Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The three elections that didn't happen

One of the things this elections shows is that the media is utterly self obsessed and acts as an echo chamber repeating itself so often that it's convinced it must be right. However, there are three clear examples where what the media was telling us clearly never came to pass.

  • The twitter election
This was meant to be the first bloggers' election, but in reality it was not the new media that helped define the election but the old media, TV, and the old style campaigning of leaflets, door knocking and getting party activists out there.

Of all the most excitable memes on twitter 'nickcleggsfault' made absolutely zero impact except to convince Lib Dems that they were heading for a record breaking victory that never happened. It was *fun* but it wasn't effective.

To a certain extent the bigger bloggers are either only talking to convinced politicos already - which is a good audience, but it's a hard one to win over. There was also an element of media bubblery about some of the postings too. Recommending to parties to go door knocking was one memorable instance of hilarity.

These blogs are influential in the long term, and I'm a great fan, but there was no viral video or consistent breaking news coming from the social media election that substantially effected the vote.
  • Clegg-o-mania
Labour was going to come third in the vote and the Lib Dems were on an unstoppable yellow surge remember. Remember? Well, it was a few weeks ago that we were told that this was the Lib Dems' election, but that didn't happen - in fact in London they found themselves decidedly crushed on various councils and moving backwards in seats their leaflets had proudly proclaimed only they could win.

The fact is that Clegg had taken the Lib Dems into a slump in the polls, because he's not a very good leader, and the last minute bump (which did exist) allowed the Lib Dems to climb back to exactly where they were when they had a proper politician in charge. Those were the days.
  • Anti-politics
For more than a year now we've been told that there is a mood of anti-politics where people are rejecting the traditional parties in favour of independent minded dudes and dudettes. However, while there is an interesting shift in public opinion about politicians, the evidence of this election is that quite the reverse took place.

Turnout was up and the vote share of the three main parties together slipped down a fractional 1.4%. It was the fringe right that saw the largest boost to their overall vote, despite not winning seats.

Where were the independents though? Hardly any of note stood at all. Esther Rantzen was the only new one who really impinged on people's consciousness and she didn't even get her deposit back. The most successful new entry was John Stevens in Buckingham who got over 20% of the vote but barely anyone outside of the constituency even knew he was standing.

For information he's an ex-Tory MEP who stood against speaker John Bercow and was ably assisted by a man in a dolphin suit who went by the name 'Flipper the dolphin'. Video evidence. Stevens actually did rather well as he was fighting the well funded campaign of UKIP at the same time forcing them to nosedive into third place.

Of the three existing independent MPs who were defending their seats all polled well but lost out. Hospital campaigner Dr Richard Taylor was defeated by the Tories in Kiddeminster, left-winger Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent was taken down by Labour and right wing Tory splitter Bob Spink lost his seat in Castle Point.


Chris Hyland said...

It seems like perhaps the Lib Dem poll surge after debate consisted partly of people switching from Labour who then promptly switched back to keep out the Torys. Whereas most of the people who switched from the Greens stayed with the Lib Dems in the hope of getting PR.

Dave said...

This election has underscored the importance of good data and good activist bases; the trouble with all these so called new Lib Dems is that the party didn't know who they were and where they lived, nor the activists to chase them up and get them out.

We won our seat in Brighton because we had a bloody large operation, because we focused our entire effort on one seat. Without that GOTV operation though, you're lost. The media don't report this, because (as you can deduce from the fact that they are unanimously of the view that the Lib dems are progressive, something no political activist would ever say) they live in London and don't actually do the footsoldier work of politics.

Of course, you need ideas, you need policies and politicians who seem credible, but all are insufficient; the only necessary aspect is donkey work, which is to say, how it's always been and good thing too. It's also why the fascists struggle to make a breakthough, because their donkey work brings their thugs our from the rocks they hide under.

ON another note, a good outcome of the coalition should be a good performance in the Scottish elections. Two-thirds of our voters there are ex-LDs, and given the hatred of the Tories in Scotland, I can see us having a good time of it on the regional list side of things. Labour-Green coalition possibly? Now we've upped the ante in Westminster, the SGP needs to seize the iniative and get into office :-)