With their lead collapsing in the polls, the Tories are planning on spending over £1m on online campaigning in a desperate effort to hang onto power. Presumably they are no longer confident that their billionaire friends who control the media will be able to deliver the goods when it comes to beefing up Theresa May, and knocking down Jeremy Corbyn.
The Tories intend to use their rich donors’ money to flood Facebook and YouTube with targeted adverts attacking Corbyn, whilst playing up May’s “strong and stable leadership”. However, their constant barrage of attacks can in fact have the opposite effect to that intended, by drawing attention to their own deceit and panic.
For example, the most viewed video published on the Conservatives’ Facebook page edits together a string of un-contextualised quotes from Corbyn on issues such as defence, terrorism, and the IRA. Although it has been viewed millions of times, the comments section is revealing, as a brief scroll through uncovers comment after comment furious at the Tories’ duplicity.
In contrast, a video posted by Momentum called “We’re all in it together” - which juxtaposes a rich banker benefitting from Tory tax breaks, to a nurse struggling to make ends meet due to years of cuts and rent increases - has gone viral with 3.2 million views. Unlike the Tory video attacking Corbyn, the overwhelming majority of the comments are positive.
Run Corbyn Run
Inspired by Jean-Luc Melenchon’s campaign in France, a group of crowd-funded Labour supporting game developers created Corbyn Run. In the game you play Corbyn, recovering money from tax-dodging bankers and accountants, whilst trying to avoid sabotage from Tories such as Boris Johnson and Thatcher’s ghost.
As you build up money, you can unleash manifesto pledges, such as abolishing zero-hour contracts, scrapping tuition fees, and saving the NHS. As you do, you are joined by an army of supporters, including Deliveroo drivers, students, and nurses, in your fight to take on the Tories.
The game was downloaded over 2000 times in the first three hours from its launch. Although not a substitute for mass rallies and street campaigning, it is an excellent initiative to help popularise Corbyn’s manifesto, particularly among young people who may not have previously voted.
It’s hard to imagine a Tory equivalent – playing Theresa May as you cut money from hospitals, schools, and pensioners. Hence the negative campaign of the Tories generally. Since the ruling class can offer nothing but austerity - as demanded by the logic of the crisis of capitalism - they resort instead to desperate attempts to dirty the name of Corbyn and his supporters.
Top of the charts
Meanwhile, a song by Captain SKA which calls Theresa May a “Liar Liar” has rocketed through the charts, to become the most downloaded song on both iTunes and Amazon in the UK.
The music video highlights May’s various U-turns, the Tories’ cuts to the NHS, education, and social care, and declares that the only answer is “people rising up”. The message has clearly struck a chord, with the video receiving over 1.5m views on YouTube.
Despite rapidly rising in the charts to potentially reach no.1 in the official singles chart, radio stations are refusing to play it, hiding behind so-called “impartiality rules”. The hypocrisy of these “rules” is obvious to all – the fact that the ruling class can pump out no end of anti-Corbyn propaganda on the radio, but refuse to air a song critical of the Tories, has led to a protests against this censorship of the media.
That the mainstream media is so out of touch with the views and experiences of millions is testified by analysis by Kaleida, who have documented the number of Facebook shares of political articles since the snap election was called.
By far the most shared article was from a pro-Corbyn blog, Another Angry Voice, titled “How many of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies do you actually disagree with?” – clocking up a massive 102,655 shares. The nearest article from the traditional press was an article in the Independent, with nearly half that number of shares (54,006).
Other traditional press outlets fared even worse, with the most shared article on the Guardian reaching 38,538; the BBC with 28,189, and the Daily Mail with 23,583. No wonder then that the Tories are desperate to spend a fortune on targeted Facebook and YouTube adverts, when their usual propaganda channels are becoming increasingly overlooked as simply mouthpieces for the rich.
At root this crisis of the media is a symptom of the deep crisis of capitalism. It is no longer possible for the press to continue to paint a rosy picture of life, when the experience of millions is to the contrary. With Corbyn’s manifesto extremely popular, the more the media attack him, the more they expose themselves as agents of the ruling class.