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INSIDE TRACK: After the head-to-head, the battle for influence began

A shiny London hotel meeting room a few minutes walk from the House of Commons played host to one of the strangest sights in modern politics this week - the "spin room".

Next door Nick Clegg and a rather sweaty and red-faced Nigel Farage had just finished an hour-long head-to-head debate on the future direction of the EU, and the United Kingdom's role within it.

Back in the air-conditioned ­ ante-room, decked out in red, white and neon blue colours, which left it looking not unlike a US Democrat party convention, political spinners tried to persuade journalists - and through them the voters at home - of the truth of what they had just seen with their own eyes.

Though Labour and the Conservatives had dramatically opted out of taking part in the debate representatives of a sort from both parties were there - whether officially sanctioned or not.

One was the famously eurosceptic Tory MP Peter Bone (he of the "I was discussing at breakfast this morning with Mrs Bone and she was wondering..." queries at Prime Minister's Questions).

He toured the room saying he wanted to see voters get real answers to tough questions on the EU.

A snap poll released within minutes of the final whistle suggested voters knew where they stood on the performances.

Ukip leader Mr Farage was declared the clear winner over the Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal democrat leader Mr Clegg.

A deeper reading of the figures, however, suggested there were many, many more members of the public agreeing with Nick, to coin a phrase, than perhaps the current opinion polls would suggest. And so everyone who took part could claim that they had won. But that reading revealed really only part of the story.

For alongside the more traditional snap opinion poll another piece of analysis work was being done - by a worm.

Burrowing its way along a sophisticated graph the metaphorical worm showed how ordinary people were reacting to the debate on the internet.

Some will be little surprised to discover women were not reacting particularly at all, or at least in much smaller numbers than men. But there were some other intriguing findings,

Surprisingly, a weak joke by Mr Farage, that the EU had helped improve the quality of UK food, which fell rather flat with the audience in the debate room itself, caused a huge spike.

But, perhaps more interestingly, there was a deep flatline when Mr Clegg talked at length about how leaving the EU might cost UK jobs.

Political strategists insist they are relaxed about this kind of finding. They point to evidence they say shows this kind of political message seeps in over time, even if it takes quite a bit of repetition to get people to listen.

And some psephologists argue this type of survey shows very little.

They are perhaps more of interest to social anthropologists, revealing how ordinary people interact with and react to both modern politics and modern technology.

But political parties cannot afford to ignore the anthropological approach entirely.

And the question is posed nonetheless about the overall impact of a long-term strategy that will use "jobs, jobs, jobs" to convince the public to stay in the EU. And, of course, the Union.

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