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Mike at PoliticalBetting thinks that Craig Oliver is a better hire than either of Ed Miliband’s communications men, because of Oliver’s history in television. He goes on to say that a ten-to-fifteen second clip of Prime Minister’s Questions on the news will have a more substantial effect than any newspaper article.
I didn’t use to watch the six o’clock news – but I am currently living in a historic world where we do not have satellite or freeview television, thus do not have the rolling benefits of Sky News – and so didn’t used to know that they showed this clip. I have however noticed it over the recent weeks. Yet this shows the country a political system that, whenever asked they seem to abhor. During the last election some of the electorate, I remember, shared a feeling that politicians were all about spin, PR and soundbites, rather than actually standing for anything. People don’t like that politicians lie: whether it be the Lib Dems on tuition fees, the Tories on the Lisbon Treaty, or Labour for two wars. There is little trust in our politicians and despite what the politicians say, I don’t think this is entirely down to the expenses scandal.
Gearing politicians towards the few seconds they might receive on the news, is gearing them further towards a soundbite culture of politics. We do not want this as a country; our politicians used to believe in something.
Mike is right that the sound clip on the 6 o’clock news will be instantly more recognisable than Kevin Maguire’s column in the Mirror. It seems to be that the political columns in newspapers, generally, are read by people who already have a deep interest in politics. For those that don’t, it is the headline on the front page or the ordering of stories throughout that will influence thought. Likewise I do not think that the twenty seconds of Prime Minister’s Questions shown on the BBC News will stay in people’s minds: that’s just the same old political world. Whereas the other twenty-five minutes of the news, discussing how severe the cuts are, will stay with people. Perhaps TV is the future, I have not thought about that as much as others may have done, but Mike’s point is that Craig Oliver will improve DC for soundbites, and importantly this is not something that will change the apathy of the general public.