Attack of the Mud People

Mind the hose, please

Mind the hose, please

Much like an electric snake that has consumed several goats I’ve been gestating too many posts for too long and have been far too busy to boot.  Normal service now looks to be resumed…

It’s long since calmed down now of course but a post on the ever wonderful Jack of Kent’s blog and a namecheck of the dreaded Dolly Draper in Metro reminded me of the whole Damien McBride thing.  Most aspects of the affair have been discussed to destruction. The dislogic of sending such a potentially hot mail from a traceable address to someone as indiscreet as Draper is quite amazing. As are the low grade of the lies themselves – vague and readily deniable trivia.  Quality mud would have been much more darkly creative, impossible to disprove and leave far more questions in voters’ minds then gossip in the papers. Old Damien should have studied the work of the Prince of Lies himself, Lee Atwater, first. He could make people believe some properly absurd yet deeply damaging libels.

In an era where ideas and solid policy discussion are largely absent from mainstream media I fear we can suspect a General Election campaign based on character assassination.  Especially from an enraged yet enfeebled Labour, which is filled with a blinding, Nixon like hatred of and disrespect for the Opposition (or indeed any opposition).  This book has been doing the rounds of the Westminster Village.

Of course, the Web will need to be a part of HMG’s potentially doomed attempt to secure a mandate.  But the pathetic Red Rag attempt at tittle tattle (is Dolly not a kind of Midas of mischance?) combined with the horrific semi-official PC Zombie forum that is LabourList – which has less spirit and purpose than a discarded, rain sodden Foxton’s brochure from 2002 – suggests they have a lot to learn.  The US Democrats might be able to help, if it is not far too late already.

Why has HMG and Labour generally used social media so poorly? I think partly because it is a tool of insurgency. Social media at its best tunnels around and through a bland mainstream media, which is usually based on some stultifying consensus of right or left.  Those in power create much of that consensus so there is nothing to tunnel around nor real conversations they feel are worth starting.  All that is seen is a binary world of the consensus and an equally distorted polar opposite.  The rough and tumble (along with the depressingly frequent genuine radical weirdness) of online debate is handled much better by the British right as it is happy to shout back at what offends it, rather than just try to deny it any ‘platform’.

The very nature of the British left in 2009 would preclude anything or anyone like Guido Fawkes emerging. Ironically it could not work for the same reason a Daily Mail sponsored conference into reproductive health would collapse into an orgy of recrimination – there would be far, far too many ways to give and receive offence.  The only way out of the potential strife is to impose a kind of soft corporate blandness that speaks only to itself and within a very tight ideological straightjacket.  Which just makes all its bustle and fuss a silly, muffled kind of noise that passersby will scarcely notice and most certainly not respect.

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