Don’t confuse the mob!

I can think of one very good reason for the SNP’s voting strategy recommendation – simplicity. The electorate is stupid. Every individual voter might be a genius, but the electorate would still be stupid. Or to be more precise, political campaigns have to assume that the electorate is stupid. Because their message has to be tailored to the stupidest of the voters. Individuals may be clever. Mobs are dumb. Mobs behave in ways that every individual making up the mob would consider stupid. The electorate is a mob.

What defines a mob is not numbers. Although you can hardly have a mob of only two or three individuals. What really defines a mob is the lack of inhibition. Take away all the higher cognitive functions and you’re left with the ‘lizard-brain’ that is part of our evolutionary inheritance. The ‘lizard-brain’ has no conscience. A mob lacks the connections required for organised functioning.

A mob has no self-awareness. It has no impulse control. It can react in only a limited range of ways to only the most basic of stimuli. This means that the mob can be made to behave in a way that appears organised, but is merely obedient. Its actions can look purposeful, but it has no purpose of its own. It serves the purpose of whoever or whatever it obeys.

Every individual voter might understand STV as well as John Curtice does. The electorate can’t even spell STV. Throwing complex messages at the electorate is like reading Das Kapital to a bucket of fishing bait. Worse, in fact. At least you can be sure the maggots won’t misunderstand the message. The maggots, by not responding at all to the stimulus of the message, respond in a totally predictable way. There is no reliable way to predict how a mob will respond to a complex message.

A political campaign is a project intended to get the electorate to act in a particular and predictable way. That campaign’s message therefore must be formulated to elicit a particular and predictable response from the electorate. The political campaigner has no interest in how individual voters behave. Don’t be confused by the candidate’s efforts to appear to be interested in people as individuals. The campaign must engage with the electorate as a mob. It follows that the campaign must eschew complex messages. It must strip its message of all complexity. There must be no scope for interpretation as this will surely lead to misinterpretation.

The ideal campaign message achieves a total absence of complexity by being devoid of meaning. Its purpose is not to inform or educate or advise. The sole purpose of the perfect campaign message is to elicit a predicted response across the entire electorate. I’m not aware that this has ever been achieved. Nonetheless, it is what the campaign must aim for.

There is no point in expecting complex behaviour from the electorate. It has no sophistication. The anticipated behaviour must therefore be as unsophisticated as possible. Bear in mind that a large proportion – on occasion a large majority – of the electorate can’t even manage to pencil a cross in a box on a piece of paper. Asking the electorate to vote in two ballots on the same day is pushing the envelope of the mob’s capacities. Asking that they rank candidates – generally without knowing anything about them other than their party – is like giving a Mensa challenge to a mollusc. Present the mob with a complex campaign message and the only winner will be the daytime TV viewing figures on polling day.

The SNP, like all political parties, wants the votes of the electorate. The most unsophisticated behaviour that can be asked of the mob is that it votes SNP. A message which calls on the electorate to do anything more sophisticated than that is flirting with potentially disastrous confusion. You may protest that you don’t find the message at all confusing. But you are an individual, not a mob. The message isn’t for you. It’s for the mob. As long as that message doesn’t make you behave otherwise than the campaign wants you to behave, the campaign doesn’t care how well or poorly any individual understands the message.

The party’s message can hardly get less sophisticated than “Vote for us!”. So the default choice must be to say that and nothing more. You may think this underestimates the intelligence of the electorate. I would ask how it might be possible to underestimate the intelligence of something that has none?

The SNP’s message in the local elections is simple. As a bonus, it is almost identical to the message the party sent to the electorate in last year’s Holyrood election. It’s the message the party uses all the time. If there is one thing that a campaign message needs as much as simplicity it is repetition. Both improve penetration.

That simple ‘1&2’ message is what has won a remarkable number of campaigns for the SNP. Alba Party has yet to find a message that is as effective. All Alba can do is complain about the SNP having an effective message.

And there’s no use protesting that it’s not about parties and candidates it’s about independence because it’s an election and elections are about parties and candidates by definition. It is shockingly naive for any party to run a campaign that relies on the aid and cooperation of a different party. DON’T say both parties are fighting for the same thing because the only thing either party is fighting for is votes. IT’S AN ELECTION!



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11 thoughts on “Don’t confuse the mob!

