Symbolism: the art of propaganda…

Edward Colston, Slave trader, Tory member of Parliament and…philanthropist. As a liberal who believes that society, the law and democracy should serve only to liberate I abhor slavery and its nefarious influence which still skews our global economy to this very day. The city of Bristol, like so many other western European port towns, lives with the historical scar of Colston’s ill-gotten wealth. There is a hall, tower, schools and streets named after this man throughout the city. In many …

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Catalonia – “Propaganda thrives in a crisis.”

Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède is hoping for a Pedro Almodóvar inspired ending to the wild, dark comedy that characterises the current impasse between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.  From the Guardian article However, the 1 October referendum was hardly a model of sound, democratic expression. Only a minority of Catalans took part (turnout was 43%), and its organisation ran counter to Catalonia’s own legislation. The two laws that led to it were voted through without the two-thirds majority the Catalan charter (the Estatut) requires for …

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Fuelling ignorance – the key to success in modern politics?

We can’t say that we weren’t warned. In his 1928 book Propaganda, the pioneering Austrian-American publicist Edward Bernays unblushingly wrote: The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country. Bernays also coined the term “public relations”, and among his most lucrative coups as a publicist was his …

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What is it that our media don’t ‘get’ about social media…

It’s part of my day job to advise on how to engage with social media. For the most part and for most institutions, it is a largely upbeat story. But for politicians, well, it often gets a little complicated. It used to be that only our journalists got intense lobbying from party press offices. Now it’s as likely to come via the soft power of Twitter and Facebook. So today, Mike Nesbitt, clearly getting a little exasperated with some corporate …

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Co. Cork and a Tale of Two Sea Tragedies

The decade of centenaries in Ireland continues. While voters in Britain and Northern Ireland will be going to the polls, many people in Co Cork will be marking the hundredth anniversary of a war crime. For it was on 7 May 1915 – as if the news could not get any worse, amid appalling military reverses for Irish and British troops in Gallipoli and Ypres – that the Cunard luxury passenger liner Lusitania, on the latest of its many crossings …

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Since we’ve already had a Famine farce, we might as well now have the satire…

Perhaps we care too much about profanities that don’t really matter, and care too little about the ones that really do. Prompted by the controversary over a sitcom that hasn’t even been written yet, Diarmuid Ferriter has this confession to make: I did not feel any great shame, over 15 years ago, in laughing at a satirical song about the Irish Famine of the mid-19th century, and I was not alone. Under the title The Potatoes aren’t looking the best, …

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Peter Hain: “since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do…”

The former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland [and Wales, etc! – Ed], Peter Hain, has been reminiscing about the good old days… “When I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 2005-07, [Prince Charles] was delighted when I told him that since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do. “I was able to introduce a trial for complementary medicine on the NHS, and it had spectacularly good results, that …

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Learning from history: “there was a chance to work things out in a different direction and it wasn’t taken…”

Michael Portillo’s two part radio work on the first world war is well worth grabbing for a listen. Part two is fascinating not least because it looks at the effects of interwar propaganda the widespread acceptance of the idea that the second great war was a general rather than a particular failing: a view brought under particular stress by source material which formed the basis of Griff nach der Weltmacht (Germany’s Aims in the First World War), published by the German …

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“If you set so much store by symbols then don’t be surprised if…”

In the News Letter, Alex Kane has some sensible advice for the recently convened unionist forum.  From the News Letter article So can we stop falling over ourselves in a headlong rush to jump into every elephant trap set for us by Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams’ continuous loop guff about the inevitability of unification? If you set so much store by symbols then don’t be surprised if Sinn Fein keeps gnawing away at the symbols. I don’t need a …

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From #aras97 to #aras11: has the media decommissioned?

Áras an Uachtaráin - residence of the Irish President, and soon to be home to Northern Irish bees

Some more of the commentary on the 1997 Presidential campaign. While many new media tools are available for #aras11, the behind-the-scenes briefing and leaks are probably no different (the end products are summarised here by Mick). While politics inevitably includes a deep interrogation of individual candidate’s past utterances, the contribution of the media to the shape of past election campaigns tends to be kept below the radar by the, eh, media. Similarly, northern commentators, for long briefed by the NIO and security ‘sources’, don’t tend to be reflective when it comes …

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“resulted in it being promotional for the First and Deputy First Ministers and their respective political parties.”

As the News Letter reports, the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom has ruled that an OFMDFM radio advert – part of a £20,000 advertising campaign, in February 2010, promoting the Hillsborough Castle Agreement – was “political advertising” in breach of the Communications Act 2003.  The ruling upheld a complaint made about the advertisement by the leader of the TUV, Jim Allister. It’s worth taking the time to read the details of the ruling provided by Ofcom in their broadcast bulletin [pdf file] Conclusion on “public …

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