Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Screaming, bullying, laziness and voting for the opposition: Welcome to Wirral Labour party

27/08/2018, 10:32:25 AM

Uncut interviews veteran Labour official and northern legend, Sheila Murphy

“I’m holding onto my membership by my fingertips,” says an exasperated Sheila Murphy as we sit having coffee pondering the state of the party. It’s a sobering comment from Labour’s former top official in the north of England. However, she wants to voice her frustrations in public for the first time.

“I accept the left has have taken over. We’re a democratic party and I accept all that. I just think our electoral chances, both locally and nationally are at risk because of their behaviour,” she says.

What she means, it turns out, is a combination of bullying, extreme levels of micro-control and indolence from the hard left in her local party on the Wirral where she now lives, after retiring as the party’s former ‘super’ director covering the three northern regions.

“Forty-nine years a member and I’ve campaigned for every leader since Harold Wilson. I worked as hard for Michael Foot as I did for Tony Blair.”

For Sheila Murphy, campaigning for Labour is just second nature – but not to the thousands of new members that have flocked to the party under Jeremy Corbyn. Campaigning duties are still mainly carried out by the old hands who turn out to knock on doors, deliver leaflets or staff the phone banks, week in week out, all-year round.

Annoying though that is, she wants to speak out after facing bullying herself by some of the new members. “We have a new hard core whose behaviour is nasty, vicious, and controlling,” she says. “It’s a return to the factionalism of the 1980s. And we all know how that worked out.”

One recent incident saw a local male councillor scream in Murphy’s face demanding to know who had “given her permission” to be out door knocking. One of the women activists Murphy was with was so distraught she had to be driven home.

She reports this kind of aggravation and centralising control is now commonplace, but her major gripe concerns the behaviour of the hard left during the last local elections. Murphy was asked by the leader of the council and the local candidate to lead the campaign in a target ward as they tried to oust a Green councillor.

They lost, narrowly, by 72 votes. “We managed to speak to 4,000 people during the campaign and it was clear that some of our new members were actually voting Green,” she says. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

“We were knocking on these people’s doors and they were openly telling us they were voting Green instead of Labour and even had Green posters in their window.  I reported them to the Local Campaign Forum and was told: ‘It’s their choice’.” For good measure, the local branch even posted on their Facebook page that the Greens were not the problem – their Labour council was.

Banned from attending the branch by officers to offer a de-brief on the campaign, she had her efforts dismissed as “crap” by the local chair. Undaunted, she organised a “thank you” letter to voters. This act of defiance saw the chair post another message on Facebook, warning local people that the group out campaigning, which included the leader of the council (in his own ward), were not representing the Labour party.

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Brexit and Trump: A disaster for liberalism caused by liberal elites

21/11/2016, 08:02:27 AM

by Robert Wragg

2016 has borne witness to perhaps the biggest rise in anti-establishment anger in a generation, but it hasn’t come from the usual suspects. No longer is it the radical left protesting the political elite, but rather it is regular working class voters, and they’re looking to the right. Culminating in the British public’s vote to leave the European Union, and the election of Donald Trump in the USA, liberal left parties are struggling to gather enough support from the electorate. The same is true on both sides of the pond, as in many others countries. So why is this happening?

In both the EU referendum and US presidential election, socially democratic and liberal parties failed to recognise that they had lost the support of the working-class voters, or where they did accept this, proclaimed those people to be simply ‘wrong’ in their growing dissatisfaction with liberal ideas, framing them as racists or bigots with neither the numbers nor the power to influence the vote. Proponents of liberalism refused to engage with them. Instead, they continued to provide more of the same moral superiority and neo-liberal economic, socially liberal package, with an ‘end of history’ style arrogance. In doing so they appealed only to those whose vote they had already won, their ideas bouncing around the echo chamber that is social media, reinforcing their feelings of righteousness.

Alienation of working class voters from the establishment in the UK, and alienation of white non-college educated individuals from the establishment in the USA – the story is the same; a political elite pushing a hegemonic ideology of social liberalism with such hubris that it either doesn’t notice, or chooses to ignore, the fact that huge swathes of the population simply no longer agree with the dominant position, largely because it hasn’t offered them anything. It is no surprise that the same individuals look elsewhere for opportunities to hit back at the establishment.

