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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

April 11, 2005

Nice and Depressing

Less than a week into the official campaign, and I already reach for the off switch after about 30 secs of meaningless drivel on the radio or TV. Here's a nice depressing article from the Guardian in which Michael White considers how campaigning has changed in 35 years:
"And that was the future. We were now so closely in touch all the time in real time that you could ask for comment on an event that had not yet happened."

Which seems like an appropriate quote for the Hallmark Universe.

I remember the 1974 campaign(s) quite well - Jeremy Thorpe and all that. When a Liberal was a Liberal and the SDP was gleam in a bitter Michael Owen's eye. I have a dim recollection of 1970, but that year was more about playing football in the back garden because I couldn't bear to watch the England games during the World Cup.

The awful thing about the blanket coverage of this and previous elections is that very few people are interested. Which is stating the bleedin' obvious, but is a message that doesn't get through. The more intense the coverage, the lower the voter turnout. And most of those voting have made their minds up already, ergo, the 24/24 coverage is aimed at, what, about 6 floating voters in a marginal constituency? And 2 of those 6 are listening to Radio 2, one is listening to Radio 1, another is on Classic FM... which leaves about two people actually listening to or watching election coverage.

An exaggeration, but there's my point. On Friday, was it?, when Pope John Paul the Average was funeralised, the local news came on at 6.30, as usual. But instead of local news, it was yet more Pope funeral coverage, because clearly the BBC felt there had not been enough. And yet, there before my eyes, they showed the scenes inside a couple of (local) catholic churches, where memorial services had taken place. In one, it looked like maybe 12 people, including staff. In the other, half a dozen, no more than that.*

Which is about the size of interest in religion and religionists in this country, and still we were force-fed Pope-ups all day long for days and days. Get this: all the people who cared were in Rome. Those unable to travel went to a local church. So I assume we had a billion hours of television and radio, with 20,000 reporters (paid for out of my licence fee blah bblah blah) for a few housebound old ladies. Fantastic! Don't they have their own channel?

So it is with the election. Nobody gives a rat's arse, but we're still forced to sit through it or, more likely, switch off.

When I rule the world, I will ban national campaigning and reporting. Candidates will only be able to campaign within their own constituency. No national coverage, no PM/Chancellor double-act: because they're not, are they? From today, they all lose their status and salaries, so they should all just go home and pound the local streets, knocking on local doors, kissing local babies. Parties will still be able to waste ink and paper by printing manifestos, but apart from that, it will be the local candidates and their local supporters campaigning for each seat in Parliament.

*Another fascinating aspect of these sparsely populated churches was the way in which everyone was sitting as far away as possible from everyone else. Like you do in a cinema. Feel the love, baby Jesus, feel the love.


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