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How to counter angry boomer campaigns

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, December 17th, 2019 - 154 comments
Categories: australian politics, boris johnson, democratic participation, Dirty Politics, Donald Trump, election 2020, elections, jacinda ardern, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics, uk politics, uncategorized - Tags:

There is lots to pick over in the UK election result.  Weka has this outstanding post on the subject that I agree with wholeheartedly.

There was this incredible breakdown of voting intentions showing how stark the generational divide was.

If you equate class to age, and there is certainly a skewering of wealth to the older part of the population, then claims of class being no longer a consideration are not correct.

And Labour strongholds that were strongly pro Brexit were the first to fall to the tories.

Corbyn’s leadership was clearly a factor.  Rightly or wrongly he could not withstand the continuous negative media onslaught.  And disunity within Labour’s ranks also played a major part.

And there seems now to be no consequence for lying. First Draft estimated that nearly 90% of Tory advertisements contained information that was not true, compared to no Labour advertisements.

Although this time Russian Bots cannot be blamed.  From Alex Hern at the Guardian:

”   [E]very time we found something odd, closer inspection would reveal that the best explanation was the wonderful diversity of human experience, or, more prosaically, older voters whose desire to engage in political activism outweighed their technical literacy.

Take that intellectual elites.

He also said this:

The internet wasn’t the place for smart campaigning. The Labour party put out slick video after slick video, outspent the Tories on Snapchat and Facebook, and handed Jeremy Corbyn’s Twitter account to someone who understands memes extremely well for the entirety of election day. The Conservatives simply sat down and spent six weeks being wilfully stupid, and it worked.

In fact, one of the few changes in strategy we saw in the online election was the Conservatives doubling down on simple and stupid. The opening of the campaign was marked by a “shitposting strategy”, with the Tory party sharing low-effort, banally funny campaign messages in the clear hope that they would get as much distribution from opponents as supporters.

But, as the election went on, that approach was dropped in favour of a brutally simple one: pick three lines, whether or not they’re true, and just repeat them, for ever, on every platform, without shame or variation. Invent some Labour policies, make up a price-tag for them, and tweet it out as the cost of Labour. Make up a taxation strategy to pay for it, and tweet that out as the party’s tax bombshell. Endlessly, humourlessly, robotically come back to “get Brexit done”. There are lessons here for other political parties, but they aren’t pretty.

The same sort of tactic was tried in the recent Australian election. This is not surprising really given that the same advisors were used. And have confirmed that it is a feature not a bug.

Why does the UK have Boris, America have Donald Trump as its POTUS and Australia have Scomo as its leader?  Same sorts of campaigns, keep them simple, rail against intellectuals and other enemies of the state, rely on anger and resentment to motivate your base. And get people to vote against their self interests because of manufactured resentment. This is not only a world wide problem. It is an underlying feeling that is alive and strong in New Zealand.

And in political terms the opposition leaders were all found wanting. Bill Shortland was ineffective and bland as was Hillary Clinton. While Jemery Corbyn was attacked mercilessly for being an anti semite.

The relentless negativity worked.  Turnout in the UK election was 1.5% down on the 2017 figure at 67.5%.

With our election less than 12 months away and with National already releasing angry boomer policies like fining cyclists who do not use our non existent cycle network we can expect the same here. Relentless negativity, attacks, the sort of thing that your elderly relative would approve. It is funny that as shown by the above graph but people become more conservative as they grow older. It is also fair to say that their intellectual capacity generally starts diminishing after they hit the age of 50.

What does a left wing party do? I think that Jacinda’s approach is best. Be kind and gentle, yet determined when required. Talk about the future. Keep it simple. Don’t play political games.

The next 12 months will be fascinating. And how the left responds to tactics which are now clearly established will decide the outcome.

154 comments on “How to counter angry boomer campaigns”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    Ban all political advertising on social media. And if the social media sites (i.e. Facebook) won't come to the party then allow the electoral commission to ban them completely for three months before an election. Sure, people can still find them via VPNs, but their target market of low skill older voters? Nah.

    • Aaron 1.1

      If you ban it people will just make up some lies and release them from a source that has no connection to a political party – so incredibly easy to do and in the midst of a campaign who has the resources to track down the source of posts online.

      Isn't that what happened in Brazil anyway?

  2. Sacha 2

    For each of us: do not amplify lies by quoting or responding to them directly.

    The left needs compelling stories and ideas to share instead. Who is creating and distributing those?

    • Billy 2.1

      This is retarded. It's also offensive. It's based on the idea that ordinary people don't have a head for facts and must be mollycoddled. They are arguing that discernment should be left to the PHDs. That (the) propaganda (of liberal gatekeepers) is preferable to dialogue and debate.

      Yet more reason for the bulk of us to resent elite urban liberals. It’s an argument which is essentially “f the horrible uncouth poor and their troubling expressions and violent emotions, let’s replace the talk that makes us uneasy with post-yoga banter”.

      But apparently even the Labour Party saw fit to be trained by the women who helped Hillary Clinton fail utterly, the source of this nonsense.

      • greywarshark 2.1.1

        That's silly Billy. ' It's based on the idea that ordinary people don't have a head for facts and must be mollycoddled'.

        We all have to be careful about what we say and write and hear as we are surrounded by facts and falsifications, and confabulations. Try to understand that, and get down from your high moral horse. L

        et us be humble and know that there are lots of things that we know, things that we did and have forgotten, things that we thought we knew but were wrong, and an infinity of things we don't know but which some shyster will present to us in a form that suits him or her. Check, know your sources, check again and don't make fanciful statements on blogs.

