Friday 17 April 2015

Mr Putin's Strategy Prevails

Watching as much as I can bear of the election coverage it is striking how ineffective almost every gambit seems to be.  Fairly dramatic policy commitments are launched; incidents planned and unplanned strike the news editor's desk with enough force to command headline coverage; mighty gaffes are perpetrated; claim, counterclaim, downright lie and outright abuse are hurled; and all disappear from the scene in a welter of newly-minted nonsense, with a half-life of about an hour.

Postcard from Hell
It has been suggested that Mr Putin's over-arching strategy for managing politics in the era of the interweb (over which he exercises a lot less control than his Chinese counterparts) is to bombard all media with such a cacophony of high volume noise, the less coherent the better, so that confusion reigns and nobody believes anything.

(Nearer to home, I'd say that recent UK exponents of media management such as Campbell, Mandelson and Clifford, all essayed a similar strategy - but episodically; smokescreens deployed reactively at times of particularly awkward embarrassment for their clients and masters, rather than as an ongoing 24/7 way of life.  Modus operandi, rather than vivendi.)

Under the Putin doctrine the incumbent power is presumed to be the beneficiary as no opposition ever gains traction.

I wonder if Cameron, by design or otherwise, is in line to benefit from the same?  He doesn't even need to generate the hubub himself (though the Tories play their part) - his opponents do it for him, which might even add to its charm.

A good weekend to all.



Steven_L said...

You mean confusions marketing?

Haven't the gas companies etc been doing that for donkeys, all saying they are the cheapest, until nobody believes them and bother switching?

Blue Eyes said...

I think that voters have been using the same technique when questioned by pollsters, because there is no other logical reason why Ed Miliband is still in contention in this race.

john miller said...

The parties are left with their tribal cores.

The 60% (place your bets now!) who won't bother to vote are the proof of how pathetic all politicians (or meddling scroungers as we should call them) really are.

K said...

Isn't this exactly what Adam Curtis said in "Oh Dearism 2"? Cutris' analysis is pretty crappy as always though (e.g. mixes up debt and deficit).

So to me it doesn't seem that Cameron/Osborne/etc are creating confusion on purpose a la Putin but rather the incompetent journalists like Curtis make so many mistakes that they muddy the water.

Perhaps the dumbing down of journalists is a conspiracy by The Powers That Be but that's something that's been decades in the making.

Nick Drew said...

I hadn't seen the Curtis, K, so thanks for the link and yes, that's the Putinesque theory I was referring to

as regards whether Camerosborne is at it purposefully, I agree that it could be just as much the journos at fault as my other candidate, the opposition parties

in other words, as with all good strategies it goes with the grain of the situation

[the slow degradation of journalism - and, I would add, the editorial function - is a mighty big topic ...]

rwendland said...

Off topic ND, but big news for Hinkley C. Looks rather like the Flamanville EPR pressure vessel is no good, and will likely need replacing (+3 years) or the whole build cancelled. If that happens, it will pretty much kill the EPR as a design enlargement too far. The Chinese will be pissed, as they are building 2 of them:

France 24 says (I wonder if they have missed out some important context like "If the ASN tests fail ..."?):

"Either EDF abandons the project or it takes out the vessel and starts building a new one… this would be a very heavy operation in terms of cost and delay," Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of the ASN, told the French daily ‘Le Parisien’.

Nick Drew said...

Yup, saw that Mr W

would have been cleaner if the EC had simply ruled the state aid illicit

something was always going to kill a project as artificial as this eventually

one should never underestimate the political willpower of the frogs, but this really does look like the end of the road

presumably they will fall back on a newer design - if Areva doesn't die of hypothermia in the meantime

Laban Tall said...

I'm not sure that Putin's the brilliant media controller some people portray. When that opposition chap got shot in Moscow it was headline TV news, the video of the bridge was played again and again, lots of talking heads to blame Putin. And I keep hearing about "Russian Expansion" all over the place.

When the journalist was shot in Kiev the other day he was the EIGHTH (or ninth) supporter of the overthrown ex-president to die recently. Yet he's not getting the Anna Politkovskaya treatment, and I'd not heard anything about the other seven or eight.

"Mr Buzyna is the latest in a series of allies of Ukraine's pro-Russian former President, Victor Yanukovych, to die in suspicious circumstances. His killing comes a day after former MP Oleg Kalashnikov, who was close to Mr Yanukovych, was shot dead in Kiev.

Mr Gerashchenko, who is also an MP, said he believed both killings were related to the victims' involvement with Ukraine's "anti-Maidan" movement. It opposed the popular overthrow of Mr Yanukovych in 2014. According to Mr Gerashchenko, both men were key witnesses in a criminal case related to pro-Russian activists who attacked protesters in the Maidan Square uprising that deposed Mr Yanukovych.

At least eight other officials connected to Mr Yanukovych's government have died suddenly in the past three months. Authorities initially labelled some of the deaths suicides, but later they said it was possible that some of the people were killed or forced to take their lives."

Btw, I often hear the (relatively) poor economic outcomes and high crime rates for black people in the US and UK blamed on the legacy of slavery. Serfdom was only abolished in Russia around the same time (and Alexander I was promptly killed for his good deed), and presumably serfs had been serfs since well before the Triangular Trade. Yet no one ever gives Russia a pass on this account. Most odd.

rwendland said...

ND, I've been looking into the Flamanville EPR pressure vessel situation, and it seems poorly reported in the media.

It seems the tests are largely done, and what is likely happening now is that EDF is working on a proposed safety case to use the inferior pressure vessel safely by changing the operating conditions (eg lower pressure and power, less temperature fluctuation, shorter lifetime, etc). The tests that identified this problem (on another head) were done back in 2012/3, and it seems the lid has been kept on the results for quite some time, but some results were leaked to the media recently.

I'd have thought EDF will have a tricky time in the media trying to explain that using a "defective" pressure vessel is safe, even under a more benign operating regime with regulator approval. Big PR hit I suspect. Maybe ASN see this will be difficult for them as well, and want to head it off by getting info out now?

The Flamanville faulty pressure vessel upper and bottom heads were in fact manufactured in 2006/7 by Creusot Forge (now Areva), and it seems a terrible QA mistake that it was not shown up by tests then. The problem is not mostly with brute strength, but more with resistance to propagation of cracks over time.

The Chinese will have known about this for some time, as they too have suspect pressure vessels, so were in the know when they were negotiating over Hinkley Point C investment. This may well account why the Chinese investors a) have not finalised the deal yet, b) want less equipment to be made in France, c) want a high ROI (high CfD pricing) to compensate for the additional risks they are clearly taking.

What a mess. What will the French do with Areva?

NB The Finnish Olkiluoto pressure vessel was made in Japan, so probably does not have this particular problem. Still a ridiculously slow build and financial disaster.

DJK said...

Laban Tall: The killings in Kiev seem to have got little coverage, not to mention the strange story of the Ukranian nationalist web site being hosted on a Nato server.