Apr 10

Nick Clegg Rages Impotently From Within The Machine

FT9 comments • 428 views

That is the hidden truth that this Facebook group is trying to dodge. Instead they want you to make a link between Rage Against The Machine and Liberal Democrats. And I cannot help but think this is both the most brilliant piece of Lib Dem campaigning I have seen yet, and the most terrible. The parallel between voting Lib Dem and buying that Rage Against The Machine record are not as wild as one might think. Even on a glib level there is a sheer parallel between trying to topple the done deal of X Factor Christmas number ones and the done deal of a Labour/Tory victory. OK, we aren’t going to see Nick Clegg saying fuck five time on Radio 5 Live, but if Nicky Campbell can reveal his own true name on the radio anything can happen.

If anything characterised the Rage Against The Machine campaign it was its genuine goodnaturedness from the central organisers. Sure it attracted a lot of anti-pop rhetoric and personal insults slung at Simon Cowell, who was big enough and high waisted enough to take them. But there was a central charity motive, the dudes in charge were sheepishly enthused and there was a sense of testing the people power aspects of trying out this social networking thing. But also at the heart of the matter IT DIDN’T MATTER. Sure to a few people, ITV and whatever his name was wot won it might have been a bit annoying, but the nation was just titillated by an interesting news story. On the Facebook page there is a stab at emulating this good natured bonhomie, but also a sense that the whole thing underestimates the very importance of an election.

“Also, the group wasn’t set up by lib dems, it was set up by Ben Stockman. He sent Jon Morter (creator of the RATM group) an email asking if he would mention the group. Jon Morter liked the idea… and that’s how it took off!! “

Firstly the idea that John Morter is one of the nations trend setters is very interesting, he does after all have a lot of people signed up to a Facebook group who feel rather well disposed to him. There is also a lot here which tiptoes around previous “Rock the Vote” type campaigns – though the parallels with a band who brand themselves as anti-authoritarian and often anarchist seems a bit of an odd fit. As a consequence many of these types of campaigns end up using ideas around voting being cool (Avril Lavigne does it), or in this case a bit of a lark. “Let’s see if we can affect the election for a laugh” was surely the rallying cry of the Monster Raving Loony Party (sorry Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party). That and the introduction of a 99p coin.

But as you scroll down the page there are stabs at political education, raging against the political machine that reduces our third party into having barely a dent on politics on the national scene. As the site turns into what it clearly is (and should be), a party political webcast on behalf of the Lib Dems it will turn off those who want to have fun. But who ever scrolls down a webpage, not when there are opinion polls to be gamed too. And if they manage anything with this each of their votes will be worth the same as everyone who only ever votes Labour cos their parents did or married Tories who want their £150 pounds.

That said, the quote on the page saying “Voting Lib Dem is like playing a game on hard mode” is just plain wrong. Voting Lib Dem is like reaching the boss level in a game, and not fighting back.


  1. 1
    Claire on 15 Apr 2010 #

    People joining the site are only doing so because they believe in Lib Dem policies, and think that the first-past the post system puts them at a disadvantage when compared to Labour and Conservative.

    The group makes it clear that:

    “This group is intended to encourage those who would like to vote Lib Dem, but usually don’t in favour of strategic voting, that if we unite we can really see a change in the 2 party system.”

    “We’d like to see people who agree with Lib Dem policies actually voting Lib Dem for a change. Like John Cleese said; if everyone who’d like Lib Dem to be in power voted for them, they’d win. And it’s great to see so many of you have decided to trust your vote this time!”

    Doesn’t sound to me like they are tying to undermine the importance of an election as you suggest. In fact, it sounds like they are trying to increase the importance of the election by discouraging tactical voting.

  2. 2
    Tom on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Their new election broadcast has someone talking about Lib Dem policies over a Brian Eno soundtrack.

    I say “someone” when in fact I assume it was Nick Clegg, but the broadcast gave me the rather shameful realisation that I have NO IDEA what Nick Clegg either looks or sounds like, and so I’m guessing that any earnest young fellow in a suit on a Lib Dem broadcast must in fact be him. (NB I am none the wiser after looking at the pic on this post. I mean, it MIGHT have been him on the video. He’s not what you’d call distinctive. At least Cameron looks like a fat Auton.)

    What is interesting about the LDs campaign this time round is that they have someone on the team the public seems actually quite keen to see in office, but unfortunately it isn’t their leader.

  3. 3
    Pete on 15 Apr 2010 #

    Yes, I was discussing the Vince Cable situation the other day with a Labour campaigner. It causes a bit of a problem with a hung parliment because a lot of people would possibly fancy a Labout gov with Vince Cable as Chancellor, but
    a) Would either side give the Treasurer to the junior partner
    b) If you make Cable the Chancellor it sort of undermines Nick Clegg as whatever job he gets (Foreign Sec usually) would not be as good as Chancellor.

    @ This John Cleese quote seems to be getting a lot of play: “if everyone who’d like Lib Dem to be in power voted for them, they
    would win”
    This needs a bit more rigour behind it rather than trusting a man with a silly walk who last did something funny in the late seventies. Tactical voting does not explain them never polling more that 22%.

  4. 4
    Ben on 17 Apr 2010 #

    They do have some good policies, though. Their idea for a bus scrappage scheme (along the lines of the car scrappage scheme) would create thousands of jobs in manufacturing industries, improve the quality of our public transport, and help the environment (by upgrading more of our old, polluting fleet).

    They’ll poll more than 22% this time round, with or without Facebook groups.

  5. 5
    weej on 18 Apr 2010 #

    Pete, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you here.
    ‘Clockwise’ was also fairly funny.

  6. 6
    Matt DC on 19 Apr 2010 #

    This thread appears hopelessly out of date a mere four days on from the original post.

  7. 7
    wichita lineman on 20 Apr 2010 #

    Out of date for the moment, but give it another week or so.

    Which policies have people been bowled over by? None. Nick Clegg just handled himself better than Brown and a surprisingly tetchy Cameron – I’m guessing they’ll both be cramming like mad to win the next non-X Factor debate.

    Clockwise did my nut in.

  8. 8
    Mark M on 20 Apr 2010 #

    Re 7: people I know who have interviewed him say that Cameron gets very edgy when asked any question he hasn’t been fully briefed about – even if it’s something he in theory knows about.

  9. 9
    Lily on 20 Apr 2010 #

    It’s a bit of facebook fun, on the surface.

    However,I’d argue that many people who ‘would’ vote Lib Dem, don’t because they see it as a wasted vote (so it has been called for years), however, if a large number of facebook users join this group, and others like it, it could give potential LibDem voters the confidence to stick a X in the LibDem box. So maybe, just maybe, this group *could* change the world?

    I’d like it if it did

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page