        • Billy

          Mr or Mrs Greywarshark, I thoroughly agree with you that we are surrounded by facts and falsifications, and confabulations. My issue is with arguments that suggest news should first flow though gatekeepers or curators, who are inevitably political. Unlike many on the left, apparently, I’m not so tribal as to approve of win-at-all-costs political framing exercises and I’m especially bothered about attempts to foister some sort of Ministry of Truth on the populous especially in the name of kindness and respect. In fact it is the ultimate in disrespect.

          “We all have to be careful about what we say and write and hear…”

          Yes, Grandma. Try that on a building site.

          If it’s coming from someone who works in some form of political or public office, it is deeply sinister.

          And we all know this crap ultimately comes from Washington and exactly who brought it here and when.

          • amirite

            Ever heard of Defamation law, Fair trading law including laws against branding of the competitor and false advertising, Copyright laws, Intimidation, Threatening to kill law & ultimately the Hate speech law? Turns out you can be sued for what you're posting and you may have to think twice before posting some defamatory or hateful statement. Freedom of speech is not an absolute and always carries responsibility for what you say.

            • Billy

              I'm not defending free speech. I am criticising some very well-funded political framing exercises for the bias they introduce into our media, civil society, and politics.

              The problem with silencing alternative points of view, which may well seem incorrect and even dangerous at the time, is that one is not always right.

              • Brigid

                Speaking of silencing alternative points of view (and in this case facts) this article by Tareq Haddad following his resignation from Newsweek is a mighty revealing read.

                "Until several days ago, I was a journalist at Newsweek. I decided to hand my resignation in because, in essence, I was given a simple choice. On one hand, I could continue to be employed by the company, stay in their chic London offices and earn a steady salary—only if I adhered to what could or could not be reported and suppressed vital facts. Alternatively, I could leave the company and tell the truth."


          • Stuart Munro.

            As a person who has evidently swallowed the Kremlin talking points on electoral interference, you are an object lesson on some people's inability to process fake news.

      • Sacha 2.1.2

        The advice is based on extremely sound research about political communication that echoes long-known 'common sense'. Wrestling with pigs gets you muddy. People do not vote on facts.

        The people who need to stop amplifying lies are the well-meaning connected ones. Most of the left are too busy working.

        This is not about ‘news’, it is deliberate and organised lying by the righties – and using social media more effectively than the left has been.

        • Billy

          "The advice is based on extremely sound research"

          > In philosophy, this is called argumentum ab auctoritate, or an argument from authority, whereby the evidence provided is required for the evidence's conclusion.

          "Wrestling with pigs gets you muddy."

          > People who disagree with you are pigs? Well I’m not out to win, I’m out for the truth.

          "People do not vote on facts."
          > non urban-liberal-elites are too dumb to cross the road
          "The people who need to stop amplifying lies are the well-meaning connected ones."

          > Naive people sink ships, be machiavellian; don’t discuss matters freely and consider the political ramifications of your speech for the party?

          "This is not about ‘news’, it is deliberate and organised lying by the righties – and using social media more effectively than the left has been."

          That's true. Problem is, the "left" are doing it too (although many funding the left have other plans for their “philanthropic venture capital”). There's no commitment to the truth by partisan political operators on either side of the spectrum. That's why people must be left to decide what is true and what is false by themselves. A bit risky, I know, but we're adults, we can handle it. It's not the government's job nor any other body’s job to handle it.

          However, I don’t mind government services treating me like Haydn Jones treats the provinces, which is an improvement, in the context of some sort of strange national journey towards enlightened kindness…

          • Billy

            By the way, I reviewed the research. The strongest reference for the recommended “evidence-led communication” techniques including those pictured above in the infographic that the author could put forward explicitly stated that the evidence for the research the techniques are based on is inconclusive (i.e., not sound)

            We are dealing, here, with a school of thought that says compelling narratives beat facts and that there isn’t much evidence for its theories but because it is outcome-focused that doesn’t matter.

            Honestly, has anyone actually read that book?

            Gotta run now, catch a plane to Moscow.

            • Sacha

              I recommend NZ author Jess Berentson's recent work, especially this: https://www.bwb.co.nz/books/matter-fact

              • Billy

                I was referring to it. I've read it. Its prime reference for the arguments contained with in it state explicitly that there isn’t very good evidence for the theory the book presents. You’d think you’d find better references for your theory if there were them, wouldn’t you?

                It could also suggest that the book is totally original, groundbreaking. Could.

                • McFlock

                  So if it doesn't work, why get worked up about people using it to "silence" others? It obviously can't silence anyone, because it doesn't work.

                  • Billy

                    It doesn’t really matter whether it in itself can silence someone if it becomes part of the justification for restrictions on citizen’s right to free expression, especially of their political opinions.

                    There are a number of parties seeking changes to how speech is dealt with, and not just for political reasons.

                    How do you foresee the centre where speech will be censored operating? All these arguments tacitly posit an authority.

                    What if I told you that the funder of the research we have been discussing has already started funding the centre?

                    • McFlock

                      Why do you think "report it" means a single monolithic "censorship" centre?

                      For legally-required censorship, we already have the censor's office.

                      For the Karens of the world who find flags too strong for them, we have corporate headquarters concerned about publicity.

                      For internet sites that don't wish to be associated with fucked up comments, we have moderators.

                      What if I told you that the funder of the research we have been discussing has already started funding the centre?

                      I'd want some pretty solid links to what you're talking about, for a start.

