The last week of an election campaign is always the most brutal. Expect fear and smear to punctuate the poisonous path to the finishing line.
Wall-to-wall coverage of the appalling events on London Bridge was inevitable. It was the third UK terrorist attack in as many months after Westminster Bridge and the Manchester Ariana Grande Concert – the worst terrorist incidents in the UK since 56 people were killed in the London bombings on 7 July 2005. And it was another act of appalling, sickening cowardice. While we saw the worst of humanity, we again saw the best with people going out of their way to help victims. The spirit of London and Manchester will never die. One love!
Extensive coverage is a hard call for the media as exposure helps spread fear against the continued reminder that another terrorist attack remains highly likely. In the rush to be first misinformation is often spread. It was wrong, for example, for early news reports to link an unrelated incident in Vauxhall on the same night with the atrocities on London Bridge and in Borough market.
This election was supposed to be about who would be best to negotiate on our behalf so the EU don’t have us for breakfast over Brexit. Instead security has been thrust to the forefront.
Security is more the Tories' territory. Theresa May pointed out "enough is enough" and there could be increased prison terms for even minor terrorism offences. The PM went on to say: “We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.” Support has already been voiced by the likes of foreign secretary Boris Johnson in a well-crafted soundbite: “The wells of tolerance are running empty.”
Corbyn has already come under fire for linking terrorist attacks in the UK with foreign interventions such as in Iraq and his security record has been called into question, with Johnson slamming Corbyn as a “threat to national security”. Corbyn has also sought to distance himself from some of his own past comments – including his declaration in a BBC interview in 2015 that “he was not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general” on Britain’s streets. To ensure he was not again quoted out of context, in response to the London Bridge atrocity Corbyn sought to clarify that he would “…take whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people and our country.”
Having still not received the call to host Countdown in light of her phenomenal failure with figures, Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary, was recently questioned on the Andrew Marr Show over her previous views on terrorism and banned organisations. The shadow home secretary compared her IRA views to changing hairstyles saying she had an afro 34 years ago. “The hairstyle has gone and some of the views have gone.”
In the midst of an election it is no surprise that fear has been politicised.
Fear of a bad Brexit. Fear of being left bankrupt in old age. Fear of terrorism.
As the PR pioneer Edward Bernays acknowledged, fear is a far more powerful motivational trigger than love or joy.
While politicians from all sides – except UKIP – claimed to have officially paused campaigning – albeit briefly – the reality is as much time was spent in front of the cameras condemning the atrocities and showing just how strong and stable they are.
So in the sprint for the finish line over the next few days, expect to see politicians on all sides playing to our fears and showing how they are the ones to keep us safe.
We should also expect to see the usual last-minute shock revelations whether from email hacks, u-turns, changed views, fluffed figures, lack of preparation or exposure of sexual and other impropriety.
As Matthew d’Ancona, a former editor of the Spectator, warns: “We have entered a new phase of political and intellectual combat, in which democratic orthodoxies and institutions are being shaken to their foundations by a wave of ugly populism” He goes on to concede the “honesty and accuracy are no longer assigned the highest priority in political exchange”.
In this post-truth era if you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed; if you do read the newspapers you are misinformed.
Over the next few days, expect the sultans of spin to go into overload in an effort to emulate the phenomenal success of Roger Stone, the notorious US political provocateur and star of the Netflix documentary ‘Get Me Roger Stone’.
The vilest of the pondlife will create smear campaigns and manufacture dissent.
Don't let facts stand in the way of a good story. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.
Expect to see more allegations of impropriety, from spit-roasting pigs to email hacks and name calling – mugwumps, dandiprats and gollumpuseses… all as well as sensational headlines designed to demean like the Sunday Sport’s: Jeremy Corbyn Sex Dwarf Eaten by Otters
Speaking of which, in a shock survey today it has been revealed that six out of seven dwarves are not happy!
But real eyes realise real lies!
We should continue to champion ethics, integrity and professionalism to advance the communications industry and its status within society. We must not let the lowest of the low bring the rest of the industry into disrepute.
…and so, as we read the peddled tripe over the next few days remember:
Why are we being told what we are being told?
Who is telling us? Turn the spotlight on the spin doctors.
What interest do they have in the story?
At the beginning of this roller coaster election I set out the recipe for ensuring victory.
Contrary to all of the pollsters, I also predicted the results with what will prove to be alarming accuracy.
I am proud of my 100% success rate in predicting the results of elections around the world, so watch this space…!
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