Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Polls, popularity and pictures

It would be nice if the recent poll that put the Tories just 6 points ahead of Labour could act as some sort of trigger for a proper political discussion in Britain today, but I fear it will not. Over the last couple of years, the mainstream political commentators have been telling us that Cameron's Tory party is now incredibly popular and that their poll lead was proof of this.

This was never the case.

The Tories held a significant lead over Labour not because the Tories were popular, but because Labour was unpopular - and the reason Labour became unpopular is that they were being led by a man that the media don't like. Gordon Brown's unpopularity had little to do with his policies which, by and large, are exactly the same as his predecessor who was very well liked by the press.

Gordon Brown became unpopular because the media decided this was to be the case and so began a long campaign of subtly drip feeding negativity about the man. They use tried and tested but remarkably discreet methods to do this - a favourite being a picture taken in an unflattering pose or poorly lit.

Throughout his time in office, hardly ever was there a poor photograph of Blair published -either in the newspapers or on online editions of MSM content. This isn't because poor pictures of Blair don't exist any more than good pictures of Brown don't exist - it is a deliberate policy by the MSM who employ experienced photo editors to ensure that the image of a person they publish conveys the image of that person they want to get across to the public.

Over the years they've got very good at this as they've had lots of practice - usually at the expense of previous Tory leaders such as Hague, IDS and Howard. Curiously, since Cameron became leader there seems to be a dearth of bad pictures of Tory leaders, but a wealth of damaging images of Mr Brown. This isn't a coincidence - the press like Cameron as he is considered the best man to continue the Blairite revolution which our press almost universally favour.

Unfortunately for the media, the electorate are not quite as gullible as they like to think so, despite their best efforts to talk up Cameron's Tory party, the Conservative party's share in opinion polls is little better than it was under Hague, IDS or Howard.

The MSM recognised this - and recognised the fact that even with a 15 point lead over Labour, the Tory share in polls was never going to be enough to translate into a victory at a General Election. Around 40% is nowhere near enough for the Conservatives. The first past the post system and constituency boundaries means that they would need to be polling somewhere over 50% to have a realistic chance of winning a decent working majority at an election.

So the MSM upped their campaign and became less subtle in their demonisation of Brown with daft stories about biscuits and then, critically, the overblown tirade over the letters to dead soldiers families. But this lack of subtlety has backfired - and rather than making Brown even less popular the electorate seems to have decided that it really isn't British to keep kicking a man when he is down. So Labour support has risen and Tory support has fallen.

I'm sick to death of a media which seems to think it has the right - as well as the capability - to decide who we elect as our leaders. Wouldn't it be nice if who we voted for was decided by the politics of the people and the policies of their parties rather than the elite of the MSM?


bernard said...

I think you'll find, Stan, that Brown was disliked long before the media decided he was unlikable.
It was his lies & bombast that did it for most people.
The media had it in for Mrs Thatcher for most of the early 80s, and there were plenty of unflattering shots of her too...in fact, the most popular show on ITV, spitting image, portrayed her as a hideous old crow in a pinstripe suit.
Did her no harm whatsoever.

Stan said...

Brown may have been hated, bernard - but the Labour party wasn't and still managed to do pretty well in opinion polls and elections!

Thatcher was hated by sections of the media, but adored by others - Brown has had unremitting negativity poured over him by all areas of the media since he came to power and he won't even have the legacy of a latex puppet to comfort him - lol

Demetrius said...

It is going to get rougher and nastier as the weeks go by. Anything could happen.