Much like last weekend's prizefight in Las Vegas, the General Election was meant to be the moment the establishment (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) lost face versus a younger, faster opponent (Manny Pacquiao). Of course, as anyone who saw the fight would testify to, the establishment soon had the measure and guile to neuter the challenger, much to the chagrin of a captive audience desperate for something.... More.
As I write, the Conservatives are on course to win an overall majority in the Commons - a result few had anticipated even some 24 hours ago. It is a stunning result for them, and a cautionary tale for many. That for all the memes, Vines and hashtags, the old school trounced the new school in the most digitally mobile election ever. When the time came, Tory relations with wide swathes of the traditional media (i.e. print, TV, radio) lead to an old fashioned pincer movement of divide and conquer. If people weren't made to feel afraid about the economy, they were made to feel as scared by the break-up of the Union.
The general election was proof that old school political activism - the human perspiration of engaging members young and old - works. As numbers come in for turnout across all the major battleground seats it's clear that the Conservatives and UKIP grasped this. The keyboard and touchscreen warriors systematically failed to translate the hidden majority into an actual one. The Twitterati, the blogosphere and others - failed.
Maybe Ed Miliband's version of Labour just didn't have enough financial moxie, nor stardust support, to see it over the line as many of the opinion polls thought they would. The move to vacate the centre ground will be discussed verbatim for months to come in the probable leadership election that will follow the younger Miliband's exit. And as for the Lib Dems - will any minority party ever again participate in a coalition after their brutal demolition?
But let's not escape a fact Nigel Farage angrily alluded to over election night: the likes of News International/Fox (owners of The Sun, The Times and Sky News) and DMGT (owners of the Daily Mail) played a blinder. It left one wondering what might have been if the likes of Twitter and Facebook were run similarly: based on engagement numbers alone a Labour government with a UKIP-led opposition would have all but been assured. But what is the beauty of large-scale social media is also a curse for the new school: no single voice can truly dominate.
There is no question younger generations will get their time - and proportional representation in parliament looks like it will be a key debate that will dominate the next five years. The power of the old school will wane, as technological hegemony will ensure diverse voices - and ideas - gain a proper platform. That so many chose to vote in 2015 is heartening. We all have to hope lessons are learnt for a fairer fight in the future.Suggest a correction