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The cult of the Labour doorstep does more harm than good

08/03/2016, 10:31:28 PM

by Jon Bounds

For the ‘sensible establishment’ supporters of Labour’s pre-Corbyn core comes a new standard to which the rest of Labour’s membership must be held: time on the doorstep.

The idea that knocking on doors providing up to date voter data (oh, and having ‘conversations’, although in what form we’re never really told) is the only route of activism available to the foot-soldiers.

Having an opinion is frowned-upon until a certain amount of dues-paying doorstepping has been completed.

A Red Wedge-style series of fund- and awareness-raising gigs with high profile names is dismissed as meaningless in electoral terms. Unless enough doors have been knocked on.

Labour far outshone the Conservatives in doorstep conversations in May last year. But, if knocking on doors alone won elections, it wouldn’t be the Labour party in power: it would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In coalition with meter readers and Betterware franchisees.

Social media may be an echo chamber, but its connections and volume still matters.

It’s where people are — but crucially most see no substantive delineation between platforms, between local and national issues, nor between ‘real life’ and the real people they communicate with online*.

That’s why Tom Watson’s digital project, and what it comes out with is so important: we do need to be able to understand how the psychology of people plays out as a whole. That includes conversations around unity in the media, and on the web. And it includes targeted digital interactions.

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You WON’T believe what this article tells you about the people emailing you

22/11/2014, 12:20:04 PM

by Joe Reddington

Let’s talk about click bait.  It’s one of the scourges of the modern internet.  Advertisers pay by the view so the incentives for websites are to get people to click on the page regardless of if the page is relevant or informative. That’s why you see headlines like “You wouldn’t believe what this middle-class mum does for money” rather than “Middle-class mum buys ice-cream van”.   It’s a fundamentally dishonest form of advertising used to drive up some numbers while simultaneously making the world a less truthful place.

Which brings me to the subject lines of the emails that the Labour party sends to members:

mail pic  What’s the problem? The problem is this is so obviously click-bait. If I get an email from an address that seems familiar with the subject line “Thank you” I’m going to assume I did something nice for someone and I click on it half expecting a nice warm glow instead of the deep disappointment that I’ve been tricked into opening a campaign email.

“Telling you first”

You are “telling me first”? I suspect not, I suspect that you are telling millions of people on your email list first, many of whom open your email expecting to be told something useful and urgent only to find that it’s standard political boilerplate.

Do we really want to put obvious and direct untruths into the subject line?  I mention it only because teaching the voters to make a connection between the Labour Party and direct untruths might be, you know, suboptimal…
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In defence of porn (or at least, sensible public policy)

26/07/2013, 03:27:12 PM

by Sam Fowles

“Opting in” to porn is a band aid for a cancer. If our leaders truly care about the next generation they must forget about ineffectual pseudo censorship and tackle the underlying issues: a dearth of proper sex education and a public discourse that treats women as little more than wax models.

Conservatives are migrating home for the summer, or at least returning to political home ground. David Cameron’s “war on porn” is, from this perspective, a PR coup. Convincing his more swivel eyed party members, aghast at the imminent prospect of gay marriage, that he’s just as rooted in the social values of the 1950s as he is the economic values of the 1930s.

But, as so often happens in public policy, in all the cacophony of (male) politicians and (male) tabloid editors reminding us all that they don’t like porn, two important questions have been ignored: What is the problem we’re trying to solve? And: Will our proposed solution be effective?

Unfortunately it seems like the answers are respectively: “Not sure” and “probably not”. There is a problem with sexual morality in this country. One in three girls report inappropriate sexual touching at school, 750 000 children per year witness domestic violence and a third of teenage girls have experienced sexual violence by a partner. However, it’s unclear whether the PM actually wants to tackle this incredibly significant issue or whether he just thinks porn is a bit icky. If it is the latter then he’s about to perpetrate a fairly serious affront to civil liberties in the name of a morality that Elizabeth Bennet would find constricting. If it is the former then his proposed solution just won’t work.

