Monday, 19 January 2015

The Labour secret meeting that wasnt in Mill Hill today !

How many ordinary voters, who are not obsessed with local politics follow local politicians etc on Twitter?

My guess is not many. Sadly, unless you are a masochist or a politics wonk, you are unlikely to find much of the Barnet political tweeting of any use for anything apart from a cheap cure for insomnia.

What tends to happen is someone with an entrenched position puts up a stupid comment and lots of other people with entrenched positions put up lots of stupid replies. This whole stupid charade started in 2008 when Barack Obama allegedly won the presidency on the back of a viral twitter campaign by younger voters, swinging the pendulum in his favour. Since then Twitter has been seen by the political class as the holy grail.

It is often said that politics is rock and roll for ugly people. The sad truth is that it is more correctly "rock and roll for out of touch people". Whilst Twitter was the hot new thing in 2008 and it hadn't been done before, like many fads, it has a "been there done that, now my Dad does it" lack of appeal for the younger generation that the out of touch political class are so desparate to connect with. Sadly however, there are still some who haven't cottoned on to the fact. The local Twitter airwaves were buzzing about a supposedly secret meeting where Ed Milliband was addressing locals in Mill Hill this morning.

Some local Tory and Lib Dem activists were getting hot under the collar, because Ed Milliband had turned up for the meeting and stuffed it full of Labour Party grandees, excluding local people. Twitter was ablaze with mock outrage at this snub to local people.

Sadly it was all a load of nonsense. It seems the Labour team had been keen to involve ordinary local people, the sort who aren't glued to twitter in anticipation of local Events with politicians. So what did they do? They advertised it in local Church magazines (see above) and put posters at the library. Now whilst this form of advertising may seem curiously outdated to the twitter addicted political classes of Barnet Politics, it worked rather well. 250 people turned up, which was the capacity of the Hall.

Once the newsletter had been published, destroying the myth of a secret meeting, the tack changed to how it was a small ad and so no one would see it. Again this is wide of the mark. The Sacred Heart Church has 1,400 regular attendees every Saturday and Sunday. Those of us who are Catholics know that most of us read the notices during the service and many take the newsletter home. If I wanted to communicate with ordinary local people I could not think of a better way to get the message across.

The concept that the Labour leader would bother coming to a Church Hall in leafy Hendon Constituency simply to bus in 250 of his mates is truly laughable. What is the point? Basically Andrew Dismore needs to overturn a 105 vote Tory majority to get back in. It is clear every vote counts, which is why Ed was there. The idea that stacking a room full of his mates would serve any purpose, beggars belief.

I recall in the 2010 elections, I was canvassing in Mill Hill and David Cameron magically appeared, in a street just off Devonshire Road, as we were canvassing it. The visit was totally unannounced and there was panic as the local Tories realised that yours truly was there taking pictures and notes for a blog. One of them very nervously strolled up to me and asked what I was doing. I said "I'm canvassing". At which they asked if I was going to disrupt Dave's visit. I was rather affronted by this, given that unlike some of the then local Tory bigwigs I am not a man of violence or a woman beater. I said "Nope, I'll just have a chat with all of the people he's spoken to after he's gone and get some choice quotes". At which Dave decided it was time to move on. After he went, I discussed his visit with a few of the locals. Most thought he was quite a nice bloke, one said "His head is shiny" and one said "He's quite posh". I asked them if they'd changed their mind about voting for him. To a man, the answer was "No". Perhaps the most affronted lady was a local Tory voter who'd decided to ask him in for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. She seemed to be most upset that she'd been a Tory for years and he clearly was terrified at the prospect of sharing a cuppa with her. I rather cheekily said "we'll if there's a cuppa going spare, I could use one". Sadly she wasn't too impressed with that idea and said "Why on earth would I give YOU a cup of tea". In actual fact, Dave would have loved her to have, as it would have stopped me canvassing for an hour or two. In a seat like Hendon, with a 105 majority, that could have made all the difference. So that is my advice. If someone from the side you don't like turns up, give them a cuppa, show them your family albums and bore the pants off them for three hours. Because I believe this election will be won, not on Twitter, but by the party who does the most work on the streets. And really, that is how it should be.

I suppose all of this just confirms what I've suspected for some time. The more time you spend on Twitter indulging in politics, the less sane and rational you become! What these maniac tweeters need is a good spell of canvassing, out in the pouring rain, to bring them to their senses.

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