The Tories' failed £1.2m social smear ads reveal callouses on our attention’s tender spots


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/11/attention-snakeoil.html

The UK election didn’t deliver the increased majority that PM Theresa May was seeking, but it wasn’t for lack of trying: the UK Conservative party spent £1.2m on social media smear ads that painted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser, a useful idiot for Scottish separatism, and an incompetent.


#3

I am not sure that the smear ads were effective, but something seemed to be working. I know a few people who were voting Conservative and were (and still are) similarly convinced that Corbyn was a traitor who had dealings with the IRA. This is weird, as they do not seem to have any qualms with doing a deal with the UDP today, or even that Margaret Thatcher had (indirect) discussions with the IRA a similar time ago that led to the Good Friday Agreement. They did not echo the madder Daily Mail stuff that Corbyn was doing away with the army and the royal family, and giving away the Falklands, and Gibraltar, and breaking up the United Kingdom, but I suspect Murdoch is somewhere at the back of this.


#4

While I think Cory’s analysis is accurate (human beings adapt to strategies), I think that as one side builds up “wins”, the winners become more complacent, and the losers become more motivated.

Sadly, this “regression to the mean” (okay, in politics, this “the mean” is jumping all the way to the other side) applies to all sides. It brought Trump in, and it will carry him off. Of course, a lot of damage can be done along the way (Brexit, etc.)

One other point - the US President is such a powerful symbol that it overshadows the much greater, but somewhat less visible, but quite possibly more meaningful power of the Senate, Congress, and State legislatures. I’m hoping that a Republican win the White House presages a strong push back against the total dominance of the Republicans in pretty much all walks of American political life.

I’m half convinced that if the only political position the Democrats held in the country was the presidency, that I and many of my cohort would be breathing a sigh of relief. Such is the power of symbols.


#5

£1.2m

Christ, more money gets spent on school board elections here in the States.


#6

It’s not the point, really, it’s relative spend.
At this point it is essential to maintain the public perception that the ruling party is founded on a complete tissue of lies hidden by the dark arts of PR, advertising and media manipulation. This is evidence of that. Whataboutery isn’t relevant. What is relevant is that Crosby’s attempt (along with Murdoch and Dacre) to introduce US/Australian electoral manipulation hasn’t gone very well.


#7

Whilst it is true that there are folk out there who are “drinking the Kool-Aid” (as I believe our US cousins put it), those people are the last ones that need to be persuaded of their insanity. I mean, sure, I’d like them to reconsider, but it’s about as likely as Trump accepting responsibility for something.
What we were really reminded this year is that the thing that makes the difference is feet on the ground. And that’s what Labour had, and are likely to retain for at least one election more. There’s strong evidence that the 2015 result was almost entirely down to the suspiciously funded Battle Bus strategy in which the Tories poured “volunteers” into target constituencies (often LibDem, which shows you how much they trusted their coalition partners); there’s equally strong evidence that because the Tories didn’t dare risk that again this year, even if they weren’t prosecuted last time, the blowback from the referendum meant that a lot of non-voters were galvanised into action.
It didn’t hurt that for the first time in a generation, one* of the party leaders actually looked as though they believed in what they were saying, rather than parroting a focus group.
(*actually, to be fair, only May was that bad this time. In 2015 all three party leaders felt interchangeable.)

Getting out and talking to people ends up actually having results. Who knew? :slight_smile:


#8

Personally, I think May should stay for a while. She can be mercilessly mocked and villified in the press a bit longer, then, in a month or so, be forced to deal with Trump’s state visit. Come autumn, when whatever ghastly things he’s done and said whilst here are still associated with her, we can have another snap election. I’d like that very, very much.


#9

I think that Trump has won because there was no credible alternative to him on the right that didn’t look like a clown and they managed to potray Clinton as a corrupt product of the system. She also decidedly lacks the charm and “people skills” that Obama had.

This same scenario could have well played out here in France too - except that Macron came literally out of nowhere (his party isn’t even a year old and before Fillon’s nepotism scandals he was seen as a complete outsider) and has offered a credible alternative to the voters who were disilussioned by the traditional parties while at the same time repulsed by the extremes (Le Pen’s far right and Melenchon’s communists in all but name). The French two round election system is effective at preventing vote fragmentation among many candidates that have no realistic chance at being elected and also at blocking the extremes out - people come to vote not for their candidate (who may have not even qualified for the 2nd round, like Melenchon or Fillon) but to block the less acceptable one - Le Pen in this case.

Also the implosion of Le Pen on live TV when facing Macron didn’t help - it showed that apart from empty slogans, anti-immigration talk and insults she has nothing of substance to offer when it comes to actual governing. She came across as totally clueless and incompetent, even as seen by her own party members. The French voters are sensitive to such thing - that debate alone gave Macron several percentage points.

UK was a bit special case - both a case of personal ambition of Cameron (who played poker to improve his position in the UK) and Boris Johnson, who was eager to get him out and take his place. Unfortunately they have both screwed up, big time, got much more than they have bargained for and now have to deal with the mess. That had little to do with some big data magic ad targeting and everything political backstabbing and fanning the most basic and primitive human emotion - hate. That UKIP has completely disappeared from the scene after Brexit is telling.


#10

… and the political culture in the USA changed so that being an uncultured dumb Egomaniac is seen as a perk by the electorate rather than a flaw.

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

  • I. Asimov

#11

Marcon, Trump and Corbyn are all political outsiders and IMO that’s more important than their actual policy positions. What voters most want is a change, any change from the status quo.


#12

So why did the Ukip vote collapse then? They also offered a change in their election manifesto (one that I would have found unbearable to live under).

Some of us do know which direction we want change to happen in and won’t vote for anyone offering status quo or change in the opposite direction.


#13

A few of my friends say that they think the economy is going to crash harder than it already has, and it will happen soon. I’m in agreement with them, basically the Tories economic policy is equivalent to putting sticking plasters over a bone sticking though the skin at best.

If it happens before another election then hopefully we can finally get rid of the myth that the Tories are economically competent.

An Autumn election is probably too soon for that though.


#14

Well, there’s changes and there’s changes.


#15

Well at least he “regrets” doing so. Sure it was a weasely excuse but at least he tried!


#16

Tories the day before the election:
Jeremy Corbyn used to be sympathetic towards Sinn Fein.

Tories the day after the election:
Lets do a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.

I think the Conservatives have won the 2017 award for hypocrisy with that move. And as for the DUP…



Note that DUP founder Ian Paisley Sr. is associated with all of them.


#17

I dont have a horse in this race. Not at all. Who is more of a hypocrite isnt my interest either. Just pointing out the instance of hypocrisy I was aware of.


#18

Yup. After all those smears of Corbyn as “soft on terror,” this is where the Tories went:


#19


#20

Joining the Resistance is groovy.


#21

On indefinite hold, according to the Guardian’s sources.