Regular viewers are familiar with Youna, from my joyous sharing of her dogly antics & such.
Well, this is a public service announcement because we (she's my ex's dog but still often stays with me) came within a hair's breadth of losing her this weekend. And it could happen to you
Sunday evening. Here she is, playing with her friend Oscar the whippet. On one side of the path is the beach. On the other side a freshwater lake.
Youna likes to cool down by taking a dip in the lake. And have a drink.
It's a lovely evening & we're all heading back to our cars.
Here the pictures end, because a nightmare begins.
If you unpicked it forensically I'd stake everything I own on a continuous thread connecting a belief today that the Johnson administration is doing a good job on Covid-19 all the way back to the think tank lobby entities created in the Thatcher-Reagan era.
The problem is, this story is too big to tell. Start with this remarkable article from 9 years ago by Adam Curtis bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurt…
Along the way, read Erin's equally remarkable work on the US PR firm Burson-Marsteller
I'll not be taking questions on 'what to do now' until I've found a way of assembling what I've already said many times before. No bandwidth to deal with the recursive hell of Twitter atm
Expect a detailed post on the failed Labour campaign & the unforgivable incompetence of a team that repeated all the mistakes of Britain Stronger In Europe, sometime before Christmas.
And a proposal to replace Labour entirely with a new left entity.
Well-meaning interlocutors recycling lukewarm Guardian thinkpiece talking points on the assumption I might miraculously have not previously considered them will go unanswered. I'm chatty for reasons of decency, but Twitter chatter is toxic & dull, so I need to draw back
Immediately after Trump's election there was an influx of Twitter accounts designed to destabilise, disinform & cause dismay to the losing half of an electorate in shock.
This WILL be repeated in Britain.
Johnson has been sliming around making emollient speeches but under the skin he is a Steve Bannon project. A genuine fascist. The Conservatives are a new force now, staging an irreversible power grab.
One thing to expect is for mysterious entities to appear online, typically looking like some form of 'resistance' to BJ *and* the left. When it happened in the aftermath of Trump it created genuine Twitter hysteria. It's happening already, 48 hours into the Johnson era proper.
At this stage, some BBC managers will be worried about Johnson failing to secure a majority on Thursday. The well-trodden career path from national broadcaster to Conservative government roles would be temporarily barred. This introduces a perverse incentive for partiality
Expect, at editorial policy level, no scrutiny of the many contradictions inherent in stories like the ludicrous 'Labour seizing on documents leaked by Russians' while Boris Johnson suppresses a report on Russian money influencing Conservative policy. So, business as usual
With Labour closing in on the Tories, as millions of voters come to their senses on the potential of tactical voting, those BBC managers face the potential of proper scrutiny on their conduct since Johnson took office, if he goes.
With #bbcimpartiality trending it's time for another story about the editorial process.
I was working as researcher on a 'flagship' Radio 4 current affairs programme. We were making an episode about future water supply security.
I set about researching the issue of meeting Britain's future water supply needs. The problem was indeed real. Britain's falling water table spelled serious consequences in the 21st century.
The experts I spoke to were unanimous on the solution.
Too much water was being wasted
I learned how other countries manage water and preserve continuity of supply. I discovered how profligate Britain routinely is with water. How the recently privatised water companies were failing to tackle leaks. How little incentive there was on them to reduce water usage
Of all Laura Kuenssberg's tweets today, the most striking one is where she describes whether "any government would ever do a deal that made medicines much more expensive for the NHS" as the "big political question".
I have no idea about LK's personal politics, or if she has shelved her own views for the sake of the job. There certainly are political journalists who don't vote at all for that reason. So I still default to assuming she simply repeats talking points given to her by team Johnson
This take will doubtless frustrate those who find it comforting to accuse journalists like Kuenssberg or Peston of advancing a political agenda. Because that's easy to understand.
I still suspect it's a case of competence rather than conspiracy.
It was inevitable that the Vote Leave team - which went on to form this government's Downing St apparatus - would replay the 'fake claim & offer on a bus' stunt.
They are good at framing.
Fortunately, so is Labour. Which is why the Tories are doing the bus thing again.
The original bus was designed to promote a general impression of high EU membership costs. And tie that to a false offer on the NHS. Which we all know the Tories want to sell off to American companies.
But it worked because bien pensants (like me, at the time) amplified it.
We were all outraged at the bus lie, so we explained all day long how it wasn't true.
We suckered for the frame. Thereby endlessly repeating "£350 million" and "spend £350 million on the NHS".
It was the best advertising Vote Leave ever had - and WE gave it to them FOR FREE
How this approach works for the Lib Dems. 1. Like Trump's brain farts, these distortions of reality get them publicity 2. As with the Tories' famous comic sans memes, engaged people amplify them with ridicule 3. Low-information people see the bar chart in passing & think 'wow!'
Jo Swinson's claim to be in with a genuine chance of being Prime Minister should be understood in the context of these misleading graphics.
You hear her say it, then see the bar chart. That's why both are repeated so often.
It's their £350m lie.
Or, Mexico will pay for the wall
They have internalised the victories of Trump & Brexit.
It's been going on for a while, with the careful crafting of false narratives.
Another day, another #r4today vox pop in a northern Labour seat with angry elderly 'I was Labour all my life but...' people. There is an inevitable sample bias if you walk around the streets on a work/college day.
Anyway, let me tell you a bit more about vox pops.
In broadcast there are templates for a 'package'. They always include some 'colour'. That's what the vox pop is. It's just a production device, of little more value than the 'set up shot', where you see an interviewee walking past the camera before you hear them speak.
The vox pop simply breaks up the item a bit. Production value.
Because media literacy is quite low in the general population I imagine many casual news consumers don't know this & think they are conveying 'news'.
Be ready for industrial scale false promises, lies & smears from Johnson's Vote Leave team. Tory scorched earth time is coming.
As Tacitus said: "To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and they call it peace." #generalelection2019
Be alert for the whole panoply of online tricks too;
- Tory troll accounts (designed to sap your energy)
- pathetic Tory memes (designed to make you amplify via mockery)
- false information about events, stats etc (remember the Vote Leave bus - a stat made famous by 'debunking')
Downing St wants you to kick off about him not signing the letter.
This is a perfect example of Lakoffian framing.
The fact is that an unelected Prime Minister has again been humiliated by an elected Parliament.
A short explainer...
To win the PR air war you need to be first, with a fresh message, no matter the setback you just suffered. That's how you manipulate the media. By giving them a new story, to distract from the bad story.
Vote Leave (which is basically now the government) has been very adept at this.
Remember when the Electoral Commmission ruled that Vote Leave had broken electoral law? They instantly declared the EC as "politically biased".
I'm not saying Tory activists placed the unhelpful banner on the bridge in Manchester.
I am saying it's the sort of stunt that provides useful content for Tory activists to smear opponents with on Twitter.
All one can say with certainty is it was definitely put there by idiots.
It reminds me of when someone sent a threatening note to one of Zac Goldsmith's constituents & he was onto it like a rat up a pipe. We never knew who'd done that, of course (or indeed if it was real), but I hope we found out which idiots did this stupid, unhelpful banner
The point is that if you're going to pull stupid stunts like that, you may as well go in to bat for the other side. The effect is the same.