THE BLOG

In the Real World No One Cares About Digital Detox Withdrawal

19/02/2016 17:22 GMT | Updated 18/02/2017 10:12 GMT

For the past five days I've been stuck in the wilds of remotest Northumberland, it's been a revelation.

For the most part I've been completely detached from my ordinary life, I've had no wifi, no cell coverage, no Twitter or Huff Post: I've been going crazy. There's been no vibrations in my pocket and no android signature tone when I receive a direct message, sensations that are so much part of my normal life.

Apart from watching breakfast news my wife says that I've been on a 'digital detox' but I have a secret: I haven't.

A couple of times a day, on the premise that I need to make sure the car battery is topped up, I've ventured into near(ish) towns and villages to make sure my e-mails are downloaded and I can at least partially keep up with what's happening in the world of politics.

But it's made me realise something. My separation from my world of politics has been difficult but the truth is what I have experienced over the past few days is what most people experience 365 days a year.

No one I have spoke with over the past few days feels like they are having withdrawal symptoms because they haven't heard the latest on Tim Montgomerie's (disappointing) resignation from the Conservative Party.

I can guarantee you that in the Post Office people are not discussing whether Mr Cameron has got a good deal on the EU or not, you should have seen the look I got when I raised it.

It's made me realise just how how far the twitterati, me included, are away from the lives of 'ordinary people'.

The only conversation I have had which came anywhere close to being a political one is a chat in the pub with a group of (mostly) public sector professionals on what possessed Labour to elect Mr Corbyn as leader (if you're interested six or seven thought 'are they having a laugh', one thought 'inspirational choice').

And that's it. That's politics in the real world.

It makes you realise just how tough any opposition party has got it. To huge numbers of people it's not about setting out distinct manifesto's, it's about whether people are fed up with the current government or whether, on balance, they trust them in taking the country in the right direction.

I honestly don't know whether public disengagement is good or bad for Labour, a lot depends on how badly the Conservative government manage the economy, but I do know that Corbynmania, and for that matter Corbyn hatred, is something which doesn't now and never has existed outside the minds of a few Twitter activists.

Any political activist will tell you that with changes to electoral registration, boundaries and trade union affiliation Labour has a mountain to climb to win the next general election.

The truth that has come home to me this week is that, no matter what any hashtag tells you, Labour isn't yet even in the foothills.

I can't wait to get back to my Twitter bubble.