Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reality check / expectations management

The fact that Gordon Brown has been getting some not-entirely-hostile media coverage for his efforts in saving the world economy seems to have led some people to think that Labour is poised to make a great political comeback, starting by winning the by-election in Glenrothes.

This is an example of how watching too much rolling news coverage can rot the brain. What it will mean is that when the next set of opinion polls or the by-election don't match the hype about 'Labour's comeback', then the media commentators will go back to 'Labour is doooooomed, Brown is a disaster' etc etc. We've already had one go at seeing expectations about Labour's popularity soar then crash under Brown, and it didn't turn out all that brilliantly.

For example, I reckon (based only on publicly available information, not any kind of special knowledge) that Labour is going to lose in Glenrothes by a few thousand votes, because it is still the case that it is a mid-term by-election in a seat which the SNP won just under two years ago, and nothing that's happened in the last fortnight will have changed enough people's minds to make a difference to that. And yet on current trends, this will be reported as a shocking and 'game-changing' event which deals a 'blow' to 'Brown's recovery'.

There has been lots written about the political effects of the economic crisis in all the newspapers. But the best and most insightful piece (as well as the funniest) was Charlie Brooker's piece - "Is this the end of the world? If so, it's a bit more boring than I'd imagined"
Sometimes it is the 'low information' analysts who are better at explaining things than those who follow every 'breaking news' story on Sky News.

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