The multiple hoo-haa of a fixed electoral term.
In General Election terms this hasn’t happened before. Locally it has, but local doesn’t matter to the same people (The people with big money, the people with strong power, so much the same people). No, what’s happening now is that we know for sure next May is definitely the date of the next General Election. Because a fixed electoral term of 5 years was set early on by this particular Government. This hasn’t happened before nationally and it’s causing a bit of a hoo-haa.
Not familiar with the term? It means (my definition):
“Hoo-haa’ (old political trick). Drumming up a fuss. Never over a big issue. Small error or minor offence anyone could understand – bigged up for apparent short term political gain.”
You see, normally around this stage of a government’s life there would be ‘speculation‘. That a ‘snap’ election might be called if the opposition leader forgot to mention the economy at his annual conference. Or that a vote of ‘no confidence’ might cause an early election if the sitting government were continually embarrassed by bye-election results. Maybe, like 5 years ago, a recent and unexpected piece of good performance in an unforeseen global economic catastrophe promotes ‘speculation’ of a belt for the polls while the going appears good? You see, the ‘speculation’ itself would be the big news and would keep the political chatterers occupied. Not this time.
This time we know the General Election’s next May and it’s changed everything. 10 reasons why:
1. Everyone’s got an electoral strategy. So what usually happens in the month you’d get after an election is called is already happening. Risking, of course, the potential exhaustion to the point of indifference of us, the electorate. But no mind, that too is a line in the strategy. Don’t want what nearly happened in Scotland there where the whole electorate got really interested and nearly changed everything!
2. The marketing department’s have got it planned. Or you’d hope they have. Bacon buttie eating training is now completed and all the PR types are confident. Except, oh no…
3. The dirty politics is worked out in advance. All guilty secrets, even about trivia, are known and tagged and ready to be ‘leaked’ if anyone appears to be doing too well closer to the day. Don’t blow the mild flirtation now or the Tweeted joke. Leave them ’til the shocked leak is too late for people to forget!
4. It’s like the next X Factor or Strictly. Performance, performance, performance. Not of course long term public service performance, don’t be silly. No it’s ‘just about getting away with it’ performance ’til the end of the current series, or the ‘General Election’ as this one’s called.
5. Leaders, Image, Personality. That’s what the judges are looking for. Local candidates popular locally? Well someone’s got to knock on the doors but make no mistake, this series will be won and lost by the Leaders.
6. Big money big media and big power behind precisely timed campaigns. Though the real leaders aren’t of course the bit part Leaders who may, even yet, be threatened with ‘Leadership challenges’ if the show’s ratings show signs of slipping. Individual characters are expendable and may lose out to…
7. Deliberately bigged up hoo-haa to penalise the slightest error. Which is what’s happening right now. Two hoo-haa in two days. Hoo-haa₂? As in ‘squared’. The ‘celebrity’s garage’ hoo-haa and the ‘oh did I just send that tweet?’ hoo-haa (a new classic of the genre). Neither of them showing us much, other than celebrities can be dickheads, TV cameras don’t like it if you’re seen to be thinking before answering, and some politicians are a bit arrogant. So what? If they weren’t drummed up into hoo-haa the likes of these would soon be forgotten. But the game we’re all in here is…
8. Making sure no real quality democratic debate happens under any circumstances.
9. Just the TV debates.
10. Which will therefore be about the hoo-haa – not real life issues.
Because it’s not true that most things don’t matter. Not at all. But some things like hunger, homelessness, global austerity as a method of class control and terror as a method of population subservience might be getting to matter so much that they’re simply too important to be given the chance of a proper public airing over such a long public debate. From now to next May full of public library and social housing discussions? Forget about it.
So expect to be fed a steady diet of hoo-haa from now ’til then. You’ll soon learn to spot them by pausing and asking yourself, does this really matter? The day after tomorrow will this really matter? The answer with a hoo-haa is always ‘No!’
I didn’t make up this hoo-haa thing by the way. I remembered it from Francis Wheen ‘Hoo-hahs and Passing Frenzies: Collected Journalism, 1991–2001’ (mainly consisting of columns written for The Guardian). I just didn’t remember the same spelling.