Ed Miliband notoriously fumbled a bacon bap sandwich on camera. The Conservatives (Tories) rushed to create a meme to supposedly show how unconnected to ‘the people’ he was. Then they tried to create Ed as Downton Abbey scion because he has several bathrooms in his house. Now they’re running posters showing Ed in the pocket of Alex Salmond and the Scottish National Party (SNP). The Tories lurch, pushing button after button to show how dangerous it would be not to stay their course.
The problem is none of it seem to be working.
Now a group of high school students managed to do what the highly paid Tory media strategist and campaign leader, Australian Lynton Crosby, has not done. They’ve generated enthusiasm amongst younger voters. The ham-fisted Tory hashtag response #Cameronettes sunk like a lead balloon to Abby’s #Milifans.
Abby is a 17 year old high school student who cannot vote. But her #Milifans has created a firestorm across the British political press as dozens of viral photos show Ed Miliband as a number of super/iconic television heroes. From Hulk Hogan to Mad Men’s Don Draper, Superman to Batman, the question is, will #Milifans bring out the youth vote in this country, 90% of whom (aged 18-24) stayed home in the 2010 election?
Can social media trump the despicably partisan UK print machine? Indeed the behaviour of the British Press this election cycle has been more like rabid dogs than news ‘reporters.’ Several of the Conservative backing ‘hounds’ showed up on Abby’s doorstep the other morning waking her Gran, who was displeased. So desperate is Rupert Murdoch to attack Abby and find a winning meme, he’s instructed his Sun and Times editors to do whatever it takes because ‘the very future of their business is at stake in this election.’
Whoa Rupe, tap the brakes a bit there.
The real question? Why are you paying Lynton Crosby £250K a year since 2012 to mount this shambolic a campaign? From Cameron’s gaffe-filled self-preservation appearances to further insults that just bounce off Miliband, the Tories worst nightmare is evident… The public looked at Ed during the debates and thought, “yeah, he’s OK. He’ll do.”
Crosby kept Cameron out of the debates. Ed went everywhere. He became a man of the people. Crosby famously said by the end of 2014, the economy will be rolling and this will mean an easy majority for the Tories. They were so out of touch they forgot the public was not seeing the same benefits their rich pals were.
So income inequality, tax avoidance, selling off the NHS piece-by-piece, zero hour contracts, an unlivable minimum wage and now #Milifans created a perfect storm for Steady Eddie. Posh Davie was sitting in Number 10 conducting a Rose Garden strategy while the public started to like awkward but steady Eddie.
And as for the knife’s-edge polls? You would need to conduct 650 of them, one in each constituency for them to mean anything. This election is crazy. Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (Ukip) could get 11-12% of the total vote cast and end up with 3 seats or .046%. And Nigel, the party leader could lose the seat he is challenging for in Thanet. The SNP and total Scottish vote represents 4% of the electorate. Yet if they win the 56 seats across Scotland (unlikely but what they seek), they will end up with 8% of the seats in Parliament?
The ‘first past the post’ election system is as horribly broken in the UK as the US gerrymandered Congressional District elections. Whilst the leaders battle on the telly and in the tabloids, the real war is in the trenches of 650 districts across the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Turnout will be key. An energized youth vote is bad news for the Tories. A low turnout is a disaster for #Milifans. And elections should raise passions like the Scottish referendum of almost seven and half months ago where 96% of eligible voters registered and 89%(!) cast a vote. If social media pushes UK turnout north of 65% it could be a good night for Labour. If, turnout falls below 60%, the Tories will celebrate.
In either case, this will be an object lesson for the USA in 2016. Get out the vote and vote FOR someone rather than AGAINST, and it could be a surprising evening Thursday and again on 04 November 2016.