BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
Twitter used to be a haven for progressives, both in the UK and the US. It was a place where liberals (not the Burkeian kind) gathered to feel gratified and worthy, where their sentiments and gags were well-received; bouncing off the walls of echo chambers shaped by them and venerated by their likes and retweets. Do-gooders went to bed at night feeling warm and smug knowing that their political views resonated across the platform; sure that together with the other Twitterati they were building a better, more progressive planet. Out with the old, in with the new.
Meanwhile, Twitter was a place conservatives both sides of the pond tried once but soon left. It was a form of torture by social media so brutal that the likes of Louise Mensch went so far as to set up an alternative network – her Menshn network was a noble effort and one which, if it had worked, might have permitted her less lasting mental anguish in the interim years. Hordes of lefties took it upon themselves to badger and troll conservatives until they closed their accounts – they thought themselves expert at virtual annihilation and character assassination, while their technical prowess out-trumped most conservative users. Their successes were a confirmation for them, albeit mistaken, that they were the commanding majority in the real world as well as in the Twittersphere.
2014 and the Scottish Referendum vote was a close shave, highlighting the Twitter potency of the nats. The Labour-voting Twitter dwellers were sure they were now Britain’s political puppeteers – the Sun Tzus and Machiavellis of the political Web – and had no need for the clunkiness of sites like Labourlist or Red Rag anymore.
Then along came the 2015 UK General Election – their great chance. But the idea of weird Marxist Miliband in coalition government with Kleb Sturgeon was so grim to the majority that previously shy Tories sought every which exit through which to shriek and holler about impending doom. Twitter suddenly became a fashionable form of political media and crowds of non-lefties signed up. By now broadband had been rolled out more widely in Britain and smart phones were everywhere. Tory Grannies rather enjoyed pointing out the repetitive failures of socialism to spotty students, back-boned conservatives relished the cut and thrust of squashing the bands of insipid leftie trolls who couldn’t work out what merry hell had hit them from the real world.
When David Cameron joked that elections were not won on Twitter, many liberal dreams were shattered. In the real world they were the minority, but far worse for them: on Twitter too they were now outnumbered. Suddenly it dawned on those on the Left who were not deluded beyond repair that the British were actually a very conservative lot; that Guardian sales were magnified by bulk orders, the liberal audiences on Question Time and BBC comedy shows were not representative of the nation, while the sales of the Mail, Sun, Telegraph and other “right-wing rags” were genuine acquisitions. People really bought what they wanted to read – their newspapers did not shape them; they merely reflected them. Left wing depression set in, Miliband was an electoral car-crash and Balls joined Strictly Come Dancing as if to underline their total Edstone annihilation.
Then along came Brexit. As if being hit by one bus was not enough.
Some lefties tolerated the Twitter newcomers as they were pro-Brexit too, but the globalist, progressive originals were forced to block left, right and centre to preserve their echo chambers – all in vain. Their world was in smithereens politically and virtually. The conservative hordes were now the keyboard warriors while they were reduced to mere trolls. However loud Ian Dunt and AC Grayling screeched, there were conservative and libertarian witticisms which obliterated them, while the likes of Guido brilliantly conducted the People’s orchestra to expose their hypocrisies. Poor “Doctor” Eoin’ and his fake graphs just couldn’t keep up. Godfrey Elfwick had a field day.
It was then the one-cent coin dropped – the Americans realised what their British conservative cousins had done. Brexit they interpreted as bounteous freedom and Breitbart and the alt right took up the conductor’s baton while the Brexit momentum victory tune was still playing.
Hillary was the embodiment of hypocrisy, corruption, globalism, cronyism and leftist claptrap that the world’s conservatives had been praying for. And she became the immediate target of ire and the lever of change that the US Right had been waiting for. Obama’s dreadful record combined with Clinton’s awfulness were an explosive combination which attracted right-wing popular cheerleaders like the actor James Woods (and other brilliant communicators) who set every day Americans on the course of target obliteration via social media – to such an extent that UK liberals could barely watch as Trump rode on the back of a Twitter storm into the White House. Their depression turned to a sense of subjugation; from a collective face-palm into a fatalistic funk.
The Left has still not got over this Twitter revolution. Their echo chambers are in tatters and for General Election 2017 – thanks in part to Mr Corbyn – the Left has sunk yet further and is now attacking itself. Meanwhile, a President who embodies all their worst fears governs by Twitter!
The Left’s anger is palpable; seething. They default-scream “racist, fascist, extremist, bigot, Islamophobia” until they are red in the face but no one listens anymore – those old chestnuts are well and truly exposed and tamed. The Islamists are shot down as soon as they open their mouths now as everyone with a Twitter account has seen sharia in action and can smell the Muslim Brotherhood a mile off – their evil meisterplan is well and truly out of the bag.
The mainstream media is likewise reeling. Even the state-sponsored BBC is wondering what the hell to do while its cutting-edge website is publishing stories often a day after they have appeared on Twitter timelines. “Fake news” is obvious for anyone with half a brain to detect, yet the likes of CNN and MSNBC still claim that they are the monopolisers of real news and that we the ordinary people are too thick to independently determine what is factual or phoney. The branch they cling to is a thin one – their survival in their current state of unrepresentativeness seems improbable if not impossible.
Five years ago, the Left, personified by the likes of Tom Watson and Natalie Bennett, yelled for proportional representation and electronic democracy. They clamoured for legislation changes based on online polls, which they were avidly filling and considered somehow representative.
Now they fear reality. They fear democracy itself – look at how many seats UKIP would have now if electronic democracy genuinely existed in Britain. They now know there are people out there in Britain and America who never voted before but rather enjoyed it over the last year. They have a sneaking suspicion that, when provoked, both in America and in Britain, the clear majority of the electorate will drop kick them into electoral oblivion.
Worse for the Left, the young have begun to see through their charade too – far more often now they put their hands in the air and ask, “Excuse me, professor” much to the chagrin of their cultural Marxist professors. Yes, we have our young Macrons; just fewer and fewer as pragmatic common sense and small government are increasingly recognised as no-brainers.
Twitter used to be dismissible as the home of Twits. Now it is increasingly the home of democracy as the People’s Voice is made heard. The Liberal Elite are screaming and their monopoly is kaput. The old bullies of the Left have metamorphosed into complaining victims and no one believes them. (No, Tony, you are the minority and probably always were – it is not a “tiny minority” who are dictating the terms of Brexit, it’s the voting public.)
Britain and America have changed. We have taught each other many lessons over the years. Some painful. Some wonderful. Let us now rejoice together in the rout of the Twits in this blossoming of freedom. Democracies can be representative; technology can be the friend of the masses – not merely the stick of arrogant fools.