Election fever rages across the land. Well, it may do in Iran, I believe they’re going to the polls next week. Closer to home it’s all a bit ‘meh’. Which is just how Theresa likes it – the first Prime Minister in history to go on ‘Avoid The People’ tours.
You can’t say the Labour leadership aren’t having a good time. The jolly manifesto launch in Bradford. Those lovely, noisy rallies, with a relaxed Jezza making funny faces at dogs for those happy, social media-friendly pictures. Corbyn really does look like a man who is enjoying himself, and I’m sure that if you are one of the thousands who have flocked to his meetings, it’s a real buzz. The trouble is, the electorate is about 45 million people.
As one of the 45 million, I’m feeling a bit left out. I consume political media. I know what’s going on. Or do I?
I don’t know what’s going on, because I don’t matter.
That’s right. There are two electorates, they are roughly of equal size, and I’m in the one that doesn’t matter.
The electorate that doesn’t matter consists of the ‘designated losers’ – the ‘un-Elect’, if you like. People who are supporters of opposition parties, and who are unlikely to be swayed by Tory-Brexit Party propaganda. Sure, I’ve had the odd rogue ‘suggested post’ from a local Maybot candidate, but it’s half-hearted stuff, probably the work of enthusiastic amateurs in unwinnable seats. The sort of stuff I saw on Facebook routinely during 2015 is entirely absent today.
The electorate that matters, on the other hand, is getting the full political malware attack. Those clever, expensive, guns-for-hire analytics people, who mine your data the better to target the sort of mugs they think will be susceptible to their highly-crafted ‘narratives’, they are on the case.
May is way past the crass old days when they stuck posters on lorries telling foreigners to ‘eff off’. Now the message (The Message – they don’t like subtle), is being slipped around the net, under the radar, hidden from the eyes of people like us in the sub-prime electorate, but on every phone and tablet of their own, carefully chosen electorate of people who they think will prefer a meme to a graph, an emotion over a fact.
Because of the ‘first past the post’ system, British voters have never been equal at the ballot boxes. In ‘safe seats’, a vote for the ‘wrong’ party never stood a chance of counting for anything. Swing voters in marginal seats were all that mattered. Nonetheless, in a general election, it was a carnival open to anyone. We all got the leaflets, we all saw the advertisements, we were all at the party, so to speak.
Ironically, there are fewer safe seats now. But the technology is such that that fact is largely irrelevant. The richest side in a vote can now sideline the portion of the electorate whom they can’t win, and pour all resources into those they can win. They can whisper in ears, without the rest of us knowing.
Clever stuff, modern electioneering, if you’ve got the money to do it.
And it stinks.