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Tuesday, March 04, 2008 

Pranked over Cameron's likeness to Obama, while Cameron himself sings from the same old hymn sheet.

It seems then that both I and the rest of the readers of Iain Dale's CiF post yesterday were pranked. Posting on his blog, he writes that the article was first intended for the Torygraph, but that he was then asked to write about Andrew Lansley instead, so he sent his original over to the Grauniad as to not waste it, with the intention of winding up "the Obama supporting fanatics".

Strange then that even after having posted the above on his site, he felt the need to defend his piece in the comments of my own dissection of it. Presumably if it was meant as a wind-up, he wouldn't really have needed to respond to criticisms of it at all. I seem to have got off rather lightly though compared to those on CiF who were rather more stinging in their dismissals:

Good evening and thank you for all your kind words. I especially liked the reference to me being in the Bullingdon Club. Strangely that didn't exist during my time at the University of East Anglia or even Saffron Walden County High School.

Can we really not get over this class ridden language.

And as for Tim Ireland. It will be a cold day in hell. I'm surprised they even let you comment on this site. Mind you, you're in good company among your own kind. Even fewer braincells than the LibDem front bench. And that's saying something.

[prepares self for more torrents of abuse from the self appointed guardian of the blogosphere who must be obeyed or you suffer the consequences]

Which seems like an excellent way of engaging with those not inclined to instantly agree with everything you say.

Speaking as we are of daft posts on Comment is Free, the site is today blessed with a post from the man compared to Obama himself, a certain Mr David Cameron. His main thesis is that politics is broken, and that there are deeper forces at work that underlie how it has come to be smashed to pieces. Both of these forces involve in the internet, the first being blogs and self-publishing, the second being that despite common conception, the youth of today are becoming involved in politics, just not in the "old" ways, but rather through campaigns using social networking.

If this already seems rather dated and close to passe, it might be because Cameron himself made these exact same arguments on the exact same site back in late 2006. Then Cameron was also launching another venture, like he was today. That was the sort-it.co.uk site, which complete with a fake-tanned bloke in a garish suit was aimed at dealing with "yoof" issues and making them think about their "own social responsbilities". The joke was that the suited guy was "the inner tosser", someone who rather than thinking about saving instead urged you to splash the cash. This campaign was such a roaring success that the sort-it.co.uk is still going str.... oh, wait. Sort-it.co.uk now instead links to conservatives.com.

The exact same response to Cameron's arguments then is still mostly valid now. Of the hundreds of millions of blogs Cameron talks about, only a minuscule number are about politics, or updated daily, which ought to be the yardstick by which they should be measured. Of the 20,000 videos uploaded to YouTube every day, the vast majority are either television clips, music videos or the most inane shit that you've ever watched and will afterwards pray that you could get those wasted minutes of your life back. If someone really wanted to do a study, they could sort those videos into respective categories and go from there. My bet would be less than 5%, if that, would be related to politics.

I am however willing to give Cameron the slight benefit of the doubt on the social networking point now. Facebook was then still only open to college students, or if it had opened up to all and sundry it had only just done so. Facebook undoubtedly is a site where protests movements are increasingly being organised and coordinated from, although whether any of those that started off there have made any major impact as yet is certainly open to question. Again though, Facebook is mostly just a slightly more grown-up version of MySpace and Bebo, with those over 18 mostly using it, and the vast majority are the same self-absorbed individuals interested only in what their friends are doing every second of the waking day. The backlash against the site has also accelerated recently.

The Conservatives then, desperate to look hip and trendy under their somewhat youthful leader, are trying their very best as they were over a year ago to get down with the kids, this time by advertising on Facebook. That most of the web-savvy individuals on there will most likely be running Firefox with Adblock+ or some other combination of browser and blocker and therefore never see the ads seems to have passed them by entirely, but never mind. Of course, that most of those they're trying to target were growing up during the age when the Tories were at their lowest ebb, a collective laughing stock and viewed as the worst possible waste of a vote, not to mention achingly uncool, with nothing having happened since then to change that also seems to have flashed by them without it being acknowledged. The other Conservative wheeze, launching a ludicrous campaign for "friends" to donate to them in an attempt to become presidential candidates in the US, like Obama this time round and Howard Dean before him, who were funded through many small pledges via the web, is also laughable. That the Conservatives are hardly strapped for cash, being donated £2.9m alone by Lord Laidlaw, who just happens to be a tax exile who lives in Monaco, with the grand total donated last year clocking up at £26.4m shows that this is nothing more a PR stunt, with them having no intentions of weaning themselves off of their current sponsors, all while demanding that Labour's donations from the trade unions be capped. Their biggest howls would be reserved for constituency donations being capped, as that's how Lord Ashcroft pumps his cash into the party.

If Cameron really wanted to mend politics, he'd support the one thing that would re-engage the public and ensure that their vote was worth something: proportional representation. Instead, the Tories, unlike Labour back in 1997 who toyed with the idea of PR until they got a whopping majority that meant they didn't need the support of the Lib Dems, think that they can win big enough as to not need it. That is the true face of not just the Conservatives but of Labour too; only when they are not certain of power will they pretend that the public need a proper voice. At the current rate of developing cynicism and disengagement, a whole generation will have lost faith in Westminster before anyone actually acts.

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