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'Clearly they cannot be hurt' - The Ex-Communicator

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September 11th, 2010

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08:14 am - 'Clearly they cannot be hurt'
I read the 'comment is free' sections in the Guardian, and sometimes I wonder why I do, because some of them drive me mad. webofevil has a good post about the 'persistent vuvuzelas' - I think interns from Tory Central Office - who jump in very quickly as soon as any article is opened for comments. The most common thing for them to say is 'Yawn', 'This is boring', 'Old news'. This non-comment then gets 50-100 'Recommends'.

I don't know who they think they are fooling. What, we will stop reading Guardian articles because they are pronounced boring by an unpaid teenager?

Anyway, leaving the 'yawn' comments aside, the remaining astroturf is interesting, if depressing, as an insight into what the Tory government is planning. The attack on the BBC was flagged early ('BBC has had a good run, those days are over' etc.) I think because the teenage interns get briefed on what is in the pipeline.

I've just been glancing at the comments on the article 'Coalition cuts will hit poor 10 times harder than rich'.
Comment 1: 'Blah blah blah... Yawn....' (This incisive remark was recommended by 47 people)

Comment 2: If a person currently gets no help from the State and they look after themselves then clearly they cannot be hurt (directly at least) by cuts. However, if you are currently receiving much government support (funded by unsustainable debt) then you can expect to be impacted by cuts. I really dont understand why this is not obvious and clear to people! (Recommended by 91 people)

I think there is genuinely a problem for the Tory government of confusion between the narrative they are putting in place for the cuts, and the reality that they will have to manage.

For example this narrative 'If you aren't currently getting direct financial support from the state then you won't be hurt by the cuts'. The government must know this is not true - firstly because about a million people who 'currently get no help' will move into unemployment. And secondly, because British society is a complex organic web, from the roads, the schools, the fire service, the hospitals. There are very few people who do not participate in this mutual web of interdependent services.

I know the guy slapped the phrase 'hurt directly' in there to cover the second point. But that doesn't make the problem go away does it? If a person is hurt, it doesn't really matter whether it's directly or indirectly. People think this society is divided into the deserving and the undeserving: each person thinks 'I am deserving' and that only 'the undeserving' will be hurt by what is to come. It is going to take less than a year for this narrative to come apart.

And that's it; there is no plan B. Because they have gone no farther - and I see this all the time in Education but I can't talk about it - gone no farther than constructing the trick narrative. There is no plan to manage the real process.


ETA my son just told me he once extracted and cross-referenced the names of 'most favourited' commenters on the Daily Mail site against the BNP membership list and found a great deal of overlap. However, I don't think the BNP trouble The Guardian too much.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2010 08:00 am (UTC)
There was a very entertaining bit on the BBC 24 when Nick Robinson went around asking people if welfare should be cut. He then asked an old middle class woman if she was ok with benefits being cut and she acted all smug about it. "So you're ok with the benefits you receive being cut?" "I don't receive any benefits." "Well, you have a free bus pass, right?""...that's not a benefit!" "And free tv license?"Yes, but... but..." "And winter fuel allowance?" "But I paid all my life for those!"


Yes, the narrative will come apart.
[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
I remember the election in 1987, when the Poll Tax was announced, and I thought 'Why aren't people more upset about this mad idea?' It think it takes time for people to get past the loud narrative. But it will come.
[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2010 10:29 am (UTC)
If a person currently gets no help from the State and they look after themselves then clearly they cannot be hurt (directly at least) by cuts.

The other thing about statements like this that I find infuriating is the false opposition they imply between receiving help from the State and "looking after oneself" - as if these were the only alternatives. This ignores the fact that many comfortably-off and indeed rich people are being looked after, not by themselves, but by their dead relatives, from whom their own wealth was inherited. It's rather puke-making when millionaires who inherited their millions (such, as, say, the current Prime Minister and his Chancellor) preach about the virtues of self-reliance.
[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2010 11:13 am (UTC)
My socialism is driven by inherited guilt.
[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
Yes. I hadn't thought of that. Of course the unpaid interns who post these comments by definition do not 'look after themselves' as they earn nothing; they must be living off relatives' money, so it's doubly ironic.

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