In terms of the practical aspects of how internet filters will actually work, Alex Hern gives a thorough overview of the problems in the New Statesman. In essence, the generation that this measure aims to prevent accessing porn highly internet literate. It’s virtually inevitable that a way around the filters will spread throughout the country in a matter of days.

In addition a significant amount of porn is user generated. This has a more insidious social effect than the stereotypical badly lit, excruciatingly scripted, commercially made porn. While one may make women feel like they must objectify and demean themselves in order to satisfy or get attention from men and men feel like they must demean and objectify the women in their lives in order to “be a man”, the other is the manifestation of that actually happening. Yet an “opt in” porn filter will have absolutely no effect on the social media sites through which this content is shared. Unless David Cameron wants to ban Facebook, Tumblr and Snapchat (in which case he can probably wave a merry goodbye to the Generation Y vote) an “opt in” mechanism for is essentially useless.

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Sally Bercow and the slaughter in Woolwich shows why we can’t put social media back in a box

28/05/2013, 02:36:58 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Citizen journalism is perhaps a rather grand term to describe a person with a smartphone capable of pressing an ‘app’ and pointing it at a commotion, however its effect has now revolutionised the visual media, as we saw in all too stark terms last week.

The heinous murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich and its aftermath was quickly whizzing round cyberspace allowing us to see, graphically, the tale of horror that was being cautiously relayed by the mainstream media.

The term ‘media’ never used to need this caveat. The term was exclusively reserved for newspapers and broadcasters. Now, the technical utility of a smartphone allows everyone to publish and broadcast. We are all the media.

It may be shaky and grainy, but we are getting used to unexpurgated and contemporaneous footage undercutting broadcasters and newspapers’ monopoly in telling us the truth. It is utterly changing our understanding and reaction to major events.

Now, we decide for ourselves. Uploaded to YouTube, this unshackled truth is, to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, up and halfway around the world before the context gets its boots on.

This is the challenge facing modern editors and news outlets, judging how far to go in matching its pace. Sit too long on these first-eye accounts and the readers will simply find them elsewhere on the web. Edit their usage and stand accused of censorship or bias. Use them and stand accused of sensationalism or in that hoary old term, giving terrorists the oxygen of publicity.

In a piece for the New Statesman last week, Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, a think tank exploring issues of identity and integration, said it was ‘a shame’ that no newspaper front pages the day after the killing of Drummer Rigby ‘inverted the lens’.

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Why nobody “likes” Ed Miliband

10/04/2012, 07:00:49 AM

by Peter Goddard

Who likes Ed Miliband? Not the world of Facebook apparently. A quick look at each of the party leaders’ Facebook pages shows David Cameron out in front with 160,514 “likes”, Nick Clegg on 85,488 and Ed Miliband on 13,942.

It seems that Ed is trailing when it comes to the personal touch. Not that any of them are doing stratospherically well in comparison to some of Facebook’s most loved; for example Barack Obama clocks in with just under 26 million “likes” while Rhianna has a little over 54 million admirers.

OK, it’s hardly surprising that none of the leaders can touch the popularity of a US President or a foxy pop sensation, and posting exclusive pics of Ed Miliband in a boob tube probably isn’t the way forward, but these numbers do provide some idea of the potential benefits and audience available from a canny use of social media.

A quick visit to the Labour website indicates the party has some awareness of this. The site is well laid out and clean. It has a clear set of calls to action – it offers you options of joining, volunteering and donating most obviously.

Below this, it provides a neat set of active opportunities for the visitor including “protect pensioners” and “defend working families”.

It’s clear that some learnings from the social media side of things have been applied, demonstrated by the live feed of “recent actions” which shows us what other people are supporting and campaigning for.

The only problem is, Labour.org.uk is not a diverse social media site, it is a special interest site. Whilst they are useful, these functions are primarily preaching to the converted.

