The alternate world of the parties’ Facebook posts #ge2017

The phony war is over.

Parliament has been dissolved, MPs are once again normal people, and the election campaign has begun in earnest with Theresa May getting out of the traps early with an attack on Europe’s leakers.

With so little notice that an election was coming much of the early campaigning has been done on social media.

So, what have we learnt so far from the parties’ election posts?

  • They don’t do news. The posts operate in a different universe where there is no news and everybody’s talking about the parties’ daily talking points. Here’s Tim Farron dealing once and for all with those questions about his views on gay sex and sin.
  • Grandstanding is grand. Asked a tough question at PMQs? Why not include your lengthy oration on your Facebook page and cut before your opponent has a chance to answer.
  • Everybody is playing nicely. It’s not just Jeremy Corbyn who is avoiding personal attacks, so far no-one has played dirty – unlike back in 2015. Well, almost no-one.
  • No-one has any policies. In 2015 all the parties spent a lot of time and effort explaining their costed manifestos. This time around they’re struggling to make it up as they go along.
  • Theresa May’s Downing Street speech announcing the snap election was a hit.

 

Of course, it is early days yet and the parties may yet decide to toughen up their social media communications.

But so far it is an alternative world of anodyne spin and pre-approved key messages.

Let’s hope Twitter is more fun…

George Osborne should quit as a MP to edit the Standard

Had a blog I wrote for the University of Northampton picked up by The Huffington Post.

You can see it here:

 

Endless debates about TV debates

Surprise move: David Cameron appointed Craig Oliver

I’m not going to rehearse the debate about TV election debates; I’ve made clear I think they should happen and will happen in the short campaign.

But I think it’s worth noting that in trying to do David Cameron’s bidding in scuppering the debates, Craig OIiver seems to have managed to achieve the worst of all worlds.

Cameron consistently said he thought they sucked the life out of the 2010 campaign – although politicians are always likely to say this about debates they haven’t won.

Still, the Prime Minister’s determination not to let them take place again has led to a confrontation with the broadcasters at precisely the wrong point in the electoral calendar.

I know Craig from ITN and he’s a smart operator. But it’s clear he thought the broadcasters would back down when faced with a point-blank refusal from No 10.

That strategy has blown up in his face because of a surprisingly firm response from the broadcasters.

Now Labour’s chicken charge is sticking, it’s getting traction with the public, and that can only get worse from now on.

If Cameron doesn’t take part in the debates, he’s a chicken. If he does take part, he’s a flip-flop chicken.

Downing Street’s only hope for a way out of the impasse is a failure of nerve and splits among the broadcasters to emerge. Cue Lord Grade.

Ed Miliband’s media training

I read during the summer that Labour had finally got around to hiring someone to advise Ed Miliband on broadcasting.

Former BBC producer Matt Laza got the job, which the party had apparently had some difficulty filling.

You can see the results on yesterday’s Channel 4 News. Shirt-sleeves rolled up, voice pitched lower, speaking more slowly, falling over fewer words. Until Jon Snow starts to press him, at which point there’s a return to normal.

But who on earth agreed to the interview taking place next to a hospital bed! Was he in intensive care following a beating from Ed Balls for forgetting the deficit? Back-drops matter on TV and the subliminal message this delivered wasn’t positive.