A guest post by Samuel Miller
You’d think they’d learn by this point wouldn’t you? Politics by sound bite and policy by media forum has worked out so wonderfully well for the peoples of the UK. Manipulating and driving the opinion of the masses using dog whistle, short termist strategies and the politics of expediency. Nothing has done more to divide our society, break the chains of trust in our public institutions and send levels of societal trust in each other back to the stone age than the freakish love affair between our meeja and the political class. ‘Course its all about the ‘R’ word y’know? The word they whisper in the darkest corners of the darkest cludjies in Westminster…
When pooh hits the fan in politics, as it has big time over the ongoing galactostooshie that is Brexit, then the ‘go to strategy’ (as always), is deflection and/or projection. A casual scan of the pages of the right-wing media in particular over the course of 2016 is a depressing lesson in living colour of both. No one and I do mean NO ONE, wants to own responsibility for what is shaping up to be the worst bout of political, economic and societal self harm in the UKs recent history.
AN EXAMPLE –
It came as a surprise to me to find out over the course of the summer and autumn, that the EU will seek to punish the UK for its Brexit vote. Instant early doors response on first encountering this phenomenon was along the lines of … Whit?
(Needless to say, the list of such articles is endless, so we’re going with one link OK? Also, I don’t have enough eye bleach to hand to go wading and archiving through the likes of the usual suspects.)
Aye, it turns out (after a bit of reading) that those furren devils are going to punish the UK for opting to leave the EU by the nefarious means of not changing their own charter to suit the UKs needs. Seems they’re intent on, y’know, sticking to the club rules n’ such. Those being – You don’t enjoy membership privileges if you’re no longer a member. Oh, the infamy! Oh, the irony!
But just to recap – The Uk, without any requirement to ask the permission of Brussels by the by, decides it wants to hold a referendum to determine whether they wish to exit the EU or not. The EU basically says… Are you sure about this? The UK says… Ayup! The EU replies…Well ok then, if you’re sure.
(We’ll ignore the whole whys, wherefores and Tory power play, pissing contest kerfuffle for the sake of brevity at this point.)
There then follows one of the most dismal and shameful campaigns in UK electoral history. It was like watching two BT campaigns on steroids tear into each other and compete to see who could tell the biggest lie, terrify the most people, or get the biggest scare on the day. Safe to say that the UK’s political process did not come out of this covered in glory. TRULY AWFUL!
Anyroads, unsurprisingly after decades of media manipulation and political deflection tactics, the almost inevitable happens and the rest is very recent history. Stunned shock engulfs a fair chunk of the political class and both the party of government and their ‘honourable’ opposition decide NOW is the time to indulge in some freeform backstabbing for a few months. The meeja commentariat meanwhile go into meltdown, the pound falls off a cliff and sections of the financial sector start wearing underpants on their heads and run around in blind panic looking for capital flight strategies. Fear, anger, uncertainty and doubt grip the public to become the order of the day and decades of negative politics and idiotic media narrative become a runaway train.
The tactics, the language used by the politicians and overly invested media, it was all too familiar to me and I’m sure to readers of this site. More to the point, the impact on the public from those tactics all too predictable. So…, cause and effect? Wrongful punishment? All depends on the bill of goods being sold and who needs their arse or collective arses hauled out of the coals really. You decide.
Brexit and Indyref1 are prime examples of what happens when politicians and the more politically compromised sections of the media deploy the well-worn tactics of manipulation followed by deflection in search of particular agenda or advantage.
When a situation is perceived to go south big time, the general theme will ALWAYS be the same in every release, and in every medium on such occasions. The volume will be turned up or down depending on the political investment of the organ of choice, but it’s always going to be the ‘go to strategy’ – In case of emergency, break glass and deflect or project. Rewrite history 101 for dummies and the cycle of abuse continues.
Politics and the media. A symbiotic relationship where each feeds off the other and the waste they produce can poison populations. Today’s UK is their creation, no doubt about it. Sadly, the public, whether unwillingly or willingly, played their part too. They need us you see, to underwrite their actions.
It was a big boy did it and ran away.
No, it really wasn’t.
Here is a quick reminder of something I wrote a few months back:
“The written word is powerful. People can be moved to acts of great kindness and humanitarian aid, or they can be moved to acts of intolerance and great inhumanity. They can be motivated to feel true empathy, humour, regret, hope, aspiration even. Or they can be made to feel doubt, uncertainty, anger, fear and hatred. In the hands of a true wordsmith it is a tool or a weapon that can influence the emotions and opinions of individuals and populations alike for good or ill.
The medium of newsprint is a tool, as are radios, TVs, tablets, laptops etc. They lie there harmless to all until someone starts to speak to you through them. It is the intent of the user, the nature of the platform from which they speak, which determines whether they remain tools, or become weapons.
THAT is the power of the media.”
And don’t the political establishment just know it?
So why go over this well discussed history now, I hear you ask? Simply bear this all in mind as January and the Supreme Court ruling rolls into view. I suspect that what follows shortly thereafter will make 2016’s media output look like a dog and pony show as the next chapter of Brexit unfolds. Watching carefully what our politicians and the media say and HOW they say/sell it in the coming months will never be more important.