Politicians and media are still in denial
There is no two ways about it: Labour lost. The by-election result in the Scottish constituency of Dunfermline and West Fife is sending a clear message, and not just to Labour. The Liberal Democrats overturned a comfortable majority in spite of their recent leadership difficulties and public relations disaster. This by-election might mark the end of spin, the practice of replacing hard facts and political programmes with clever sound bites from advertising specialists which “New” Labour introduced in an imitation of American-style politics.
Since Labour launched re-launched itself with the help of PR under the song theme “it can only get better” they started believing their own rhetoric. The media adjusted and turned from critical analysis to becoming the mouthpieces of their preferred party, with the Sun, for example, switching from Tory to Labour. Sun readers might not be discerning enough to notice the difference, but neither did the rest of the population when the policies of the leading parties all started looking very much alike. They forgot the old Lincoln quote that “you may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.
The political and media establishment are still in denial. This by-election might eventually help them realise that the political realities they conjure in their PR propaganda and tendentious reporting are about as real as the so-called Big Brother “reality show”. People may watch and be fascinated, but they know only too well that it is all concocted and doesn’t actually represent the lives they experience themselves. You can tell people that you never had it so good, or that the economy is forever growing and booming, or that the only thing they ever have to fear in their lives is to be taken hostage by an agent of al-Qaida Inc. Their worries about keeping up with mortgage payments, the inability to obtain an appointment at their local doctor’s, the run-down of services, however, will ultimately put the lie to all those attempts of persuasion.
In the Scottish by-election the Tories failed abysmally in spite of all the media attempts to smooth the new neocon Cameron into the position of best-loved politician of all times. It is hard for the Tories to shake of the uncaring Thatcher image. Discrediting Kennedy, an opponent of the Iraq war, and trying to replace him with right-wing substitute Oaten did not work either. Notwithstanding the constant pressure exerted by the gay lobby, the public did not approve of a homosexual in high office. Yet, as the election results show, this did not demolish the parties standing as the only viable alternative to the two complementary options of increasingly non-democratic Socialists and increasingly freedom-hating Conservatives, both of whom are in the pockets of big money. The vote went to the Liberals partly because they had not yet been able to betray voters whilst running the government.
There are numerous other issues where the mainstream media and politicians are woefully out of touch. The recent debacle about freedom of speech is one of them. Joe Blogs is quite capable of differentiating between a worthwhile contribution and an uncalled for insult. There is little chance that this contrived episode will help swing the British people behind the imminent war against Iran either. When given a chance, people will vent their frustration. Unfortunately, there is hitherto no adequate channel for their voices to be heard. Politicians, PR executives and media hacks would, nonetheless, be well advised to spend more time talking to their taxi drivers than listening to their own circles. It might help them catch up with reality.