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December 10, 2019


Dave Timoney

I'd add that a further problem, intrinsic to the marketplace of ideas metaphor, is the emphasis placed on branding. Much of the media's approach to electoral politics centres on the dynamics of brand loyalty and customer alienation, which serves to crowd out comparative analysis of the offerings.


I fear the problem is even worse, that there is no possible way the UK can be made more equal, at least not for very long. The reason is that no feasible profile of job opportunities can be set up such that all can earn a reasonably satisfactory wage through work.

The alternative is some form of taxation/living wage setup which may benefit the have-nots but will send the haves into electoral meltdown. The Tories will never do this, Labour might - for one electoral cycle. And the profile of feasibly sustainable jobs is getting narrower as jobs leak away and house prices stay too high. Labour and Tory will squabble uselessly over this for years.

To avoid the real issues all parties have to promote some sort of fiction and paint a scene of sunny uplands where unicorns graze set in some not far off future. A future that will not materialise. Many will vote for unicorns on Thursday but they won't get any.


@DT: The branding has become personalised in big letters - TRUMP! And BORIS! has his own media handler in Kuenssberg.

Still, I take comfort in an old tune from one of the big brand managers:
"To stop those monsters, one-two-three,
Here's a fresh new way that's trouble-free,
It's got Paul Anka's guarantee ... [winks]
(Guarantee void in Tennessee.)
Just don't look! Just don't look!
Just don't look!"


"Barefaced lies do not lead to their teller being disgraced."

You mean in the way every Labour GE campaign for the last 40 years has accused the Tories of being secretly ready to privatise the NHS? And claiming that if the Tories win the election the NHS is doomed? All that '48 hours to save the NHS' shtick? And yet despite there being a Tory government for 27 of the last 40 years the NHS is still here (sadly, I wish someone would privatise it, it might be less sh*t then), but we still get the same old stuff from Labour this time - Boris is going to sell the NHS to the Americans!

Or is that different because reasons?


Lots of radical, evidence-based ideas endorsed by experts are in the Labour manifesto. Apparently they aren’t common sense according to journos and are therefore rubbished.

The problem isn’t the ideas.


The £350 million claim resulted in a court case, which Johnson won. From the judges’ ruling:

“The alleged offence set out in the Application for Summons is that the Claimant “repeatedly made and endorsed false and misleading statements concerning the cost of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union”. It appears that if the Claimant had said/endorsed a figure of £350m per week gross, or £250m per week net, there would have been no complaint.”

I’ve looked through various speeches and interviews from Johnson during the Referendum. They all make clear that the EU usually decides - at the EU’s sole discretion - to spend a proportion of that £350m back in the UK.

If I give you £350, and you decide to spend £100 of it buying me a Christmas present I may or may not like, is that really the same as me only giving you £250? At the very least it's arguable, surely.



That’s a gloomy prognosis. It suggests that maybe politicians lie to voters because voters want to be lied to. Time for a song:



This is an excellent piece; has crystalised my disordered thoughts into uncomplicated statements.


I would add another point, that is comcept hat Akerlof introduced, i.e. the market for lemons. Put it another way, bad faith drive out good faith, as, given that people cannot really differentiate between two, they end up assuming that everyone is of bad faith. So you might as well lie.

Phil Jones

Except, given that ideas are not scarce, and that bandwidth is now effectively infinite, might not a "market-place" metaphor simply be flawed to begin with?

Instead of asking why the market-place is "failing", perhaps it would be better to point out that there is no real mechanism to filter out bad ideas. So why would you expect to see mainly good ones?

nicholas ford

I am not buying any of this.
In an election, the voters do not choose just on the basis of specific ideas. The parties put forward a bundle of policy ideas. The voters make their choice based partly on their assessment of these ideas, but also on their assessment of a) the ethos, values and principles of the parties, and b) their assessment of the qualities and weaknesses of the key figures in each party.
Labour lost not because they voters were incapable of assessing its ideas, but mostly because of these second two sets of issues.


What changed between 2017 and 2019 - Brexit


"Now we know the consequences of demeaning the largest democratic vote in a nation’s history."


I remember John Humphreys one morning asking the deputy-chief political correspondent to summarise the Breixt situation "in a way even children could understand."

I was left thinking, "What for?"

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