsight.... surely we should have all seen that the Tories pitched their tent on ground that the Lib-Dems could have snatched effortlessly from them? Taking the centre-ground and 'being the party of change'?

Lastly, I find it every interesting to see the ambivalence that a lot of Labour-loyalist bloggers have about the rise of young Clegg. There is a possibility that we will be knocked into third place, under the 30% mark. It will certainly hurt the Labour Party. But will it further the centre-left's most important mission of permanently neutralising the Tory party?

More on this one later maybe?

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