Thursday 29 November 2018

Whatever happened to credible spin?

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Theresa May wants a debate with Jeremy Corbyn. A debate purely about her soon to be defeated Brexit deal. The deal that dare not speak its name. The Toxic one. That no one mentions anymore. Possibly because Theresa put a 'D' notice on it. So the 'C' word cannot even be mentioned, about not even being mentioned.
She wants to have a live debate about that.
Yes, really. 
She does.

The strategy of politics is something we often consider here. From the bullying and threatening manipulation of Campbell. 
The darker, more subtle, more poisonous, machinations of Mandelson. 
The insider knowledge spinning of Coulson. 
The 'too clever by half' nudging of Oliver.
The Malenkovian maneuverings of Milne. 
And the secretive Mandarin whispers of Robbins.

It has often been noted that the government is only interested in the government.
Good or bad. Success or failure. Costly or excessively costly, are irrelevant. 
Perception is everything. If the public can be made to accept something, then it is automatically a success. Regardless of its real world outcome.

The superlative spin machine in Downing Street, and the considerable oratorical and thespian skills of Tony Blair, persuaded parliament, the press, and much of the country, that going to war, as an aggressor, without sanction or evidence, was 
'The right thing to do.'

This war was possibly the biggest mistake of any post-war UK government. And it was pretty obvious it was going to end badly, right from the very moment Tony Blair said he wanted a war. 
Once the counseling and attempts to convince him otherwise had failed. The economic, diplomatic, social, and military costs shown to him, and dismissed, then it was the job of his inner henchmen and henchwomen to ensure this terrible folly was painted as a brilliant salvation. 

And so we ended up with 45 minutes of dodgy dossiers and anthrax island and all sorts of nonsense. The war was a disaster.
The operation to have a war; the whipping and debating and convincing. The honours and favours and promotions; and leaking and spinning and planting required to have this war, was a huge success. The very pinnacle of the great golden age of spin.

Since then, spinning has had a far less successful effect. Corbyn's people have only convinced the faithful that he isn't an antisemitic terrorist appeaser. 
May convinced few that she really was strong and stable. 
The referendum, despite the largest spinning operation, on a worldwide scale, failed to prevent the unimaginable leave option being chosen. 
Project Fear was deemed such a success for stopping the Scottish breakaway and the Miliband tendency, that it has been deployed non stop, ever since.
The ridiculous London Mayor race. Brexit. Corbyn the IRA member. Climate change. The effect has been to shift a few % points at best. But probably just as many the other way. 
Yet, despite its very patchy recent record, it remains the number one choice of government for use on the public. Turned up to eleven at all times.
With seemingly no concern for just how ridiculous this makes the architects of the Fear seem. 

So far, the only thing the Treasury hasn't advised this week, is to stock up on Zombrex.
But its only Thursday. There's still time. The coming 'vote me down and unleash a Zombie Apocalypse' is somewhere on Nick's grid.

Does this show a lack of talent in Westminster?  Surely the most prestigious position, the PM's confidante and assassin, would be one which attracts the very best in the business? It pays well too. Not quite as well as private work, but its only for a few years. With a guarantee that whatever follows is a choose your own salary position. 
Comes with an exit knighthood and a contacts and secrets file that would guarantee instant board appointment or euro non-job of your choice.

So why so lackluster? Labour are concentrating on social media and core vote. In a better way than Miliband's team managed. But they have no wider plans. Unless they luck into them. Just the usual class war, Tories are babykiller bad and rich people are worse. Let's take their stuff. Mixed with some eye-watering handouts. But no attempt to convince the extra votes they need that they too can enjoy the fruits of a bounteous socialist economy.

And May? Her blinkers and her handlers only allow her two minutes of non-brexit time a week. Which is why after more than two years of being PM all we know is she doesn't like diesel or cotton buds. Plastic straws or being lonely. 

The debates are not quite agreed yet, they may not happen. The Government political bubble is being particularly obtuse. Assuming that the words of the two Great Oz, would make far superior viewing to some jungle themed reality show.
They can't believe that Sky+ user data for the debate of the century won't set any records.