          • Psycho Milt

            In philosophy, this is called argumentum ab auctoritate, or an argument from authority…

            Arguing that research supports your claim is not argument from authority unless the research doesn't actually exist. Are you claiming that the research Sacha refers to doesn't exist?

            People who disagree with you are pigs?

            Is that very poor reading comprehension, or deliberate misrepresentation? If it's an attempt at humour, it's not funny.

  3. dv 3

    There was a constant brexit stream on facebook. They were relentlessly negative for labour and corbyn. And the were often 1000s of comments as well Most neg alive for labour/positive for Tories.

    We will need to be alert for the same tactics next year.

  4. What does a left wing party do? I think that Jacinda’s approach is best. Be kind and gentle, yet determined when required. Talk about the future. Keep it simple. Don’t play political games.

    This is certainly a very good basis to work from. She has set a good example, but she needs this to filter down through the ranks more.

    She also needs to increase her authority over her coalition. Voters may make this easier for her if they deal to NZ First, Winston Peters is a very old school politician who is her opposite in many ways.

    The best way to deal with the Bridges/National approach is to contrast with it, and appeal to voters who prefer decency to division.

    • Billy 4.1

      Excellent advice for a kindergarten teacher.

      I wish you would all realize how condescending this all is and how deeply that condescension is felt. The Japanese screen you are strategizing behind is not soundproof.

      If we aren’t dangerous rogue wolves we are a scared flock to be gently herded.

      No, we are men and women of equal worth and mind and ability as you. Speak to us accordingly, political operatives. I know it might be difficult to comprehend but the laws of statistics suggest a lot of us are ever smarter than you.

      • amirite 4.1.1

        Who do you usually vote for and why?

      • JanM 4.1.2

        But it's ok to be condescending to kindergarten teachers and children is it? As an early childhood teacher (now retired) I can't tell you how sick I am of people like you using us when you want to make a point about being a grown – up. In your dreams!

        • Billy

          No, it is not okay to be condescending to kindergarten teachers. Children? Sort of, they are annoying.

          I was being descriptive about how kindergarten teachers might be taught how to deal with children.

          I'm tickled that a retired kindergarden teacher is still capable of tantrums. I'm pleased something can still get the blood up.

          Jan, we are on the same side, but we keep missing each other as we spin around the Standard, mistaking each other for enemy agents, infiltrators, sabatours, agent provocateurs, "people like you". We are us, Jan. We're in this together. Argument will not drive us into conflict but towards eternal truth, which, admittedly, may amount to not much more than spinning around a flagpole.

      • Molly 4.1.3

        I agree with you Billy. I think there is a point being missed when the above advice is handed out. And that point is that we don't need curators, we need to keep the conversation going and in that conversation reinforce the need for checking for sources and evidence – regardless of what political party you support.

        The public relations arm of each political party can set their own rules if need be, but what will inform the public – better quality information, accessible to all and ongoing conversations.

        • McFlock

          But that's the condition now, and what happens? Information overload. People get flooded with bullshit. There is no conversation, it's just me and you in a room with 500 bots all screaming different theories, memes, outright lies, and other bullshit. We can't have a conversation in that room.

          • Molly

            That's right.

            I think the conversations needing to be had are going to be much harder than setting a set of guidelines for online memes and social media postings.

            Engagement needs to be on face to face, and community level in order to counteract the speed and simplicity of online anonymous and proliferate postings. And that will be excessively hard, and perhaps impossible to do.

            I have a friend who was a thumping right wing ACT voter, who over the last ten years I have had very interesting political conversations with because although we are both at polar opposites, we are both able to keep the personal out of political viewpoints. She was widowed, and left with a young family and has been studying Psychology for a couple of years. My last meeting with her a couple of weeks ago, showed a profound shift. She has gained an understanding of the different circumstances and support surrounding each individual and how that impacts on choice and options.

            On the other hand, another friend who was more progressive, unhappy in her relationship has in the last few years signed up to a property investment group, and a recent meeting with her has highlighted some of the influence that relationship has had on her perspective.

            Social media and online conversations often reinforce what is existing. FWIW – for ongoing change – I believe direct communication cannot be beaten.

            • McFlock

              But it's the social media that reaches the most people, sadly.

              • Molly

                That is the sad reality, yes.

                However, I think I'm agreeing with Billy regarding the rules proposed, because they work within the social media paradigm instead of offering an alternative narrative or method. (Of course, I could be completely misinterpreting his meaning). Social media often reflects back to the user existing attitudes, perspectives and views. That is why it appeals, because the world becomes a reflection of what you would like to see that has been prefiltered without your conscious input. Comments are liked, or retweeted because of the social media skill in their construction or delivery, not necessarily the aptness, accuracy or completeness of the posting.

                Face to face communication requires ongoing work, listening and relationship building.

                I think access to online publishing has reduced the historical know-how about how to do inclusive face-to-face engagement, and I also think the long-term solutions exist outside social media and online. Engagement at local and community level that builds relationships and encourages real conversations may provide an immunity to social media memes and lies.

                That doesn't mean I think addressing this issue is easy.

                • Billy

                  Instead of making offline more online (e.g., through smart cities) we should explore making online more offline.

                  For instance, flippant comments should degrade quickly. Everything else should degrade too, as in nature, including our online remains. We need to write code that recognizes forgetfulness and forgiveness and the operation of mercy encoded in the natural realm.

                  Merry Christmas.

                  • Billy

                    An egregious example of making the offline more online is Kāinga Ora's smart home project:


                    Labour voters – all of us – have been tricked into thinking that progress is taking the offline online but from a civil rights perspective progress may well be doing the opposite.

                    Man’s greatest designs take after nature not the other way around, not yet.