  1. Well at least there’s no chance of the wee alba book confusing anyone since it requires a magnifying glass to read it. Thats supposing anyone proceeds to actually open it following a brain scramble inducing back cover which states its non party political but copiously stamped with the party brand. Are the ‘strategists’ even more stupid than the mob?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alba is yet to develop its distinctiveness. Until it does, it’ll come across as being all over the place. One moment it’s a non-party political movement. the next it’s a political party seeking to have candidates elected. You can’t pin them down on anything. At the same time, they have dogmatic beliefs that are unshakeable – such as the ludicrous ‘supermajority’ notion. Alba Party needs one big idea that is entirely its own. And isn’t as daft as the ‘supermajority’ shite.

      I have suggested that explicit support for the process outlined in the #ManifestoForIndependence could be that idea. Starting with the repudiation of the Section 30 process. This would definitely set it apart from the SNP and attract a great deal of attention. That’s what Alba needs just now even more than votes. It needs to be making headlines in the British press. It needs to have British Nationalists railing against it. It needs to be the subject of questions asked in the Commons. If you can’t be big, be bold! If you don’t have a voice, be noisy! If you can’t be an influence, be a nuisance!

      That’s free advice for Alex Salmond. I’m sure he’s hanging on my every word just as Nicola Sturgeon does.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Well, Peter, I’ll not be voting SNP 1 and 2 or Green. I’m a woman and I cannot vote for my elimination as a human being in favour of men who have not a clue about what a woman actually is. Not a scoobie. Betrayal has to come at a price. You are so right about the distinctiveness, though, for ALBA. I agree wholeheartedly. I, too, have been trying to push that one. The only way that ALBA can make a breakthrough is by being far more radical than the SNP without, naturally, being off the wall. That is the trick.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I can’t take issue with any of that. If I was a woman I would probably feel the same way. Even as a man I am deeply unhappy about what is being proposed. After all, it’s my sex that’s being abolished too. But that is a reversible process – however difficult that might be. I have to give priority to Scotland’s cause not least because independence creates opportunities for correcting the mistakes of our own government as well as the abuses and impositions of the British government.

          Scotland’s cause is urgent. Very urgent!

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Here’s the problem I think: an effective campaigning group needs to stick to the issue, ie independence.

          A political party will have a position on lots of issues, so how to prevent that becoming a recipe for failure?

          Back in the 70’s during the Corrie Bill attacks on abortion rights, a Chilean woman who had escaped Pinochet’s terror, commented “we have no abortion rights in Chile, women’s lives are horrendous, but we’re fighting for our country right now”. Recently I was put in a position to prioritise Scotland or women’s rights. My country comes first, because non of us has a decent future under Westminster colonial rule, certainly not us women and our daughters when there’s money to be made from inventing medical conditions.

          The Scottish abortion campaign fought effectively on the one issue. Best strategy on gra maybe is strengthen For Women Scotland in their campaign and take it out of the indy campaign (right now FWS seem to be making hay for the SC&U party) if you have the time to work on multi campaigns. Because Alba’s value is shouting out for indy where high-profile snp voices seem eerily muted.

          I spent a large chunk of my life not voting at all because, being politicians, non of the parties spoke to me at all, thinking I was making a point. I wasnt, I was just playing into tory’s hands and that makes me culpable, because reading between the lines on SC&U utterings on crime & retribution, their ideology is quite barbaric and would bring back hanging if they could.

          My skin’s still crawling after watching Savile documentary last night – 2016 – only six years ago did the truth come out! My god, for those of us growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s the attitudes now seem unbelievable, but apparently its taken 40 years for criminal justice to recognise the mechanisms of sexual abuse against mainly females, and for the rest of society unaware of it, an inkling of what this means for living out this existence in a female body. So maybe no surprise at all it appears to be mostly young women carrying the banners for ‘trans rights’ and 100% men portrayed as the oppressed group. Can we carefully remove this gra ‘spanner’ thats been conveniently wedged into the indy wagon wheels and take it in for forensics?

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly 👏. And by the way we don’t need another political party for Indy in the Union configuration. We don’t need elected Alba folks in that configuration. Alba should remove itself from being a political party, try to join forces with the two main non politcal mouvement and as you say : should be a nuisance to what is already established here and uk wide as both don’t have at heart the quick way to Indy. Is that silly to say that they should take the Union way ?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Alba “needs to be making headlines in the British press. It needs to have British Nationalists railing against it. It needs to be the subject of questions asked in the Commons. If you can’t be big, be bold!”

    Yes, absolutely Peter. Small should mean on-message, honed, consistent, disciplined strategy. Alba has assets ( high profile members) with the clout and platform surely to create headlines where msm largely ignores the indy movement?

    Liked by 3 people

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