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Politicians need to engage not constrain bloggers

30/08/2011, 09:57:31 AM

by Peter Watt

I had an interesting conversation this week with someone who still works inside the political bubble. They recounted how they had been trying to persuade a member of the shadow cabinet (I was going to say “senior shadow cabinet”, but everyone always does) on the merits of the Labour blogosphere. The shadow cabinet member was irritated that they were suddenly expected to take bloggers seriously. Why, they contended, should they have to take this self-appointed group of experts on nothing seriously? After all, all they seem to do is moan, criticise and complain. Of course, the same thing could be said of many journalists.

I have some sympathy with this Luddite shadow cabinet member. The rules have changed, suddenly we are all experts and commentators. Stories break and are commented on faster and faster. Trying to manage a story or maintain message discipline is increasingly difficult. The internet, Facebook, Twitter and the like have all meant that even if you wanted to run a command and control political operation, it would be pretty bloody difficult.

There is a problem here though. Political parties still want to operate as if they can control the message, in the same way that they did five or ten years ago. On the whole it worked then after all. Decide what you are going to say, and then say it often without deviation. As Ed Miliband discovered recently, it can occasionally sound a bit odd. But sound bites are only a manifestation of the truism of the goldfish like attention span of the average voter after all. Well, when it comes to listening to what politicians say that is. (more…)

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Politicians can’t hide on Twitter

15/11/2010, 12:02:55 PM

by India Knight

If it weren’t for social media – Twitter, specifically – I would never have known that Kerry McCarthy shares my fascination with Jacob Rees-Mogg (though it’s a thin line, isn’t it, between fascination and, um, the baser longings? Just saying). The world would still turn. The stars would still glint away in the sky. Labour politics would still feel a bit like we’d travelled back to some doleful time in the Eighties, with Neil Kinnock droning on tragically about the rightful order being restored and all being well. But the world – my world, at any rate – would be a drabber place. I love that McCarthy tweets from the chamber with barely-concealed trepidation whenever Rees-Mogg stands up to speak. The juxtaposition of the solemnity of the business at hand and of normal human behaviour delights me every time.

Prior to this, I was dimly aware of the existence of the member for Bristol East, but being a punter rather than a lobby hack or a politician, that was pretty much it. I’d never have read her blog, for instance, or any other MP’s, a) because nobody was holding a gun to my head and b) because I thought that reading politicians’ blogs – as opposed to political ones – would be as jolly as hunkering down for a riotous night in with some fabian society policy reports and a macramé project. (Obviously, I realise that this is some people’s idea of the most terrific fun, and I can only apologise for my own lamentable shallowness).

It’s a hackneyed old chestnut that politicians are “all the same”, but it’s a tenacious chestnut that not only endures but has recently grown, richly fertilised by ye olde expenses, to mega-chestnut, Chestnut of Doom proportions. Politicians of all parties are broadly perceived as, variously, pompous, monomaniacal dullards, disengaged freakazoids, Pooterish nobodies or hideously corrupt – sometimes, treat of treats, all four at once. (more…)

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Web guru Jon Bounds on Jim Garner’s social media campaign

31/05/2010, 03:27:36 PM

Styling himself the ‘choice candidate’, the new MP for South Luxton and Wetfield is honest: “the Labour Party […] is on its arse“, he says, flanked not by hangers-on and Sky News flunkies but by the real grassroots. And some trees, too.

From a standing start, the Jim Garner for Labour leader campaign has taken the social web by storm in the space of a quiet Bank Holiday, with Garner himself answering questions on Twitter and opening up on YouTube.

They haven’t had time to connect up the Flickr stream yet, but it’s all part of the open, beta, transparent Nuevo Labour #teamJim ethos.

The quick success of Garner’s campaign is the inevitable result of the race to the womb; for someone with no history of having made decisions, taken positions, or held views… except on Twirls. Which Jim Garner definitely doesn’t like.

Every other candidate has a background which they either need to talk around or gloss over.  Except Garner.  He is possibly the greatest example of what has passed for change in British politics over the last few years.

And with no substance or policy, he’s a candidate that everyone can believe in — say nothing and you can say nothing wrong.

And say nothing on the Internet and you can fool yourself that you’re saying it to everyone.

Share and Enjoy.

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