Written By: - Date published: 8:12 am, October 21st, 2017 - 67 comments
Categories: blogs, David Farrar, democracy under attack, democratic participation, Dirty Politics, dpf, internet, jacinda ardern, labour, Media, national, Propaganda, same old national, spin, The Standard, twitter - Tags:
The last Labour government we had here, if anyone can remember back eighteen years, started in December 1999. Not exactly pre-internet, but certainly before Twitter, Facebook, Baidu, Snapchat, and blogsites had any major impact on politics.
Even three years later it was still possible for an actual printed book to have some impact on the campaign. Nicky Hagar’s Seeds of Distrust came out to tilt at the snap election called at the same time. But does anyone remember the last time a Letter to the Editor made any impact?
The Clark government began back in the day when the sea of the media was a great rolling tide with large and predictable waves that hit the seawall of the collective public mind in nice big predictable echoes. These days those rolling great stories still come in, but the wave size and interval is unpredictably deadly. Digital social media is the global warming of human response: all is accelerated, all storms are greater in intensity and force, collective minds are more febrile, actions and reactions are algorhythmically destabilised beyond what we have ever seen.
Jacinda Ardern owes her career and her rise to leader of New Zealand to that change in the fluid dynamics of political discourse. Young people are driving the energy of that sea. Commentators – paid or unpaid – are precisely the wind itself. As well as a massively resourced Opposition, and untold coalition faultlines to come, this government is being launched into this hostile, roiling black thing.
In this era, that media is now you and me.
If this fresh government is to have any chance at survival, we have to move our influence beyond The Standard. It is inarguable that this is the most influential left-leaning blogsite in New Zealand. But like the voting patters itself between Labour and the Greens, its debates take points almost entirely off each other. We write on a primary alternative means for the new government to change minds.
The Standard is of no use to Jacinda Ardern and her government if that influence is not pushed out to greater effect than it is now.
There are plenty of competent writers here. There are even a few interesting ones.
There are a fair few who are good at rolling out snappy bon mots.
But they are lost here.
We all need our own Twitter accounts.
We need to reach out actively to our clearly influential friends at GreaterAuckland.
We all need our own handles on Kiwiblog, Whaleoil, and beyond.
Perhaps if we do so we could support each other before we venture forth.
Done well, Kiwiblog and Whaleoil will bring down the next government. Even with New Zealand First in proper coalition, the numbers in Parliament are still fairly tight. Exceltium, Senate, Saunders Unsworth and all the other Dark Arts practitioners will continue their dedicated work to turn stories into nightmares for the most inexperienced Cabinet we have seen in my lifetime. They will do so legally, and they are paid for results. They will concentrate their detailed profiles on the weakest Members of Parliament, the stupid Ministers seeking to regulate where industry did not want regulation, and they will bring them down until this government falls.
Our measure of doing well is when our writing is so good that it is picked up and becomes its own wave series. This currently happens all too rarely.
To my mind there is little doubt that the petition against Mike Hosking moderating the leaders’ debate was effective.
But the real campaign begins now. In case we forget, the Clark government was spectacularly damaged in 2008 through dumb small ideas that got blown up and we didn’t sufficiently respond.
I am not proposing a hive mind in which we all receive the weeks’ hit-lines every Monday evening after Cabinet like Shepilov under Stalin, then echo them like heroic Tweeting Canaries into the coalmine of our black national soul. I know only how intensely vulnerable this new government is to digital media attack, right now, while they are disorganised and inchoate.
There are some like Stephanie Rodgers who are penetrating into the mainstream commentariat, and have consistently strong followings on line.
There must be more.
Comment by comment, they must be us.
Because this government under Jacinda Ardern will probably fall if we don’t.