I don’t usually do politics here, please bear with me. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Marc Maron has just released a new album, and Keith Malley’s 8th album is coming out tomorrow, and I’m on my third month of veganism.
During the riots we had 24 hour news on TV in my house. They were reporting predominately about London, and barely ever mentioned the riots outside of London. The bits they did report from London were repeated on an endless loop, often excluding new breaking news. In short, we knew something bad was happening, but not precisely what, or where. As I live in Bristol I wanted to know what was happening in my city, were we safe, would my work still be there tomorrow, things like that.
So I did what many people did, I turned to Twitter for news. Crowd-sourcing news and information is one of Twitter’s massive strengths. There were people setting up riot hashtags letting people know what trouble areas to avoid. Even the police were using Twitter accounts to reassure, and inform people of what was happening.
Twitter was extremely valuable to countless people all over the country, and did far more good than harm. We even got to see the Big Society in action, there was a #riotcleanup hashtag and accounts (like @bristolriots) where people organised, while the riots were still happening, hundreds of people to get together and move in first thing in the morning to cleanup their communities.
This must have been very distressing for Cameron. The Big Society was in action in two different ways. Both as a news source and as a cleanup operation. Without him, and more damningly, without the private sector. People were doing it, for themselves, by themselves, with no money changing hands. This is not his vision of modern Britain!
Cameron is a highly manipulative, devious and cunning person. The Big Society was his way of trying to sell an emotion and an ideal, without really understanding that emotion. Empathy, compassion, community and caring. Like all effective psychopath’s he’s studied people’s behaviour. He knows what his reaction probably should be, and he knows what people want to hear, but he has no idea how to do it or even why he should.
Wait, are you saying Cameron’s a psychopath?
Psychopath, sociopath, I’m not pretending I’m qualified to say. But, in my opinion, yes, most probably. Psychopaths often end up in positions of power due to their lack of empathy and their cunning, and manipulative tendencies. I’d say that Thatcher, Blair and Cameron are all likely contenders. Clegg isn’t, he’s too weak and would never side with someone so domineering if he was.
What does this have to do with Twitter?
I’m getting off the point. Cameron reacted very poorly to all this. For him to take his eye off the ball like this is very unusual. He spend the first few days of the riots in a villa in Tuscany on holiday, and when he eventually showed up, realised that he had massively underestimated what was going on and had to be seen to be making strong decisions. Social media is an easy target, but shutting down people’s communication is knee jerk and reactionary. It wont solve anything. You might as well shut down phone lines and the postal service. The riots would have happened without social media, they always have before.
It’s not that simple though, is it?
No. I think it’s simpler. It’s revenge. It’s personal.
During the phone hacking scandal recently, much of the story and many of the new developments broke on Twitter. When information breaks out on there you can’t stop it, eventually the mainstream media is forced to recognise it, even though they were sometimes days late with the news. Given that Murdoch controls much of the news here, the story would have been ignored until it went away if it were not for Twitter, and the work of The Guardian. Twitter’s role in keeping the scandal on the news agenda was huge. This caused David Cameron massive embarrassment and has threatened his premiership. It could still bring him down. He has a personal axe to grind with Twitter so this sort of kick back is really not surprising. He’s been handed a situation where he can take a swipe at the social movement that’s caused him the most hurt yet, and he may well try and go for it. Right now he’s doing a cost, benefit analysis (he is after all, a Tory). I expect he’ll realise he has too much to lose and not enough to gain.
To overuse a poker metaphor’s: The News of the World fiasco left Cameron severely short stacked. He only has enough chips left to play one or two more hands. It takes a weak player to wait until their blinds come up and they are forced all in on an unseen hand, and he doesn’t want to appear weak. He’s trying to work out whether he can shove all in now on a hand with a little potential, or wait for the next uncertain one. He should fold this one. He’s not that short stacked. Not quite yet.