If it does come to pass, I believe it will be a huge mistake.

Not just because the two worst debaters in the parliament will be doing it.
Image result for boring debate

 But because there is a potential elephant trap in it for one of them. 

A career ending one.

Can you spot it?


AndrewZ said...

"Whatever happened to credible spin?"

Three things happened. Firstly, the internet changed the meaning of "the media". When Blair was plotting his way to power in the 1990s, controlling the media meant leaning on half a dozen editors in central London who all moved in the same milieu and came from the same background. Now it means trying to influence thousands of media outlets across the globe, most of whom are immune to any influence that British politicians can bring to bear.

Secondly, the public got wise to the tactics of spin, making it ever harder to spin anything.

Thirdly, the titans of the spin era moved on to other things and were replaced by imitators who tried to repeat their formula without understanding that circumstances had changed in a way that rendered the formula ineffective.

Spin politics is dead but the vacancy it has left has yet to be filled. It's one of those periods of history in which reality has moved on and the political class has yet to catch up.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I don’t know why Steptoe doesn’t go for it and offer an actual Brexit. Even I’d vote for the fool if he did.

E-K said...

Me too, SW.

There is nothing to fear from Corbyn. The same power base that sabotaged Brexit will sabotage him.

I agree with all of this except that May was 'gullible' (innocent.) All this shit about strong and stoical - FGS ! She has the full Remain support phoning her up and giving her fillip. Pats on back, winks... all going to plan... hnn. hnnnn ... ha ha .... BWAH-HA-HA-HA !

If you feel that the Tory Party should be punished terminally for their treason then do so or you will have poisonous levels of pent up anger within you for the rest of your life.

CityUnslicker said...

May is going to debate selling a deal she does not believe in with Corbyn promoting a new referendum when he wants us to leave.

I think both of their careers are at an end, but mainly thanks to the Fixed Term Parliament act they are still in power. My reasoning here is that in the past Jezbollah would have been gone after a year of failure and with an election looming, but Tezza's election was a surprise so he got lucky. Then Tezza's defeat and current abject performance would have the Tories making swift changes - but no, with 4 years until an election they can let her take the flak, almost literally then choose someone else.....even when they are in a minority.

Under the old rules, the DUP would have abstained by now and we would have an election. Under the old rules, with that in prospec May would have been gone at Chequers summit in the summer.

The fixed term act can be added to the list of why our politicians are so crap and will continue to be.

Anonymous said...

We had Campbell speak at an event I was at yesterday, he wasn't allowed to speak of Brexit, (We had enough of that with Mandelson last year) although he couldn't help himself.

He was talking of mental health, interesting to hear a different view point - but you could tell just how much of a narcissistic and deluded character he must be.

I don't think he has one ounce of understanding of any of the negatives that came about from the the Blair years, he truly thinks his master was the greatest PM of all time - so he probably is an expert on experiencing mental health issues.

But going back to this topic - I've been following the Russia-Gate story, which to me is a master class of spin and narrative setting. It looks like the UK (and AUS) intelligence community were deeply involved, much like with the dodgy dossier and narrative setting from the Iraq war.

I'm at the point where I trust very little of what I read anywhere - separating fact from opinion or just down right lies to understanding whether it's information from disinformation (Khashoggi murder another good example of this in action) has become impossible.

Has it always been as bad as it is now but with the advent of social/alternative media we're just better and understanding the crap that's being fed to us?

Anonymous said...

Stop doing this, BQ!

"Corbyn's people have only convinced the faithful that he isn't an antisemitic terrorist appeaser."

Corbyn is an actual terrorist supporter (IRA) but he's not an antisemite. Feeling that the Palestinians have had a rough deal and not being 110% behind Israel come what may a la May/Cameron/Blair, does not an anti-Semite make.

The fact that Corbyn was elected LP leader and is still there is I guess another one of those shocks to the elites like the Brexit and Trump votes, and I imagine there's plenty of behind the scenes activity devoted to ensuring suuch a thing never happens again, just as there is with Trump and Brexit.

