Tuesday 2 December 2014

How Not to Start a Trending Topic

We're practically in perpetual motion territory. It's swollen to the size of a Jovian red spot that preys on lesser Twitter squalls, and rips the energy from them to power its own storm engine. We're talking #CameronMustGo again, the unstoppable, irrepressible social media phenomenon of the last week and a bit. Sure thing it got a bit of a push yesterday after snarky attacks on it in the press which were sooo predictable that Mystic Meg here pointed out their foolishness a week ago. Embarrassing. But perhaps even more cringeworthy than professional journos pontificating from platforms most activists can but dream of has been the shambolic attempt by Tory activists to send a counter hash up the trends.

I've expended words on Tory stupidity as a fact of life twice before. It's not that individual Tories are spectacularly unintelligent, though clearly many are, but they tend to be trapped within a world view that fights shy of evidence that contradicts their politically loaded views. For example, in the lead up to the Autumn statement we've had sundry Tory politicians doing the media round saying their splurge on the NHS, roads and what have you can be afforded because the economy is strong and that they have the public finances under control. That's alright, if those claims were not outright lies. Cynical and stupid to the Tories is what pots and oatcakes are to Stoke-on-Trent.

Anyway, the "brains" behind the Tory counterhash is the official feed for the ruling Conservative group on Melton Mowbray Borough Council. What devastating counter blast could the collective wisdom of an 18-strong group come up with? This peach was the fruit of their labours:


Look at some responses from within the Tory echo chamber:

"Classic." "Brilliant." "Genius." I suppose some people have a low bar for this sort of thing.

Apart from stating the bleeding obvious, #VoteLabourGetMiliband is interesting for a few more reasons too. First off, it was jumped on very quickly by Labour folks. Like this:

Then, barely a day in we had the baseless self-congratulation:

But quickly, lack of purchase turned into bitterness:

What the good Tory burghers of Melton Mowbray have given the world is a masterclass in how not to try and get a hashtag going. If it's partisan, it cannot be something one's opponents could annex with ease. I mean seriously, vote Labour get Miliband? Is that the best they could do? The second point is motive or, rather, anger and grievance. Labour's recent Twitter successes work because they tap into a sense of anger against this government that exists far beyond the party's ranks. Ed may have his detractors, but Dave is hated by a significant proportion of the electorate. Yet none of this is reflected in the mainstream media, except on occasions when a big march or protest might get coverage. Axe-grinding is a powerful motivator, so collectively assorted Labour supporters and lefties have collectively hacked a ledge out of Twitter's edifice from which they can broadcast far and wide.

The Tories on the other hand don't need Twitter. They can more or less rely on three quarters of the press and most of the broadcast media to not seriously challenge their rubbish. Why bother pleading with Tory "celebs" to get your hashtag running when friendly coverage lands on the doormats of millions of Britons every morning?

There are a couple of other interesting observations. First off the big Tory Twitter beasts avoided it like the plague. Probably because few still wish to be associated with Louise Mensch, but also because of the hashtag's obvious idiocy. Pro tip: do not alienate those you seek to recruit to the cause. Also, the whole hitching causes to hashtags is merely an extension of the sort of campaigning most Labour and left people are involved in. Can you imagine figures like Tim Montgomerie, Simon Heffer, Bill Cash and the like ramming their timelines with #VoteToryGetTory or #LongTermEconomicPlan or #SecuringABetterFuture? Of course not, it's all a bit too, well, vulgar.

The second problem is that underneath the very showy clothes afforded by hedge fund money, the modern Conservative Party is a sack of bone and gristle that barely draws breath. Out and proud Tory-identifiers do not manifest on Twitter because they do not exist on the medium in large numbers, which is reflective of the party's membership being concentrated in the 70+ category. Also, the London commentariat are blind to the fact that being an out Tory is simply not as culturally acceptable as being Labour. Yes, even after 13 years of government. All told, it's a good job the Tories have money and powerful friends. If they had to rely on the human resources organised in their depleting associations they'd be sunk.


Kerry said...

I think the length of '#VoteLabourGetMiliband' is also a problem. #WeBackEd (9) and #CameronMustGo (14) are short enough that you can add a reasonable amount of commentary when you tweet them. #VoteLabourGetMiliband (22) is discouragingly character-long.

Chris said...

It is also, as you hinted in the article stating the obvious, where CameronMustGo is a proposition.

yet again the Tories treat people like they are stupid, which is keeping with their character and general ideology.

the way the BBC have treated Miliband is a disgrace.