                    • Dennis Frank

                      Biomimicry (our greatest designs take after nature). angel

                      The online/offline comms differential hinges on our animal nature: we read others primarily via facial cues & body language. Language has a biological subtext below the right-brain subtext that is normally referred to (emotion mediating the two subtexts) so empathy & resonance normal to discourse isn't present online.

                      Dunno how we can make online more like offline, other than via culture shift. Takes a lot of commonality to shift culture by mutual intent. I recall when the Fugs were big on raising the Pentagon via chanting, but not enough folk chanted so it didn't levitate. Long-haired wierdos (like me), late '60s…

                  • Molly

                    Taking the online, offline.

                    The nature of social media is that you almost always have an audience, regardless of the nature of your interaction. So, the intent of understanding and being understood, might be influenced by the silent watchers who then join in to agree or disagree with what it said. It also may stop people from exposing their true selves and perspectives, knowing that it is being judged.

                    It is both harder and easier to have intimate, perspective changing conversations face to face, if relationships and dynamics that are respectful have already been recognised. People are less likely to let a connection go because of a disagreement in real life, than they are if the connection is only digital. Well, that's my view anyway.

                    "We need to write code that recognizes forgetfulness and forgiveness and the operation of mercy encoded in the natural realm."

                    Yes. Despite wanting people to change perspective, having access to past digital communications means that they can be contradicted by their past words, even if they have had a change of view. The Gotcha tendency seems to be strong on social media.

                    • Billy

                      Yes. Despite wanting people to change perspective, having access to past digital communications means that they can be contradicted by their past words, even if they have had a change of view.

                      Yes, I am many people have ever evolving points of view. This is most annoying.

                • McFlock

                  I think that the problems from social media need to be addressed within social media.

                  A doorknocking campaign just doesn't have the reach or frequency of memes and targetted ads.

                  Yes, doorknocking still needs to be done, but it doesn't have the legs of a catchy lie.

                  But social media used by tories isn't just about reinforcement. It's also about corroding motivation, the rust of electoral participation.

                  That's why so much tory effort is spent arguing that all politicians are equivalent: corrupt, venal, self-serving, and shallow. Their fall-back position is "they're all as bad as each other, don't encourage them". That's the other function of internet lies: they just take a little shit on any spark of enthusiasm for a candidate.

                  So if we want a candidate to keep that spark of enthusiasm from voters, we also need to debate online. But treating lies with respect, or trying to refute them, just does a Streisand effect.

                  So demonstrable lies and hate speech, the explicit stuff, can be reported and pulled from a platform by any platform that wants to be cross-political (e.g. FB, not a neonazi site).

                  The problem is the slur, the cherry-picker, the edge-lord. So I like the idea in sacha's link about not retweeting, but countering with a positive. A bit like how those dodgy finance companies all talked about how solid they were, just before they went under.

                  • Billy

                    That's where I really divert from a lot of Labour people, when it comes to the normative social engineering stuff. People who are very concerned about what we "should" do; materialists, I guess, who are much more confident about our ability to shape the world, the future, ad nauseam.

                    But I come from a particular perspective, or lived experience. Personally, as a high functioning austistic man, I am only happy when I am in my ScrumMaster, a machine I invented that replicates, with pretty accurate physics, what it is like to be in the middle of a scrum – that's my happy place. Comes with a mister, tapedeck of an All Blacks game, and a fist on a mechanical spring that occasionally hits me in the nose. I hang it with used jockstraps. My wife, ever the joker, said I had “put the fist at the wrong end.”

                    • Ad

                      Oh no; with that ScreumMaster session practise you'd fit in fine with Labour.

                      No need to be all coy and reluctant about your Labour support with that kind of self-discipline.

                  • Molly

                    " So I like the idea in sacha's link about not retweeting, but countering with a positive. A bit like how those dodgy finance companies all talked about how solid they were, just before they went under. "

                    I like it too, but I don't think it will be a long-term effective solution to ensuring accurate information is disseminated. It strikes me as a method of how to deal with items that come across your computer, rather than an effective method of counteracting misinformation. At some point, unless social media companies drastically change their model, social media may come to be regarded as a inconsistent source of information, due to the easily checked lies that are posted at present from sources that should be authorities.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, so far that hasn't happened with TV, so I don't see any reason to expect that attitude change regarding the internet.

                  • Molly

                    I'm not necessarily talking about door knocking. I'm talking about practising these types of conversations in your personal life.

                    If you are practised and confident then taking those skills to your local community.

                    (It's easy enough for me to say, since I am not a fan or a user of social media. Some items are interesting, but I usually find the sources of information much more informative.)

                    • McFlock

                      The internet is a numbers game, while daily personal contact is about quality.

                      Both are needed in this day and age.

                  • SHG

                    The problem is the slur, the cherry-picker, the edge-lord.

                    The problem is never encountering anyone who disagrees with you.

                    “Oh, that person expressed an opinion that makes me question my position, which makes me feel uncomfortable, which means I am a victim of violence, BLOCK AND REPORT USER”

                    A few rounds of that and you have created your own little echo chamber in which you only hear things that reinforce what you thought before you moved into it.

                    Then elections come around and much to your surprise the rest of the world does not agree with you and you have a mental breakdown because that’s unpossible.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh, bollocks.

                      I don't need to hear a nazi's point of view, nor do I need to hear 50 different made up versions of events when an issue needs to be seriously discussed.

                      If the problem was a genuinely-held belief based on thoroughly-considered facts, there wouldn't be a problem. Everyone could have a rational discussion. There would be disagreement, but at least everybody would agree that reality and truth matter.

