A fact-check for silly Cameron apologists

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Media manipulation: The Sun, and the Scottish Sun, supported both the Conservatives and the SNP on the same day. Did it affect the results in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Here’s a piece in the New Statesman that is worth debunking straight away. Entitled 10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for, it makes assertions that suggest to This Writer that it is author Ian Leslie who’s been having dodgy visions.

Let’s focus on three:

“1. THE MEDIA DID IT

“No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.

“3. CLEVER TORIES

“It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.

“5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY

“It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.”

Firstly, nobody is blaming the media entirely for voters’ insistence on self-destructively supporting the Tories. The media helped hammer the Tory messages home, by amplifying Cameron’s statements and ignoring or vilifying Miliband’s. After a while – and in accordance with Goebbels’ (Cameron is a big fan of Goebbels) claims about The Big Lie – people start believing the claims they see most often.

This is why Conservative claims must be challenged at every opportunity from now on. Whenever a Tory puts forward a policy in the papers, on the Internet and social media or wherever, let’s try to put the questions in front of them that deflate their claims. It has been said that a lie can go around the world before the truth gets out of bed; let’s kill The Big Lie before it can get its shoes on.

Secondly, nobody This Writer knows is saying anything at all about “ruthlessly efficient” Tories. This lot are about as stupid as they come. It’s just a shame – and this was a constant problem for bloggers like Yr Obdt Srvt – that nobody in the Labour leadership saw fit to counter the silly Tory claims with a few ounces of fact. Therefore we must conclude that, not only are the Tories monumental imbeciles; most of Labour were, as well.

This is why the Conservative Party as a whole should be undermined at every opportunity. Whenever they make bold claims about their record – especially against that of the last Labour government – let’s put up a few embarrassing facts to pull the wool out from under them.

Finally, nobody but the SNP and its supporters is making any claim that the SNP’s “tidal wave” – alone – stopped Labour. As This Writer has already mentioned (and the election result was only known yesterday), the Conservative Party used the threat of an SNP surge to put fear into Middle England that “loonie-left” Labour would ally with these crazed Caledonians, to the detriment of the nation. Amazingly, people were gullible enough to believe it.

But you don’t have to take This Writer’s word for it. Here’s Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, from his latest Mainly Macro article [italics mine]:

“Why do I say Cameron is lucky? First, largely by chance (but also because other countries had been undertaking fiscal austerity), UK growth in 2014 was the highest among major economies. This statistic was played for all it was worth. Second, although (in reality) modest growth was not enough to raise real incomes, just in the nick of time oil prices fell, so real wages have now begun to rise. Third, playing the game of shutting down part of the economy so that you can boast when it starts up again is a dangerous game, and you need a bit of fortune to get it right. (Of course if there really was no plan, and the recovery was delayed through incompetence, then he is luckier still.)

“The Scottish independence referendum in September last year was close. 45% of Scots voted in September to leave the UK. One of the major push factors was the Conservative-led government. If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014, it would have been a disaster for Cameron: after all, the full title of his party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. That was his first piece of Scottish fortune. The second was that the referendum dealt a huge blow to Labour in Scotland. Labour are far from blameless here, and their support had been gradually declining, but there can be no doubt that the aftermath of the referendum lost them many Scottish seats, and therefore reduced their seat total in the UK.

“Yet that led to a third piece of luck. The SNP tidal wave in Scotland gave him one additional card he could play to his advantage: English nationalism. The wall of sound coming from the right wing press about how the SNP would hold Miliband to ransom was enough to get potential UKIP supporters to vote Conservative in sufficient numbers for him to win the election.”

While I’m not convinced about the UKIP claim (UKIP’s vote share enjoyed the largest increase of any of the parties in Thursday’s election) the rest rings true.

You have already heard an awful lot of hogwash about the reasons for the Conservative Party’s slim win. Don’t believe everything you hear.

It’s long past time that facts and evidence were reintroduced to politics.

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13 thoughts on “A fact-check for silly Cameron apologists

  1. HomerJS

    I totally agree with the need to bring more facts and evidence to the debate, particularly the facts. The public don’t realise that a lot of the media don’t want to give you the facts – they are more focussed on the propaganda. We need people, especially politicians, to correct untruths immediately and vociferously.

  2. hstorm

    Regarding the UKIP factor, I actually suspect the tide of English Nationalism, or to put it more precisely, anti-Scottish-Nationalism, pushed some Labour supporters into voting *for* UKIP.

