My election notes. E-Day – 36

by Pseud O'Nym

The news today that ITV have issued a press release announcing their plans for a televised debate between the party leaders, whilst not addressing contingency plans in the event of multiple no shows to such a debate, is not a huge surprise for a number of reasons.

Firstly, few things happen in any sphere of modern life without a press release or similar to announce it. One gets this a lot in political speeches. Where the text of the speech is given to the press beforehand so it can make the news bulletins and someone can say to camera how someone is expected to say this. And then someone back in the studio can discuss with someone else how something that hasn’t actually happened might affect things.

The benefit in doing this is that if the something is badly received in the media, then it can be claimed to but an exploratory idea or similar and ditched. It’s called doing a ‘reverse ferret’.

Secondly, received political wisdom has it that any meetings with the public are not something that can be carefully controlled by party media managers. Examples of this going wrong and becoming the story are both legion and salutary, as happened today when Tim Notasin was cornered on a walkabout by a pensioner angry at the Lib Dem’s stance on Europe. Although the most shocking example of this was ‘bigotgate’, when the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown was recorded calling someone a ‘bigot’.

Thirdly, this represents a communication echo chamber, made up of the media and the politicians; inasmuch as the media report something and the politicians respond or vice-versa. Crucially, the mainstream media know the rules and will abide by them to ensure continued access.


And whilst I’ve got your undivided attention….

Two more things. It was widely reported today that Teresa May had returned from an audience with the queen to dissolve parliament. Am I alone in thinking that it must’ve been the worst ‘An Audience With….” in ITV’s history? Normally the format of an ‘An Audience With…’ is that of a well loved celebrity who shares anecdotes and generally entertains a celebrity audience. The queen may be many things, but I doubt entertaining is one of them.

And is Teresa May turning in Teresa MayCarthy, seeing dark forces seeking to undermine democracy by exerting undue influence?