European Politics U.K. Politics

The Strangest of All Hot Takes: #piggate 2015

So a rather explosive reveal has occurred, with Lord Ashcroft – apparently none-too-pleased about not getting a greater position in government – serialising his new biography of David Cameron in the Daily Mail (which the newspaper helpfully reported under the title ‘REVENGE’ in case we were unsure of motives). Of course the allegation that life sometimes veers way too close to a Black Mirror episode has taken over the UK internet.

As it goes I’m cautious about affecting a gun-ho attitude to this because we don’t actually have confirmation of the pig incident. Obviously this type of story is perfect since it captures the imagination (my first reaction upon waking up and seeing it was ‘OH MY GOD, TWITTER WILL BE AMAZING FOR DAYS’), people run with it, denials just draw more attention, and the ‘not dignifying with an answer’ statement makes it seem to many like you’re being evasive. Basically there is no real way of proving you didn’t do something like this even if you actually didn’t.

I say this as someone who is against Cameron and his ideologies; this doesn’t actually change the way I view him. Partially it’s just general low expectations. Cameron was and is part of elitist societies which poorly treat those they view as below them. All allegations seem par for the course.

Still it is quite significant that loads of people can read it and not simply say straight out of hand that it is completely ridiculous. It’s the exact type of story that people instinctively think is true about a certain type of person. It’s the exact type of story which – focused on many other MPs – wouldn’t gain the same kind of traction without concrete proof because it would read like a fantasy.

In essence Cameron, whether or not Lord Ashcroft’s book is true, is a individual who the public can believe would have sex with a dead pig as a drunken jape in university. And, with how the public feels about that sort of thing, that really is a pretty big indictment regardless of anything else.

European Politics U.K. Politics

Snap View: #BattleForNumber10

I spent this morning sitting down and watching #BattleForNumber10 (because hashtags are so in this season). The joy of not having a TV is being unable to watch things live so instead of joining in the conversation yesterday evening I woke up today, cooked up some pasta, got some work out of the way, then sat down and watched it with a cup of tea.

It’s the first of these leadership debates, and it was certainly interesting watching. I cheered at the aggressive return of Paxman who clearly has been relishing the opportunity to verbally maul people for a while. I noted the more aggressive approach Burley seemed to have taken with Miliband, and definitely concluded that – at least now – I would not make a good impartial moderator.

And I agree with a lot of the analysis – Cameron would probably have fairer slightly better in a head-to-head, but I think that honestly Cameron would have fairer even better without any debates. He has to argue he’ll make things better despite having had an opportunity to do so for the past five years, whilst Miliband’s giant problem is not looking like a leader. The more chances you give him to be on T.V then more chances he gets to break that perspective. I’m not against this – I am no Tory – but as someone interested in tactics it must suck to go into televised debates knowing that in the last election they drove you into a coalition government. In my view the broadcast kept Cameron at a fairly neutral position; if you thought he was terrible you still did, if you thought he was a statesman you still did. He came across as a politician, including the politician’s tendency to try and weasel out of answers, but Miliband came across as engaging, quite frankly spoken, and passionate.

And yet after looking around online I was surprised to see there were a fair amount of people for whom the conclusion was the inverse. I suppose that in the end we strive to find points that shore up our own bias so I must have been picking up things that supported my preferred end result. Perhaps I was being a tad unfair in my assessment – maybe I was just more resistant to Burley going after the left-wing choice (although I don’t think so – I may need to rewatch) and giving Miliband too much of a pass on his lack of stats.

When it comes to elections though, I’m not really the vote that matters. Sure I do vote, but at the end of the day I am one of those people that will tend to vote for defined side of the political spectrum. I’m not going to vote right-wing and likely never will. I’m not part of that swath of uncommitted middle ground voters who could tip either way. So long as I am mobilised to go to the polls the main parties likely won’t waste their time courting me. That’s why I enjoy watching these debates – I get a good sense of what politician’s think the middle ground cares about, and then I get to pretend that I could be better (I totally could).

As it stands we’re looking at another coalition being formed in the days after May 7th. Hopefully the upcoming debates will tilt it to the side that I would prefer, and will shore up a more rational approach to hot button topics such as immigration which are increasingly becoming hysterical. Still, we’ve got a few more weeks to go before then.