  3. robin-mcburnie

    Well Said!

    I posted the following yesterday once the outcome was becoming clear on Facebook:

    So the intermediate analysis is: Many people when polled before yesterday were too “shy” (cowardly, ashamed) to admit the they may vote Tory. Many of them and others took the view that they were worried by the idea of a Labour government, due to believing the heavy negative campaigning conducted by the Tories and heavily amplified by the large right-wing sector of the media. The BBC on the face of it have a case to answer in this too.

    So lessons, the positive message needs more amplification than the opposition’s negativity can muster. And a gradual campaign to make voting for dodgy parties seen as Socially unacceptable should be started forthwith!

    I really think the Left needs to sort a way of getting positive messages across, in a way that encourages people to actually pay attention to them. The Sun, etc. are in a position such that the very lazy negative messages are easy to get in front of a lot of people, often the “floating” voters. I do believe the BBC has failed in it’s duty, and has been since the Dr Kelly incident, under Labour at that time.

    At the moment you already have to have an interest to find the positive message from the Left and to find the truth, rather than Right-wing dis-ingenuity. This is what we have to find a way to counter (as you say)!

  4. Ian

    I think there’s some truth in the idea that both campaigns (and parties) were rubbish but the one that shouted the loudest – via the press – won. I don’t believe the press won it for the Tories but the sheer volume of anti Labour babble must have an effect on the more gullible, scared, selfish and nasty amongst us.

    There’s a joke from George Carlin that applies here: just think how stupid the average person is then realize half the people are even stupider than that. It is the dumb, the fearful and the ignorant that vote Conservative. Those who will stick with what hey know despite it being so blatantly against their best interests. They think that if everybody in the papers is against Labour there must be something in it. No smoke without fire.

    This brings me to the BBC. I think w noticed how supinely uncritical of this government the BBC has been, the problem there is the public generally believe the BBC isa fair, unbiased news organisation when it really is not. So if people never see a critical story about the government on the Ten O’clock News then things must be okay. We know different, though.

    Labour’s timidity was more to blame than any great tactical genius on the Conservatives’ part. It was shocking how they refused to defend their actual record against the lies of the Tories. They also made the mistake of adopting unnecessary austerity economics, that made it difficult to criticize Tory austerity. Austerity lite in itself sounds pathetic and half hearted.

    My mother was on the bus to town on Wednesday and got talking to somebody we know. This lass, my age, said she was voting Tory to pay the debt off. In other respects she isn’t Conservative or even political but she bought into that because that’s the narrative that was pushed most – debt that Labour left us with. If Labour had the bottle they could have countered that. Maybe said something about the economic balls up Osborne has made.

    I think Labour need to save up for the next four and a half years and buy a *lot* of billboard space. If the papers won’t play there has t be another means of getting the message across. As well as a better message to get across.

    And please, Labour Party, do not elect another professional type MP as leader. Not another MP who seems to know the theory and has read all the books, probably on a PPE degree, but knows nothing about people. A real person is needed, hopefully with a recognisably human voice instead of that speak-your-policy automaton thing the Labour upper echelons seem to go for. Somebody who can speak to real people in a voice they understand in terms that don’t alienate instead of pushing buzz phrases and corporate speak. Labour already give the impression of favouring the elites and business and since Blair, every chance they got they parroted the same old corporatespeak, rolling this out, delivering that, providers, solutions… You know the stuff.

    Social media is going to be important too.

  5. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Absolutely agree about keeping the tories under the microscope. Can’t blame the Lib Dems now can they? It’ll be all down to them. I am on tenterhooks waiting for the FoI details about benefit deaths you requested Mike and if as I suspect, the stats show that a large number of people have died, I will be involving my newly elected Labour MP (who is an ex lawyer) to challenge the tories on it.