                      Unfortunately, the problem isn't genuinely-held belief based on fact. At best, it's someone's genuinely-held belief resulting in them spreading a pithy meme or 90 minute youtube video that takes hours to go through and discover that it's complete bullshit.

                      At worst, it's fucking nazis.

                    • Lucy

                      I also don't need to listen to a Nazi to know that what he/she says is bad. I knew a woman who voted for Hitler who refused to vote again as she said "I believed the lies and didn't hear the bad, and because of my vote millions of people died". Listening to evil taints you because the glow of the words attracts that little part of every human that believes nasty stuff. As we have seen in multiple historical examples these people do not debate, they use fear, intimidation and eventually death to change countries to their world view. As they are being platformed in the online world people are seeking to deplatform them in real life and that's how it should be. A lie is still a lie if all the people in the world believe it.

    • SHG 4.2

      She also needs to increase her authority over her coalition. Voters may make this easier for her if they deal to NZ First, Winston Peters is a very old school politician who is her opposite in many ways.

      Agree. Remember conservative boomers like strong leaders. For all her positive attributes, a strong leader Jacinda is not. She governs at the pleasure of Winston Peters and no-one in her cabinet, caucus, or staff worries about job performance or causing embarrassment.

  5. mikesh 5

    I think it has been generally recognized that it is mostly the younger generation which favours remaining in the EU. The bar graph above seems to confirm that, and at the same time confirm that the election was about brexit, almost to the exclusion of anything else.

    • Sacha 5.1

      Brexit was a local symbolic choice of two quite different paths, much as climate action/inaction is throughout the world right now.

  6. pat 6

    Brilliant idea (not)….perpetuate the environment where the current tactics are proving successful for those we oppose.

    And one point you (and others ) appear to miss is although the percentage of the youth vote was Labour (in this election) their turnout rate was considerably lower than the 'boomers' who turn out…in terms of total votes you may want to calculate where more votes reside

  7. Heather Tanguay 7

    It has already started in NZ, Bridges and his coterie are playing from the Trump, Boris, Scomo playbook.

    The two page advert in yesterday's paper was an opening salvo. Complete bollocks.

    This week's events are only the beginning. Create unrest amoung Seniors as is happening with the superannuation. Create fear, create more fear, all tactics for the coming year.

    • greywarshark 7.1

      Seniors revel in sending each other little clips that support and renew their prejudices. They could be said to be big on common sense.
      Clip – quote said to be from Einstein:

      Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
      Albert Einstein

      You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.
      Milton Berle

    • Rae 7.2

      Yes they really have launched their election campaign. It's a long way out from the election, must be mighty expensive, but then, it's not that long since Bridges was in China, forelock tugging to the authorities.

  8. Alan 8

    FFS, labour lost because it had a failed, do nothing marxist as a leader and promised an incontinence of economy wrecking policies that voters did not believe.

    Attributing the loss to the ad strategy of the Conservatives is like attributing the sinking of the Titanic to the lay out of the deck chairs.

  9. Wayne 9

    Why equate age to class? And why assume that all rage and anger only resides with older voters and that younger voters are all enlightened? It is a false narrative.

    It is simply another way of saying the people who don't vote for me are stupid racists. And that all older voters (those over 50) are like that.

    A modern version of "don't trust anyone over 30".

    Major parties that fail to get votes from across the age spectrum, even if a bit skewed will find themselves in opposition.

    • arkie 9.1

      Why equate age to class?

      If you are working class you have a shorter life expectancy, therefore there are proportionally more wealthy people in the older age cohort than in any other.

    • Stuart Munro. 9.2

      why equate age to class?

      Because the irresponsible far-right economic lunacies imposed on New Zealand have disproportionately impoverished the young & unpropertied – and continue to do so.

    • Why equate age to class?

      It would be wrong to "equate" them, sure. But it's not wrong at all to take them into account. As an example, at age 18 I was a wage labourer with a net worth of whatever my second-hand stereo, records and pushbike could be sold for, ie working class. Now I'm a property owner on a high salary, ie middle class. The difference between working-class me and middle-class me is age.

      • Sacha 9.3.1

        Older people tend to have more to conserve, yes. Hence more conservative.

        • John Clover

          People tend to be idealistic when they are young and more realistic as they grow older. along with all the other reasons mentioned above.

          Personally at 88 years, a few days ago 🙂 I think Labour 'lost it' in the UK and might well do so here too.

          My solution is a combinations, Nat/Lab with the extremes of both strongly controlled. With a good proportion of green thinkers if not actual greens in the mix.

        • Robert Guyton


        • Molly

          I also think that the more you have, the more fearful you are that you might lose it all. Life experience also contributes to understanding that sometimes in life devastation hits and you can be left distraught and destitute.

          Most right-wing voters strike me as people who are fearful that they don't have enough. The irony is – they never will have enough.

      • JanM 9.3.2

        But did you lose your ethics the wealthier you got?

        • Psycho Milt

          When it comes to general elections, I consistently vote against my personal economic interest. But that surely can't be typical – across the population as a whole, I think the age/class correlation is real.

          • Wayne

            Merely going through a life cycle of income and assets increases does not of itself change a person's view of class.

            For instance by 60 or so there would be huge numbers of tradespeople who would own their own home and perhaps a rental property. Compared to a 20 year old. they will have literally hundreds of thousands more times wealth (not just dollars, but actual multiples). But does that mean they have stopped being a tradesperson.

