TONY JOHNSON: Manny Festers

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General Election
General Election 2019

Manny n. A diminutive name.

Fester n. The condition of something that festers.

Yes – it’s week 3 of the 2019 General Election and the main party manifestos have been lunched. 

‘Lunching’ is one of 2019’s completely fictional pastimes by which serious attempts are made to rip your opponents’ proposals to bits, then leave the rest to compost down.

Everything’s available free online

Of course the manifestos are available online and they’re really quick and easy to get copies of. Plus they’re free.

If you’ve grown up on print manifestos, printed books, printed newspapers, you’ll understand that print has some disadvantages. It costs money to produce & purchase, plus it’s harder to search quickly – being just a couple of them. Longevity is a third one, but this can be an advantage too.

And surely the disadvantages only arise if you aren’t computer savvy or don’t have ready access to the internet ?

Well, not quite.

Parties behaving badly

Experienced voters will understand that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch – Tanstaafl for short. Of course we’re talking manifestos rather than lunches but the principle’s the same.

Because one of the difficulties of the internet is that it can be subverted all too easily and what gets published can be changed, hidden or withdrawn so that what was said originally can’t be found later for reference.

And when this comes to voting on nation-changing political promises, this really matters.

The Internet’s shot, can it be saved

Lies, damn lies and ‘Internet facts’ are just three of the reasons why Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the ‘www’ bit of the internet, has called for a global plan to save it from political manipulation, fake news, and privacy violations. All topics which have come to a head during the UK’s General Election in 2019.

Luckily he’s got the backing of those two great bastions of digital free speech and global transparency, Facebook and Twitter, on his side. At least according to the logos appearing on his Contract for the Web announced this week, he has.

The publicly acknowledged problems with the Internet reminds us why print still has an edge. Partly because it’s MUCH harder to edit or erase after it’s been published and partly because it comes from a named source whose real world identity has a modicum of responsibility (and liability too for that matter).

So there’s a role for hard copy (press) and independent storage (libraries) that transcends the political cesspit that t’web has been dipped in.

Getting the authentic Manifestos

In the Borough of Wokingham there’s four constituencies with 20 candidates (total). 80% come from just four parties (Green, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative).

Of the four main parties, each was given an equal opportunity on Monday this week to indicate how one might get hold of an official printed copy of their manifesto. (with emphasis on ‘printed’)

A local Green Party member advised me to call the party HQ. When I did, a lady stated clearly that they weren’t producing a print copy, only a pdf soft copy, and that it was available on the Internet.

A local Liberal Democrat Party member advised that they would get me a copy. I discovered later that it can be purchased online at LibDemImage.co.uk – price £11.60, so plan to pay for it.

A local Labour Party member advised me that they had one spare copy. I later discovered that it can be purchased online at shop.labour.org.uk – price £6.00, a sum I happily paid when collecting the copy later that evening.

A local Conservative member advised me to call Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ). When I did I was asked to write an email explaining what I wanted, so I did. I subsequently discovered that I couldn’t find a copy to purchase online and haven’t heard back from CCHQ either. However, I did get an SMS from the local member later that afternoon with a link to a pdf soft copy I’d already got. So I called them back to explain exactly why I wanted a proper hard copy.

Making them available

While all this was unfolding, I also contacted WH Smith headquarters to discover if they were planing to make Manifestos available on sale as their firm used to do back in the 1990’s. Their press officer’s response was prompt and informative, alas yielding no local source that I can recommend you to.

So if you believe that a pdf manifesto isn’t quite worth the paper it’s written on (and to avoid you having to go through all of the above), The Wokingham Paper is making available the pdf soft copy of any election manifestos that have been checked as being identical to the hard copy.

The Last Word

Being virtually out of space this week, that’s it for Manifestos, so all observations on them and their costings are being made available online …

… what am I saying ???

Better make that … held over to next week’s paper – IN PRINT.

When you can find out what’s been promised and costed in the manifestos and what hasn’t.

caveat.lector@icloud.com

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