Hope. The message of the Sun and the Telegraph today - though at least the Tele has the good manners to tell you that the message came from David Cameron
'Choose hope over fear' - it's a message a lot of us can relate to. Some might say it's exactly the reason why they didn't vote Conservative. But it's a message that Cameron's cheerleaders have been banging on about since day one,
and it's a theme that has been carrying right on throughout the election. Fear is driving a lot of this campaign - be it fear about immigration, fear about the debt, fear about David Cameron, fear about Liberal Democrats, fear about a hung parliament, or whatever.
Now comes the positive message from the Sun, likening Cameron to Barack Obama. You might think there are very few parallels to draw, and that it's a fairly bizarre comparison - the first ever black President versus the umpteenth Etonian Prime Minister; a charismatic politician versus a leader who fails to spark excitement even among his own supporters; a brilliant public speaker versus someone who, while slick, isn't a cut above his rivals. I think, though, the comparison the Sun would like you to draw is the idea of change and hope - people hoped when Obama came to power that things would change, and that he would bring hope after 8 long years of Bush II. I fail to have that hope for Cameron. He fills me with fear, dread and a certain queasiness, as does the prospect of a Tory Government, as I said yesterday. I don't really know what hope he inspires in others, or whether it's just the idea of change. But I don't think today's Sun front page will go down as a classic or a defining moment. It won't be the Sun wot won it this time around, no matter what they might try and tell you in the wake of the Cameron victory that I hope won't happen. While the Sun might claim it's going for hope, its front page just fills me with fear. And it's laughably wrong to try and compare David Cameron with Barack Obama - so wrong that I'm pretty sure a lot of Sun readers took a look at it and thought: "Eh? What the hell's going on here?"
Not only that, but it's an image that is ripe for spoofing, as this post over at Liberal Conspiracy shows.
The Express, also, go for a bit of hope, though it's mixed in with fear. They claim Cameron is like Obi-Wan Kenobi - our ONLY hope. Then they ramp up the fear factor with a bit of scaremongering about the Lib Dems and a hung parliament, for good measure, to really force home the message. And there's the picture of Cameron, tieless and sleeves rolled up, like anyone gives a shit, the picture he'd like everyone to see him as. Remember these predictions of a hung parliament 'disaster' if it does happen, though, and the papers don't get their way. Let's see what kind of 'disaster' it really is. But then, the Express knows all about predictions. Remember this?
The Express loves a bit of catastrophism. But is a hung parliament really going to be a disaster, as the Conservative Party - and its friends in the press - are saying? Or is it just a tactic to get voters to fear anything other than a decisive victory for the party out in front in the polls, the one which - coincidentally enough - they want to win?
For once you have to say the Mail are actually quite subtle in their pushing of readers.
Don't panic, though. It's just a way of getting you to panic. Panic! Panic about debt! Panic about riots! Panic about Labour and the deficit! Panic about anything other than Conservative victory! Panic! Panic now! Panic about what's going to happen! Panic about anarchy and murder! Panic about everything! Keep panicking until you get into the polling booth... and... relax.
The Times do pretty much the same, though they need a cartoon to nudge their readers in the Right direction:
It's about fear again. Fear of Gordon Brown, the grotesque caricature of Brown they've put in their cartoon, and fear of the deficit. Fear of everything going wrong, and fear of the wrong people being in charge - you know, people who won't look after the rich. It's all about fear.
The Guardian are similar, also tapping into fear. They want their readers to fear a Conservative Government, so have picked the poll which shows David Cameron's shower with the biggest lead, just to emphasise how much they need their readers to get out and vote:
Just look at his face! Look at it! I can see why that tactic might work. It's certainly working on me. I can't help looking at that little smile and imagining it in Downing Street tomorrow afternoon.
But now it's all done. They've had their say. The Conservatives in this election are supported by the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph, the Times, the Financial Times, The Star and the Express. The Lib Dems are supported by the Independent and the Guardian. Labour are supported by the Mirror. Does that reflect the votes that will be cast today? I hope not, and I'd be full of fear if I think it did break down that way. But that's the final push to get the chosen candidates over the winning line, and to avoid the 'disaster' of a hung parliament. Have the papers had the influence they want? Or does seeing David Cameron mocked up as Barack Obama on the front of the Sun make some people even more determined to stop him from getting the coronation his media cheerleaders so desperately want? We will have to wait and see. I'm still full of hope, but the fear is creeping in too.