I’m sat on my sofa writing this at half eleven, the night before the general election. The Sun’s front page for election day, with David Cameron mocked up into the iconic Barack Obama image, is flying around Twitter – mostly to disbelief. Bet their sales go up though. It’s almost as if they’ve deliberately chosen an image that’ll provoke howls of online outrage.
So, yes, I’m sat here still not sure who to vote for. Tomorrow should be interesting, historic even. I can’t wait for the drama and the coverage, although I’m less than sure about 98% of the politicians involved.
History be damned. You can’t get through a Prime Ministerial leadership debate without the urge to make the occasional sarcastic comment, and some cheese straws.
Twitter – and social media – can’t provide the latter but it made watching the first of the three leadership debates a lot more entertaining than if I was just sat by myself in front of the TV. And pretty much every big media player devoted airspace and column inches to just that.
And they’re off. We’re now well and truly into electioneering territory as Hobson’s Choice the General Election 2010 rolls well and truly into town. Forget any hope of finding out news that isn’t connected to three middle aged men trying to out-quip each other. It’s everywhere. Including social media. And as a recovering politics geek who spends more time than is healthy on these places, I find it all completely fascinating.
Gosh, there’s nothing like a few well placed words for kicking off a party political crisis. Or, rather, there’s nothing like a slightly weird video that presents the Prime Minister of this country looking like a strange gurning alien for kicking off a party political crisis.
Earlier this week, Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, wrote in the Observer:
“YouTube if you want to. But it’s no substitute for knocking on doors or setting up a stall in the town centre.”
“Would the ‘truth’ surrounding Mr Tomlinson’s death have come to light had it not been sought out by journalists, and then published as the lead story in the Guardian? Perhaps, but I don’t think so.”
Then there’s the Damian McBride email scandal that may have broken in the blogosphere but still needed the traditional media to completely take it into the scandal it has now become. Would McBride have resigned if the accusations had just appeared on Guido Fawkes’ blog and nowhere else ?
The best kind of nights, I’ve always found, are the ones where you end up in a completely unexpected place. Last night, for me, that unexpected place was a fascinating in-depth discussion of Belgian politics and media, and contrasting it with the UK.
This isn’t normally what I spend my nights down the pub doing, but then it’s also a neat illustration of why I enjoy going to the assorted social media meetups. Or in this case, Tweetup.
Gawd alone knows there’s enough political bloggers who could be accused of being a bit suspect with the idea of a democratic debate and particularly nasty when it comes to (somewhat pointless) online spats, but Tim would probably be bottom of that list.
Normally politics makes me depressed and / or angry. And ID cards moreso than most other political gubbins.
But this viral that No2ID have produced is powerful, frightening and so easily close to being a reality. It makes its point well without resorting to going over the top, and neatly counters the “if you’ve done nothing wrong then you’ve nothing to fear” argument.
ID cards scare me, especially given the government’s record in data retention and civil liberties. And the public discourse around them has been rubbish, frankly. Hopefully one day MPs will realise that Minority Report and 1984 were meant to be fictional visions of a dystopian future, not a training manual.
Anybody else ever get a bit irked over the incessant use of hyperbolic language in public life? Like the arrest of Damien Green being described as Stalinist by assorted politicians? If this was genuinely Stalinist, he’d have probably been sent to Siberia, or shot. And then airbrushed out of history. By this time next week, we’d have all been positively encouraged to have forgotten he ever existed.
One day we’ll probably have to invent a set of completely new hyperbole to replace the ones that have been killed off by repeated clubbing with mixed metaphors.
Just as stopped clocks tell the correct time twice a day, so a politician occasionally makes a valid point without perhaps realising it, often because it’s difficult to distinguish from the rest of the words that tumble from the mouth and make little sense.
Hazel Blears’ speech on blogging and the internet is a prime example of a politician just simply not getting how social media works, but there’s also a couple of interesting points in there. We’ll come to those later, but chief amongst the proclamations is this gem: