The failure of anyone to take meaningful control of the country in the wake of the General Election says a great deal about the hype that the media work up as a cappuccino froth of sound bites. It felt like going to a bad movie – the trailer was exceptional but the movie itself is overlong and a terrible letdown.
We may have had debates, but the analogue TV hype didn’t change voters’ hearts. We may have seen an upsurge of the digital agenda, but Twitter and the new transparency still doesn’t reach the soul of the country, doesn’t reach the grassroots. The election has forced us to question the people pulling the strings.
As Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems slug out a coalition, power-sharing or some other solution, the media and politicians are running to catch up with the fact that they spent all night rubbishing the exit polls (which turned out to be correct) and creating hours of vacuous TV that did not capture the public mood.
It’s a communications issue – the metropolitan and media elite are just not listening to what general populace are and have been saying, whether it’s the stream of complaints about Andrew Neil’s vacuous filler with D List celebs during the BBC’s election broadcast, the graphics and polls that say nothing to anyone, or the fact that the nation wants a change and has no real way, in the current voting system, of effecting it. I guess those that had a vested interest in this arena had to keep canvassing and using the pre-election hyperbole.
And as it turned out, there was no Clegg-mania, just a Parliament-wide decrease in trust. No record numbers at the polls – a few got high turns outs but only a few. After all the hyperbole and the grand predictions, it was little more than a damp squib. For the most part, the great unwashed had heard all the hype many times before and were not about to be converted to any other cause by digital means, or by the smug assumptions of the media or politicians. The only swing was towards dissatisfaction, and there’s no electronic gadget that can show that.
The media and the Westminster village are terribly insular and just don’t seem to get that there is an upsurge of people who have spotted that they’ve been hoodwinked. The public, in their indifference to manipulations, may yet shake up the cosy status quo – this has been, on all levels, an election about wrestling for control.
But the weekend has seen the Westminster village fighting hardest for control – the political classes have been keeping us away from the real issues by using the media as a canvas to paint and posit theories as to how the aftermath of the hung parliament might play out. Realpolitik and the bitter truths of the brutal practicalities of coalition have been hidden. The media have been spreading the same facts in slightly different packaging all over the news for days, feeding us what the politicians perceive to be good for us, rather than the truth.