            I certainly can see their voting habits might change. A party proposing a CGT may not have that much appeal to them when they have a working lifetime of accumulated assets. But that is precisely why Jacinda has canned the idea of a CGT. She knows there are lots of middle voters in this situation who can vote Labour. And plenty more who may not have got that level of assets but aspire to do so.

            So when Labour in the UK only gets 20% of the votes of those over 60, that is a serious problem for Labour. Getting 57% of younger voters is not enough to counter the deficit. Also remember younger voters get older and may change their vote. After all how does NZF keep getting votes, by people constantly aging.

            A successful party has to have a better age spread of voters than Labour in the UK. The Conservatives certainly did, that is they were not at 20% with younger voters.

            • Psycho Milt

              Merely going through a life cycle of income and assets increases does not of itself change a person's view of class.

              We're talking about class, not people's feelings about class. People do romanticise class into a kind of cultural thing, in which you can be "working class" despite owning a business, or middle class despite ending up working for wages with no property to your name, depending on your family circumstances when you grew up. That view of class, which basically comes down to how you speak and what art you like, is common but also wrong.

              In reality, class is about your relationship to the means of production, which means anyone is working class who works for wages and has no property, regardless of what their parents did for a living. Likewise, tradespeople with multiple properties and their own business are middle class, regardless of how they grew up.

              So, yes, changing from being a wage labourer to a business owner or manager over a period of decades does mean someone's changed class – their feelings about it are irrelevant.

    • mickysavage 9.4

      Why equate age to class?

      Because most young people are really poor. They have degraded working conditions, student loans, no job protection and horrendously overpriced houses if they can afford to buy one.

  10. Anker 10

    I think that is good advice not to respond to negative memes. Hard to do though. And sometimes successful as in the #turn Arden v #return Arden…….

    surely there is some clever person out there who can come up with an appropriate strategy.

    should we consider using their tactics? Serious question. Out do them at their own game.

    eg keep showing selective clips of the bridges Campbell anodarko interview. Show clips of Simon being a dick (easily available). And Jacinda being surperb (easily available)

    btw saw Stephen (11 Billion $ hole Joyce) quoted again. Surely people know he has 0 credibility

    • pat 10.1

      "btw saw Stephen (11 Billion $ hole Joyce) quoted again. Surely people know he has 0 credibility "

      and surely everyone knew Boris was a pathological liar…..and made him PM anyway.

    • Sacha 10.2

      Showing any clips of Bridges reinforces the idea that he is credible. Imagine watching all of them with the sound turned off. That's how busy people make decisions.

      Spread clips of Jacinda and others being leaderly and relatable, sure.

      • Billy 10.2.1

        That's bizarre, I love it; the product of the muddled advice to which you've been receptive.

        "Showing any clips of Bridges reinforces the idea that he is credible. "

        That's one backhanded compliment!

        Keep electioneering for Bridges like that and he’ll win, just like Trump did. You all need to stop listening to that American woman with the frightfully big hair. She’s obviously a witch.

        • Sacha

          Refusing to be on the same stage as an opponent is as old as the hills. What rock have you been hiding under? 🙂

          • Billy

            That's not what it is, though.

            It's saying censor a political opponent because people make decisions when shown the right picture without reference to reason or facts, that x will mean y for that person, like a dog use to being fed when a bell is rung. Behavioural determinism and quite basic at that. Interesting.

            • Sacha

              Censor? Nobody is obliged to recycle lies for anyone else. And if you do not even know how people make political decisions, best stay out of the kitchen.

              • Billy

                But are you not trying to get into their kitchens so you can stand in front of their televisions to prevent them from seeing the apparently irresistible Simon Bridges (you said it)?

                Or will you address the problem further upstream, at the television studios?

                Why not in the newsrooms and at the writers workshops?

                It may even be possible to address the problem before that. Technology is such now that it would be possible to write a program to alert the Centre whenever Simon Bridges name was typed, or mentioned. I suggest the addition of an electric shock.

                Combined with the narrative-driven programing for social good heaven is just around the corner.

        • Sacha

          And I have no idea what woman you are talking about. I encountered framing in politics mainly through this guy: https://georgelakoff.com/

          • Billy

            The woman with the big hair who came out from the US to train Labour and inspired the Workshop.

            • McFlock

              … a proper noun might be useful here?

              • Billy

                Anat Shenker-Osorio.

                Her hair is so big that, if a construction worker was to push her off a site, she'd bounce down the street.

                • Incognito

                  Quite a feat, sexism, body shaming, and calling for violence all in one, metaphorically speaking.

                  You may want to take it down a notch before you go too far.

                  Here’s a background post for those who are interested in the ‘witch’: https://thestandard.org.nz/anat-shenker-osorio-on-the-creation-of-left-metaphors/

                  • Billy

                    Good luck excising Punch & Judy from the collective unconscious. As long as it doesn't effect me I am happy to watch you attempting psychic surgery on yourselves.

                    Meep Meep! Abteilung X!

                    • McFlock

                      fragile, much?

                    • Billy

                      Fragile? For all you know I've stared down Satan.

                    • Sacha

                      Wrassled a rock!

                    • McFlock

                      Based on your comments today, I think you'll find it was actually Santa.

                      Still waiting for that link on the censorship centre, by the way.

                    • McFlock

                      Beyond its work monitoring and reporting hate speech, the group will also look at methods to better secure the online presence of various minority organizations, examine the seam between digital rights and the creation of a civil society and look to partner with leading technology companies to ensure the safety of online communities.

                      So, basically, it will tell social media companies when nazis are using their platforms.

                      Why are you worried?