  6. Guy Ropes

    Miliband unfortunately had no pretensions of being a statesman. His brother did but that’s history. Their own fault. “The BBC has failed in it’s duty, and has been (sic) since the Dr Kelly incident, under Labour at that time”. This incident and others which happened on Labour’s watch, presented them with golden opportunities if they were anything other than ‘yes’ men. One expects Tories to be so, but not – coz we’ve been ‘told’ that they aren’t – the Labour party. Sorry, even their most ‘radical’ ones are. Whilst the BBC has been mentioned, why haven’t they been criticised for their quite appalling coverage of events (such as they were) in the hour after the polls closed. I believe that they completely missed the 4th declaration (at Swindon?). ITV weren’t much better, persistently showing Labour as having taken 6 seats when a total of only 3 seats had been declared. This didn’t change when the 4th and 5th seats declared. Both channels were guilty of not showing vote totals on their news bars. Trying to find data on the BBC’s election red button service was a non-starter; there wasn’t any. Nor was there any on their ordinary text service. But then it always seems as if the BBC have work experience juniors running their text service on subjects that require a little knowledge (because hey, it’s only for old people who can’t work a computer or a mobile). Swing-ometer fixated, Auntie spends five years searching for “new” methods of imparting facts and figures which the election throws up. The futile ’tile’ installation was childish beyond belief. Do we need or want ‘art’ with our facts and figures; I think not. The Guardian is little better in their election pull-out today. If one wanted to know the fate of, say John McDonnell (or any sitting MP), it wasn’t discernible (quickly) unless you knew the name of their constituency. But then no one other than dyed in the wool Labour supporters probably would. A poor effort.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I agreed with just one part of that – the fact that you couldn’t find out the fate of particular MPs unless you knew their constituency.
      Apart from that, I had all the information about voting numbers from the BBC website, and I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make about the BBC and Labour and the Kelly affair.

  7. joanna

    Mike Could I ask a question? Why do we have to use a Pencil to mark our cross where we want it on the ballot paper? when pencil can be easily erased!! Are we children not to be trusted with a pen? Why doesn’t anyone question that? if it is a valid point? I might be a tad too paranoid but I do Not trust government bodies Ever!!!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Having been to election counts, I can assure you that, once your vote goes into a ballot box, it stays there until the box is unlocked at the count, where many, many people with a vested interest in ensuring that no tampering takes place are looking on.

  8. Charles Loft

    Two reasons the Tories won, Many more Lib/Dem seats that fell went to the Tories, and while UKIP affected some previously Labour seats, UKIP had very little influence on Tory seats. But few slim majority governments have lasted more than a year or so. The Wilson/ Callaghan one did the full term, but they were immensely talented people, which Cameron is NOT.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Major’s 1992 government went the distance, though.
      … Which is not to denigrate what you’re saying – I very much hope you’re right.

  9. hugosmum70

    i dont believe the tories got in by anything but foul means. too many things dont add up.i went to bed at 5am on election night. labour were in the lead .not by a lot admitted but there were still quite a few left to declare.was woken up by my sister giving me the bad news that cameron had got in again. i didnt believe her.but of course she was right.what about all these areas where labour names were left off ballot sheets (ukip as well. no doubt others too) but not one that ive read about has had tory candidates left off.what happened to all those ballot sheets that went missing with that van?we all know they are capable of underhandedness. someone was to blame for closing the polling stations early last time. was inevitable they would do something to make sure they won this time too.im not alone. the march on downing street since the results were announced. 2000 people at least all believing the same thing.thats only a fraction of the ill disabled,unemployed. and elderly who also believe the same thing.

  10. Shaun

    Mike, I could not agree more. The above are the issues most Blairites/ New Labour conveniently pass around when they state we’ll only get Labour in power if we move to the centre. For numerous general elections I heard this misleading and exaggerated statement of self-importance. In my experience what this actually means is we must choose a leader and policies that are expectable to England’s media barons and the business leaders of the FTSE 100 companies. It is promoted by these plutocrats at the point in the political cycle when the electorate is in the process of realizing they have been had by a Tory government that has served two terms in office. Or to put it another way, at the moment when the electorate is distrustful and fed-up with unrestrained greed and its consequences for them. That is the point when they are most likely to elect an alternative party with a different set of policies. It is in this perspective that the choice needs to be considered; not when an election has been lost at the end of the Tory’s first term in office. At this moment in the political cycle it is still possible for the Tories to run the lie that things have just started to get better and you’ll all be better off in the next 5 years, providing you keep taking the foul tasting medicine. Presumably, it is that the end of the second term in government. when promises have not materialised, and so the threat of defeat that the establishment is forced to offer its conditional support to a potential Labour government. To be straight, if I’m still here, if affective protest is still possible and with there being virtually nothing left of the welfare state, we might as well take the risk and see if the degree of disillusionment is sufficient to elect a proper Labour party rather than a moderate Tory party in Labour guise; for, by then we’ll have nothing left to loose.

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