United Kingdom

How the pandemic changed political communication

The social impact of COVID is self-evident. We’ve touched on everyday aspects of our lives, from simple tasks such as shopping to meeting family members and socializing with friends (but not) at Zoom. Each of these has been transformed over the last year in ways unimaginable before March 2020.

This also applies to the types of languages ​​used by politicians and what the audience expects when they hear them. This is because politicians, large and small, no longer appear in front of the crowd. They don’t meet voters or their political parties, and even in Congress, they’re just talking in front of a small group of fellow MPs who are socially distant.

All this affects the quality of our liberal democratic discourse. It also changes the type of argument that politicians use to justify their decisions (and the extent to which such changes are exposed to true democratic scrutiny). For example, since March 2020, changes in free society norms, values ​​and expectations have changed rapidly with little parliamentary or media oversight. Freedom has been restricted in order to impose a blockade.These changes were made for public health reasons, but nonetheless Democratic social customs..

Pandemic PMQ

The prime minister’s question will usually be a noisy opportunity at the House of Commons. The leader is trying to uncover the intellectual and political deficiencies of the adversaries and their arguments. The traditional purpose of this exercise is to show that each leader can involve the backbencher in a frenzy of supportive voices, which allows them to vote for their party to a potential future victory.

COVID turned down the volume considerably. The pandemic has removed most physical audiences (MPs) and changed the tone of questions and answers to rival forensic special committees. It is no longer necessary to have a loud display of support or a speaker requesting an “order” on a regular basis. In the current situation, PMQ has turned into a calm exchange of questions and answers. There is little or no interaction with the MP’s physical or virtual audience.

Another area rhetorically influenced by COVID is media involvement. Sit-in interviews may continue in a socially distant way. Larger weekly program However, on the Rolling News channel, politicians are now “zoomed in” from their home office, and the home office itself sends interesting messages to its viewers.Politicians Use these settings Use props such as books, framed photos, or other items such as plants to try to convince the audience of their rhetorical personality. The purpose is to make the interview a little more open and potentially more constructive by putting the politician in a domestic environment, but this setup is provided by face-to-face interviews that are often needed for true scrutiny. It lacks the traditional confrontational framework.

Faithful party, do I think you are muted?

Finally, the party convention is inevitable Greatly affected by COVID And along with that, the ability of party leaders to engage with their supporters. The keynote speech is usually an opportunity to clarify the ideological update strategy. This is a leader’s chance to show that they can continue to lead the party and enjoy their support through the reaction of the audience, such as applause.

Virtual conferencing cuts out how much support the leader actually has, an important measure of the sound of the audience. Without that feedback, the leader continues to speak to the camera, hoping that the audience will accept their argument without knowing if they will. It affects the tone of the voice of their delivery and the overall way of speaking.This is an important issue for Labor leader Keir Starmer, especially he is still Labor party meeting Directly as a leader.

Important reason

The impact of COVID on these rhetorical areas affects the functioning of communication, one of our main democratic norms. Without communication (or rhetoric), there is no meaningful liberal democratic society or scrutiny of our political leaders. This does not imply that our liberal democracy has ceased to work (in fact, the move to the virtual realm is a testament to its strength). But the way PMQ is currently working hampers not only scrutiny, but also the ability of the leader to lead the parliamentary party.

The use of virtual interviews affects the ability of interviews to seek clarification from political leaders, given the changing tones of the environment. And digital party conventions prevent activists from showing support for the party leader through applause. It is important for the party leader to solicit applause from his supporters. That’s because it shows broader voters that they will lead the supporters. Without applause, it is unclear if they have a united party behind them in favor of their leadership or broader agenda.

Needless to say, these situations are unavoidable during the COVID pandemic, as safety is paramount. But in the post-COVID world, it is important that the norms and expectations of political communication be returned to the liberal democratic voice and unpleasant accountability norms for the return of sound involvement between political leaders and voters. is. When it is safe to do so, it is important that the “new normal” resembles the “old normal” in these areas.

Author: Andrew S. Roe-Crines-Lecturer of British Politics, University of Liverpool

How the pandemic changed political communication

SourceHow the pandemic changed political communication

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