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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Hung

I


It's Sunday night and the horse trading goes on. This will end in tears for all of us. The electorate voted on Thursday and they have spoken. The politicians are sticking their fingers in their ears and going "Lalala can't hear you".

Just over 60% of the electorate voted and just over a quarter of them chose Labour. Whichever way you read it, that's hardly a vote of confidence.
In Brown's own constituency the turnout was among the lowest. True, he increased his majority, but that was because the majority of his constituents either voted against him or stayed at home. How clear a message does he need to be sent?

The Tories got some of the "Anyone but Brown" vote, as did the LibDems. Unfortunately neither party offers a real alternative to Labour.
It's the same old policies, the same old politicians, only they've got different coloured rosettes on.

The political system is in a mess. The three main parties all appeal to the centre ground. It's like daytime TV or commercial radio. They've studied the demographic and have tailored their programme to a mythical typical viewer/listener/voter.
Anyone who has the misfortune to watch daytime TV will soon notice that every channel offers the same programme mix at the same time.
A few years ago I used to record a one-minute "thought for the day" for our local radio station. I chatted to the staff about who they thought was listening and they said there were two "typical listeners".
One was a twenty something female who listened to the radio while getting ready for work. She typically listened for fifteen to twenty minutes. The other was also female, middle aged, at home during the day, etc etc. Every element of their programming was aimed at these mythical creatures.**
Daytime TV also seems to aim at a particular demographic. After the Breakfast news programmes, which basically repeat every fifteen minutes because that's how long their typical viewer is alleged to watch; you get makeover programmes, antiques programmes, house buying programmes. Or car crash TV like Jeremy Kyle.
If you switch TV channels to find something different you soon find that each channel is aimed at the same mythical demographic.
Choice? There's no choice. The people who make the programmes have chosen according to what they believe the viewing public wants.

So it is with the current political landscape. Somewhere deep in the bunkers the strategists have identified the person they are appealing to. The floating voter. They have tried to second guess what he believes and what he wants.
Every five years the electorate get a chance to choose between the different varieties of political window dressing that they have selected for us.
It's like the TV Soap of the Year poll. The organisers select six programmes and you choose which one you like. If you don't like what's been chosen for you but would rather choose your own, tough. That's not how it works.
The electorate is given three very similar choices which are then advertised to death and various spin and polish added to make each one look more attractive than it is.
That's how it is supposed to work. Those who rule us have decreed it.
Only this time the electorate have in essence rejected all three.
Gordon Brown is so unpopular even his own MPs hate him.
Cameron is all style and no substance and is in thrall to his advisors. He is too scared to be a Conservative in case he alienates the mythical floating voter.
Clegg is good on TV. Full stop.

By failing to elect any party by a clear majority the electorate said that they are disattisfied. They're being ignored by virtue of living in a safe constituency, are ignored because their concerns about immigration, debt, corruption and the economy are not being adressed, and are fed up by being pandered to by tailor's dummies fronting huge spin operations. The electorate wanted honesty and transparency, leadership and openness.

So, three days on and what have they got?
The same old horse trading behind closed doors. The prospect of the parties that came second and third forming a government. The reality that their view have once again been dismissed.It will end in tears.

**(There were only a handful of staff at the radio station, mostly sellers of advertising space, with a couple of "presenters" recording links on to a computer. They could record a two hour show in about 20 minutes and the computer would play the tracks and the adverts and the links in the correct order. It sounded real, but was all an illusion. Btw, our local radio station is now broadcast from Peterborough. The studios are shut down. The signal is sent down the telephone line to a transmitter. That's the only local element)

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