It must be great to be the person in charge of the Tory smear campaign, because you have to do so little work of your own. Just nudge out a little bit of disinformation and wait for the circular firing squad (motto: ‘the good is always the enemy of the perfect’) of the left to pick it up and deploy it far beyond any reach you might have managed yourself. Having tested out the appratus on Tim Farron, which has now — despite the voices of many LGBT people — got elements of the left denouncing him as though he spends his weekends out with Westboro Baptist Church, we’re probably getting close to the time when the opposition research they’ve been doing on Jeremy Corbyn for the past two years finally gets deployed. It’s not as if we didn’t know from the US that a well-coordinated smear campaign can turn everything about a candidate upside down, but the sheer amount of material they can dump on Corbyn.
In short, if you’ve been cheering on the attacks on Farron, then be prepared to experience the same thing happening to your leader. It’ll make what happened to Miliband last time and Clegg in 2010 look like nothing.
In other Lib Dem related news, Tim Farron has ruled out the possibility of joining a coalition with either Labour or the Tories, which you would think is what all those people who were saying the party would go into another coalition with the Tories would want to hear, but it turns out that just because he’s said something, that doesn’t mean anyone has to actually accept it. I’m starting to think there are some people out there who have decided that they’re not going to listen to anything he or the Liberal Democrats and will denigrate the party regardless. Like Clegg before him, he could come out tomorrow and announce a cure for cancer, and the legions of keyboard warriors would soon be at the barricades to tell us how it shows he hates people dying of heart disease.
Right, that’s enough Lib Dem ranting for now, let’s talk about polling instead. One thing that characterised the 2015 general election was the inordinate amount of time people took to discuss every new opinion poll as it came out. Every night on Twitter was a countdown to the day’s new polling coming out, which would be dissected in detail, plugged into one of the election calculators, while each of the seeming dozens on polling aggregators and prediction sites updated their figures, and we all discussed which of the models might be the most accurate. Then the result came in and it turned out that all the polls had been out throughout the campaign and all those hours we’d spent discussing them during the campaign had been a complete waste of time.
So, what with that and the referendum, you’d think we’d have learnt our lesson and to an extent we have as there aren’t (yet, at least) the plethora of sites devoted to election number-crunching but it’s still been interesting to watch political Twitter grind to a near halt as the latest polling results come out and everyone pounces on them to dissect them. Sure, there might be some interesting things in them (Scotland could be without a Labour MP for the first time since 1906, for instance) but turning the entire discussion about the election into a discussion about what the polls say about the election didn’t work out too well for us two years ago, so why are we content to watch it happen again?
OK, that’s all for today, time to catch up with the new series of Versailles so I can use it as an ill-advised metaphor for analysing the French Presidential results tonight. Does Louis XIV represent Macron, the young man challenging the way power is used in France; Fillon, the traditional Catholic values of the nation; Le Pen, the appeal to a France that controlled its borders; or Melenchon, because the Sun King wanted a France that was unsubmissive to the rest of Europe? Or is it merely a nicely-made TV programme, the background to which reveals interesting things about Franco-British media relations? All hot takes can be catered for, once we get an idea of the results come in.
Originally published at www.nickbarlow.com on April 23, 2017.