Hamish McFall is a public relations and marketing consultant, and is a former Parliamentary candidate.
Andrew Gimson, Boswell for our new Johnson, has written about Number 10’s attitude towards the Lobby. How many of our supporters would understand that opening sentence? I am not being patronising, like Remoaners were, about people being too “thick” to understand the issues. I am, however, trying to draw attention to the fact that people in the Westminster bubble use terms and language that has no resonance with the vast majority of the Electorate.
I am lucky enough to live in a constituency where 33,346 people voted Conservative at the last General Election. I doubt that more than 3,000 of them were influenced by “Social Media”. Number 10 and others within the Party seem to think that getting the message only to those that engage with Social Media is both necessary and sufficient. If you conducted an internet poll then you would probably be able to confirm the interest of the self-selecting audience. This, of course, misses the point that most people are not engaged with Social Media.
You will most likely only be able to read this article if you are online. You are therefore part of the Silo mentality that rules how we get news. The Internet is a marvellous thing but that doesn’t mean that anything that happens on the internet is good. Just because a method of communication is available, for example, Facebook or Twitter, doesn’t mean that you have to use it. Journalists employed by the BBC should be spending their time on the day job. Why do people like Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg constantly tweet? They are both excellent journalists who have plenty of air-time. Why do they feel it necessary to bombard us with their Tweet views? Alastair Stewart might agree that it would be better if broadcast journalists restrained from tweeting.
The danger of the Internet, Twitter and Facebook, is that people within the Silo are just talking to themselves and other like-minded people. At the same time, they think that they are talking to the whole universe.
I would bet a large amount of money that the majority of Conservative voters, and indeed all voters, would have liked to see and hear the message from the Prime Minister on Brexit night. The church bells rang in my local church and people let off fireworks but neither the BBC nor ITN broadcast a word from the Prime Minister. Number 10 thought that they were being terribly clever by releasing the statement on-line. They don’t realise that 95 per cent of the population lives outside the Westminster bubble. We don’t engage in social media. Why should we? If we wanted to do so it would be difficult. We have slow Broadband connections. Downloading a video of the Prime Minister’s speech would be time-consuming and why should we have to do so when a national broadcaster could and should do it for us.
The essential point about all political communications is the message. It is not about the media. The current trend of thinking that Social Media is the most important thing ignores the fact that anyone over the age of 65 is unlikely to engage in the sort of minute by minute Love island social media that its exponents promote.
We have a great opportunity to make a real difference for all of the United Kingdom. Let’s not pretend that London-centric social media is the answer.