Posts Tagged ‘Jon Bounds’

The EU referendum is Cameron’s mess. So of course the media try to blame Jeremy Corbyn

15/06/2016, 05:31:29 PM

by Jon and Libby Bounds

The leavers are rising in the polls and everyone is starting to get scared that they might actually win. And, of course, it’s Jeremy Corbyn’s fault.

It’s not unusual for Corbyn to come under attack, he doesn’t sing loud enough, or bow at the proper angle, and he baulks at the idea of mutual mass destruction. And we all know what Cameron thinks about his suit and tie. But what is odd is that this time around he’s effectively being criticised for not coming to the aid of his opponent in his hour of need.

David Cameron is struggling to get his message across. For the first time his privilege is not buying him an easy ride with an unusually un-supplicant press: and he’s looking to those with experience of not having everything their own way.

Cameron did not see this coming, but in many ways he is the architect of his own downfall. The establishment is trying to pin the blame on the Labour leadership but everything about this is a Tory mess. Even leaving aside that the very referendum is Cameron’s own fault – a self-serving promise to prevent haemorrhaging even more votes and party “loonies” to UKIP – the actions of the Tories have created a situation in which rational argument has lost its power and a new idiocracy rides the waves of ill-informed public opinion.

When Ed Miliband said that the media has focused on the “sexy blue-on-blue action” in covering the referendum campaign, he may have made Today programme listeners push away their boiled eggs, but he was right. Labour has been hamstrung in getting the socialist case for remaining in the EU across, not through a lack of passion, but through a lack of coverage.

Labour (and especially Ed) are used to this, but it is the first time that sections of the Conservatives have been on the wrong side of the tactics that they have spent the last 10 years developing.

So successfully have they terrified the BBC into a false version of impartiality they call ‘balance’, that ideas are never challenged, only countered. Lies are given equal weight to the truth.

And the right wing press doesn’t even have to pretend to be impartial. So if a view – or most frustratingly a fact – isn’t palatable to the owners and their editors then it will get the shortest of shrift. This is a problem. Yes, social media and the internet means that we can go beyond newspaper bias to get to more of the truth – but only if we have the time, critical analysis skills and networks to do so. (more…)

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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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Labour can be a movement again under Jeremy Corbyn

18/08/2015, 10:50:40 PM

by Jon Bounds

Despite derision from all corners of the media, and anger from the only corner of the Labour party that the media listens to, Jeremy Corbyn has been attracting crowds most politicians and even most pop stars can only dream about.

We live in a small town in Oxfordshire — Cameron country — where Labour are a distant third in all elections, and the Conservative social club is a signposted landmark and a social hub. My wife Libby is never one to shy away from a political discussion, despite being the daughter of a sometime Liberal Democrat councillor. At least once she has stopped to engage those having a fag outside ‘the Con club’ as it’s known and asked them their opinions on matters of the day.

Most of the time it happens with more respect and decorum than PMQs, even though, leaving aside the Chancellor, participants in these impromptu street exchanges are likely to be more intoxicated.

But do you know what? These proud Tories haven’t got a clue what is going on: they have no inkling that there has even been a Health and Social Care Act, let alone what  its impacts are. But these are the people, working class in the true economic sense and ‘aspirational’ — if that means that they are happy to work hard, desire have nice things and want look after their families and friends — and most of all they are the people that we have been told that the Labour party needs to win over in 2020.


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UKIP are nothing but useful idiots for capitalism’s ugliest forces

01/05/2014, 01:15:21 PM

by Jon Bounds

It’s easy to laugh at the racists and fruitcakes that make up the UK Independence Party roster of election candidates and councillors. Like clichéd children they do say the funniest things. But like kids they don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. UKIP exists for no other reason than to pull the country’s political discourse dangerously to the right and that’s so worrying because voters, members and even candidates and MEPs don’t realise.

UKIP members can’t be striving to take power to carry out their manifesto, because there is no coherent UKIP policy on anything to get behind. Poster boy Nigel Farage doesn’t know, care, or agree with the manifesto. He dismissed the plans with a comment about how he’d, “never read that. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” And that’s seemingly okay in a media environment that berates Labour for not having detailed spending plans years in advance.