"Has it always been as bad as it is now but with the advent of social/alternative media we're just better and understanding the crap that's being fed to us?"

I don't think it's ALWAYS been as bad, but then we had elites who didn't despise and hate us. But ask yourself, where have the nightly news feeds from Syria got to? Has the war stopped? And why aren't we seeing the gallant White Helmets digging bewildered toddlers out of ruins in Yemen?

Bill Quango MP said...

Andrew Z . Yes agree with all that. But I also hold that the new breed, aren’t as good as the old. Or they would have had us all doing their bidding. Like they managed in the old days.

SW: I think he’s building up to something. Not through choice, but through events. But I don’t think for a second it’s leave on deal.

Ek:- if the ‘stablishment had managed to knobble the Express, and especially The Mail, before the referendum, we never would have left. They learned that lesson.
Though I don’t know how the new Daily May will cope with losing 500,000 readers over 2-3 year period.

CU. Right. It’s the fixed term that has ended the volatility. For better and for worse.

Anon 1. Campbell is interesting. Far more than just a thumper and bumper. Very like his thick of it image I suspect.
But he is a genius of his craft.
For instance, he, more than anyone, was responsible for bringing down a journalist. Causing shockwaves of terror throughout the BBC. The resignation of a directorial general and a cowed Toady programme. I recall sitting in very early morning traffic when the dodgy dossier was announced to the world on radio 4. And I thought if they haven’t got this 100% airtight, the bbc are dead.

They hadn’t. And rightly suffered for inferring the PM was a warmongering manipulator of facts. The purging followed soon after.

But today, Ali C is welcome on any bbc prog, Day or night. Welcome and respected and admired and encouraged.
So he still has his gifts.

Anon2. I think he is. Perhaps only subconsciously. But the evidence is all about. I don’t believe he has Nazi flags in his bedroom or visits far right blogs. Just that if he was given the choice between a United ireland or a Palestinian state, the second choice would be his.
His dislike of Jews in general would sway him.

As for behind the scenes meddling, Boris Johnson was taken out by May and Corbyn activity. His chances to become PM look slim.
Much of it self inflicted, of course. But there was a number ten campaign to severely discredit him.

Anonymous said...

@ Bill Q (Anon 3 here)

I don't know about any No 10 campaign to take out BJ; the key thing here is that his actual capability has been found significantly wanting since he left the Mayor of London job (where it's not really needed - witness the current incumbent)

BJ is great and persuasive with words, newspaper articles and speeches...but that's it. There's literally no substance behind that facade.

Thick said...

Call me thick but what is the elephant trap?

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Higham said...

News on Twitter is they’ve agreed terms.

E-K said...

Anon @ 12.49

I remember Campbell visiting Nick Kennerley's not-very-PC site (The Real Peter Hitchens/Beast of Clerkenwell) and telling him what a low life he was. He had him down as a racist. (Nick was being ironic.)

Nick passed away a member of a Gospel church and his real life community was 100% black in the end !

WTF does Campbell know of humanity let alone humility ?

Bill Quango MP said...

Thick - I will post about it.See if any one else agrees.
And we will know if it is a trap,soon enough.

EK - Campbell has issues. Very dark demons. Probably well deserved.
But he does know about mental health from firsthand experience.

Robert Enke, German goalie, committed suicide in 2009. For no real reason.
Loving and very beautifil wife and young family.
Very successful career that was becoming even more successful as he was the next choice to be the no 1 goalkeeper for the German national team.
Stacks of cash in the bank. Fast cars and a superb home. Plus holiday homes here and there. Able to partake in all his sports and hobbies that he wished.
Killed himself. Because he didn't see that he was doing anyone any good. And he felt a failure.

Depression is an illness. One good thing about Mad May is that she recognises that and is funding it better.

david morris said...

"Bad" Al C still has his gifts ?


He can still negotiate his way around the media - BBC/C4/Graun, because of his rep & past favours given but outside that happy hunting ground he is a cancer to any cause he latches onto.

There is no more reviled a character (other than Bliar) in the country today.

david morris said...

& that last sentence

who do you think you are

Rolf Harris ?