                    • Billy

                      McFlock: you are not concerned that Omidyar is a major intelligence contractor / partner, much like Peter Thiel, with to-be-expected political biases, and that the ADL is a highly political organization that called NZ's UN vote on settlements racist, and would censor on that basis?

                      Do you agree that said vote was racist?

                    • McFlock

                      I'm a little bit more worried about online nazis getting guns, to be honest.

                    • Billy

                      Strange answer. Avoidant. Too tricky to confront?

                      On that, how do you think the community that was actually attacked on March 15 might feel about it? Do you think they would approve of the ADL choosing which positions on the Middle East are racist, and which are permissible?

                      They would be taking a far right position, one that many Israelis would consider far right.

                    • McFlock

                      No, the truth.

                      I don't agree with everything the ADL does, I sure don't agree with the settlements in Palestine, but fucking nazis shoot people all over the world. Including here.

                      So am I gonna get pissy about one organisation that reviews online content and flags it to the platform owners? No, because the platform owners can do whatever they want with that information. The one thing they won't be able to do is say that they weren't told.

                      Other people also do that work. I say "the more the merrier". Sure, some will be politically motivated, and some of those complaints might even work. But "anything goes" gets us torchlight rallies and people murdered.

                • Sacha

                  Dr Berentson-Shaw was working in this space long before Shenker-Osorio visited. But I'd say people can see by now where you are coming from.

    • John Clover 10.3

      But of course it wasn't 11 Billion but far more. Neither side had it right.

  11. Stunned Mullet 11


  12. Tiger Mountain 12

    Great piece Micky–“And get people to vote against their self interests because of manufactured resentment.” encapsulates the strategy perfectly.

    No one should be surprised, when National comes up with its version of “get X done”…they have trialled that simplistic approach with scores of memes already, from beneficiary bashing to petrol tax. Nats online fans from the provinces particularly lap it up like dogs returning to a regurgitated dinner.

    Has 2020 come down to “the battle of the memes”? maybe it has. The analogue world is fast fading. The twin referenda should ensure a good turnout though, and Chloe Swarbrick in particular has done a great job with the Cannabis options detail to deflate both National and NZ First’s harrumphing over things “stoner”.

  13. A 13

    Educate older people on how to use ad blockers.

  14. ianmac 14

    Will we have some sort of organisation to Fact Check?

    An immediate credible disputing of Opposition misleading/attack ads might help.

    (How about getting the Taxpayers Union to do the checking? Joking!)

    • ianmac 14.1

      Did the Conservatives have an extensive manifesto or just a few key phrases?

      Did the Key years have an extensive manifesto or just a few key phrases?

      They both succeeded.

      Will our Government have an extensive manifesto or just a few key phrases next year?

      Click to Edit

    • Sacha 14.2

      An immediate credible disputing of Opposition misleading/attack ads might help.

      Research says it does nothing of the sort.

  15. Enough is Enough 15

    "What does a left wing party do? I think that Jacinda’s approach is best."

    Do you seriously think Jacinda is leading a left wing party?

    • Such things are relative. In the NZ context, yes she is.

      • Enough is Enough 15.1.1

        This government is a slightly a softer version of the neo-liberal governments that have been in power since 1984.

        They haven't made any transformational reforms that would reverse the fundamental aspects of Rogernomics. We are still living under the same system that Roger invented.

        Being slightly more left of National does not make Labour leftwing. Increasing funding for diffenet things does not reverse Rogernomics.

        Jacinda and Labour will need to start deconstructiong Rogernomics before they earn a leftwing title.

        • Psycho Milt

          By your definition, Rob Muldoon ran a left-wing party. When a definition has so little explanatory value, it's not much use as a definition. Also: such things are relative. In the NZ context, yes she is leading a left-wing party.

  16. aom 16

    How would one go about using existing consumer law pertaining to false advertising? It seems wrong that someone in business can be held to account but political parties can't be, despite their 'advertising' having to be approved, therefore an implied personal liability. Admittedly, the time to take such a case through the justice system would see out a parliamentary term, but even then, a prosecution or threat thereof should have a sobering effect.

  17. Dennis Frank 17

    A catchy meme seems essential. UK Labour went for It's Time for Real Change. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.K._political_slogans]

    Lack of resulting traction could be explained by voters wondering what kind of real change they had in mind. Or thinking "Yeah, Brexit. So why aren't Labour supporting it?" It's like marketing has no place in the Labour psyche – as if the electoral contract between voter & politician ought not to be considered.

    Surely it is elementary that the voter buys what the politician is selling? And that voter loyalty arises from perception that the politician is delivering what they promised.

    So a political party ought to use a slogan that summarises intent to deliver what most voters want. Signifying a real change didn't work because it was devoid of content. You have to send a message that voters can comprehend, and it must be timely and elicit agreement. Get Brexit Done delivered in accordance with that prescription.

  18. adam 18

    This might help your understanding of how this works, and how they use data.

    Good interview – 12 minute long – clear explanation of how it works.


    • ianmac 18.2

      Wow adam. Thanks for the excellent link. And of course the "science" of the deception must be transferable from US, UK, Australia to unscrupulous NZers. (Was I thinking of Simon Bridges? Remember when the Jamie-Lee Ross was recorded and played and Simon wanted the funds to run the "ads?")

      For instance there are neurotics in NZ who can be manipulated with fear. And who can stop or expose them?

  19. James 19

    There is some irony in your post.

    take your comment:

    With our election less than 12 months away and with National already releasing angry boomer policies like fining cyclists who do not use our non existent cycle network we can expect the same here.

    national have done no such thing the policy clearly is about fining people that are not using the cycle way – if there is no cycle way there is no fine

      • Psycho Milt 19.1.1

        That's the one – angry boomers who call cyclists "road lice" are part of National's core constituency. There's no purpose to Bridges' announcement beyond appealing to that market share.