Treasurer Stuart Wheeler has given the party £514, 957 since 2001 and he doesn’t know what their policies are either. Interviewed at a lunch for Eddie Mair’s PM he blustered, called for more wine, and had very little idea what was going on.

“We’ll launch it [the manifesto] after the European elections,” Farage says. After the election. And you thought only the Lib Dems could make up policy so much on the fly.

Essentially though, it doesn’t matter what UKIP’s policies are —they have an almost zero chance of getting into any sort of power, which is one thing for which we might have to thank the failure of the electoral reform referendum to bring in PR. That means that can say absolutely anything: from “repainting all trains in traditional colours” to “sending the buggers back” if it will keep them in the media’s eye. There’s been more coverage of Farage not standing in a by-election than then has been of the Green Party’s whole European election campaign—making simple ideas like not condemning us all to climate chaos seem more ‘out there’ than a flat 30% tax rate.


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Open data: by itself, the big society amounts to little more than “behave decently”

08/12/2010, 12:00:10 PM

by Jon Bounds

Cablegate, while sounding like a new property development in a run-down corner of Birmingham city centre, has provoked a little bit of excitement.

For me, though, it felt like a diplomatic version of Facebook. Suddenly, the minutiae and all the slightly wrong things that we all say in private are recorded and popped onto the internet for anyone who can be bothered to search. And, if you are realistic, and not prone to Daily Mail-ish bouts of outrage, the content was not that shocking.

What has been shocking is the reaction. Both in the press – which should really be able to square Wikileaks with the principles of investigative journalism – and within governments, which are all for transparency and open data these days, aren’t they?

Transparency and open data are the new online panaceas. They are wonderful. Except, of course, when they arise from anything that is not tightly controlled by government. Releasing spending data is “forward-looking”; releasing diplomatic cables (or even details of transactions alleged within FIFA) is “not in the national interest”. (more…)

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Jon Bounds is not impressed by Nick Clegg’s Your Freedom

05/07/2010, 09:36:37 AM

As a principle, asking people what they think is a good thing, but ask them in the wrong way and all you’re doing is storing up resentment. It looks like Nick Clegg’s Your Freedom is piling up the anger.

If you’ve ever been on TV or radio and the producer has developed an interest in your breakfasting habits as you’re sitting down, it’s because just asking people ‘to say something’ doesn’t work — they mumble, go quiet, and generally say nothing of even enough use to check that the sound levels are right.

So it is with consultation. Ask too tight, or loaded, a question and you do nothing but make people angry, but make the question too wide and you’re going to have a hell of a job finding anything useful. (more…)

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Clever politicians are using the social web to make humanity scaleable, says Jon Bounds

13/06/2010, 01:24:52 PM

Despite its sneering disregard for politicians, the biggest hit at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York earlier in the month was Cory Booker.  The two main threads of the conference were platforms and tools (some promising, some not) and a desire to discover whether the internet could “fix” politics. The general assumption was that trust in politicians is irretrievably lost and that political mechanisms are broken and need reforming in new ways.

Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey.  The mayor of a city in the shadow of a big neighbour, a city of around a million people with a high non-white population, a city often unfairly characterised in the media as dangerous or dull.  Philip Roth, who grew up there, has not been kind about contemporary Newark. (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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Jon Bounds on the half-appearance of the internet election

19/05/2010, 08:05:32 AM

Will the General Election in May 2010 go down as the first ‘internet election’? No. The unusual — if not entirely unexpected — result has seen to that, but it was an election in which people using the social web changed forever the way campaigning works in the UK.

Talk before was of which party could “do what Obama did”; that is, use the internet to harness support, and to fundraise. Well, no one really did — and politics in Britain was unlikely to suddenly start to work like that: we’re too conflicted, too cynical and have too many choices. We sometimes have to make decisions about how to place our cross where the local and national aims seem flatly contradictory — it was never going to be a simple case of joining one Facebook Group over another. The web can handle nuance, even if our electoral system can’t.

There was significant grassroots activity though, and perhaps the best way to see the difference between us and US is to look at the difference between (‘Organising for America’) and (‘Airbrushed for Change’). One is a social network ‘lite’, directed at organising and nudging (very much in line with the theories of Richard Thaler) support, the other a crowdsourced Private Eye, with all the mix of clever satire and fart jokes that that might entail. (more…)

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