        • I feel love

          Might be a tad of a misfire as the most annoying cyclists are the lycra wearing boomers.

        • RedLogix

          The more usual term is 'lycra-clad road rat' …devil

          Still if the left want to pivot from demonising the working classes as 'homophobic, racist, sexist bigots' … to patronising everyone over the age of 60 (and in most western countries a group who will remain a substantial voting demographic for at least another decade … be my guest.

          Let's see how well this works.

        • Sacha

          Tis just vice signalling.

          • mac1

            So, the Right tell us how bad we are, and must be punished, known as 'vice-signalling'; and the Right accuses the Left of telling them how good we are, or 'virtue-signalling'?

            I believe that wearing lycra shorts on bikes is virtue signalling, the word 'virtue' being based on the Latin 'virtus', or 'manly strength'.

    • Brigid 19.2

      James, would you cycle on a roadway in preference to the adjacent cycle way? If not why is such a law is required?

      • James 19.2.1

        I wouldn’t shoot anyone – so why were the new gun laws required?

        the same logic applies. Just because I don’t break a law – others do.

    • Tricledrown 19.3

      Dog Whistle to impatient rednecks

  20. Ad 20

    Tempting to do a post on:

    "Managing Expectations With The Left In Permanent Decline".

    • Dennis Frank 20.1

      If you do, would be good to include some positive framing along with the realism. For instance, an analogy to a rower – if his left arm is in permanent decline he inevitably ends up going round in circles. Does the body politic really want to impose a permanent handicap like that? Don't think so.

      Similarly, voters marching into the future must put their left foot forward at times as well as their right. If they want to progress.

      All that really needs to be done is to get the left into a making progress frame of mind, and then get them actually doing it. They've done it before, shouldn't be hard. Okay, that was long ago & they've been merely talking about progress ever since & cracking the whip over someone is a tad non-pc…

      • arkie 20.1.1

        To adapt your analogy; Perhaps the body politic wouldn't be so handicapped if it hadn't been constraining and denigrating it's left arm since the mid-20th century.

      • Billy 20.1.2

        I like this guy. Reminds me of the Greens before they got sucked into this American crap.

    • adam 20.2

      Ad you really sound like an right wing tool at times, and this is one of those times.

      • Ad 20.2.1

        Numbers of left-leaning governments have been in accelerating decline for 18 years now.

        It's just a cold fact.

        It isn't useful to pretend it hasn't happened.

        So it's perfectly reasonable to just reject the language of permanent expensive revolution when it increasingly looks like a single fire fighter with a water tanker keeping a small circle of green grass while a forest fire has long raged through all else.

        • adam

          Like I said in the past, your negativity about the left is quite toxic. Try reading some Bertrand Russell, and embrace Social Democracy at least.

          No ones asking you to join the radical left – but at least have a spine.

          • Ad

            My "spine" on social democracy is formed through four degrees, five de-carbonising transport projects between $400m-$4.5b each, and 6 successful campaigns on the left of Labour.

            I did Russell in my first year at Uni.

            Quite comfortable critiqueing where it needs it – and it needs it more and more.

            For your holiday reading have a go at Acemoglu's Why Nations Fail.

            • adam

              I'd say you're describing somthing within the bounds of liberalism, not social democracy – if it's the last 6 campaigns for the labour party.

              And as I've said before we should not mix up what is liberalism and social democracy – they are two very different ideologies.

              You read Russell at uni, sheesh all his books, I'm impressed – usually people just read his history of philosophy to pass pols papers. I did that too – but started to find his books in op shops and decided he well worth a read in the 21st century. Especially his collections of essays.

              Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll look up in the library. Just read a quick synopsis looks interesting.

              Just been reading some Paleoconservatism authors, as it was pointed out to me recently that this was one of the major jumping off points for the alt-right. Have to be immune to conspiracy theories to read them though. William S. Lind is a good example of bat shit crazy conspiracy theory believer. He the main guy who pushed the cultural marxism conspiracy theory.

  21. Matiri 21

    Good analysis from the Sydney Morning Herald about why right-wing populists keep winning.


  22. Avocadonz 22

    But, as the election went on, that approach was dropped in favour of a brutally simple one: pick three lines, whether or not they’re true, and just repeat them, for ever, on every platform, without shame or variation.

    Nine long years of neglect

    Seems these “dirty tricks” are at play with NZ Labour.

  23. R.P Mcmurphy 23

    fight fire with fire.

    bring it on.

    and its the economy stupid.

    plus JA has charisma and simoan is a pudding.

  24. peterlepaysan 24


    British (and northern hemisphere politics) have not much relevance in our latitudes. The he above comments amount to not much.

    • Michael 24.1

      Which is why Topham and Guerin (and that bearded Aussie bastard) will spend all next year twiddling their thumbs at National Party HQ and won't use any of their experience helping Boris to defeat UK Labour.

  25. Tricledrown 25

    Corbyn sat on the fence offered another referendumb.which was circumvented by Boris offering a simpler solution. Racism and xenophobia played into Boris's hands. White English people don't want cheap labour undermining their jobs or traditions. Left wing policies going back to failed Nationalizations of the past were also another nail in corbyns coffin. His lack of Charisma amplified this disastrous lack of Unity.

  26. Smilin 26

    The easiest way to cut thru the bs of election engineering by political parties is to read their manifestos and hold them to account on their own sites or post it on partys site that will post it

    Yes its work but fighting the msm is

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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