Zuck Goes to Washington

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, testified before Congress on the 10th and 11th of April, amid the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was found that more than 87 million Americans’ personal data were sold and misused for advertising purposes.

The five-hour-long sessions, where the members of the Senates’ and the Houses’ Committee grilled Zuckerberg, however, seemed to serve as an excellent opportunity for Senators, Congresswomen and Congressmen for some good ole political PR.

Each Senator had five minutes, Congresswoman and Congressman four minutes, to question Zuckerberg in the widely-broadcasted hearing. Due to the time constraints, no real probing and questioning could take place, so several members used the time available to them to appeal to their constituents and stakeholders instead. And frankly, time wasn’t the only limitation, as many of the questions also revealed the unfortunate fact, that a large number of the politicians don’t quite know how digital platforms work.

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The ‘invest in my constituency

Some members of the Committee brought up a strangely timed request for Zuckerberg and Facebook to support broadband coverage for rural areas in their constituencies – and by some, I mean at least four members.

Senator Capito of West Virginia: “My state, I’m from West Virginia, and thank you for visiting and next time you visit, if you would please bring some fiber because we don’t have connectivity in — in our rural areas like we really need, and Facebook could really help us with that.

Congressman Cramer of North Dakota directly asked Zuckerberg to consider investing in his district “Let me suggest that you look someplace perhaps in the middle of the North American continent for some people, maybe even your next big investment of — of capital could be in — in some place like, say, Bismarck, North Dakota.

The ‘I’m doing all the work

Others took a different approach and spoke about pieces of legislation they have worked on in the past or are working on at the moment to highlight their personal achievements and push their own agenda into the spotlight.

Here’s an example from Congressman Pallone of New Jersey: “Now, Congresswoman Schakowsky from Illinois and I introduced a bill last year that would require companies to implement baseline data security standards. And I plan to work with my colleagues to draft additional legislation.

Another example from Congresswoman Blackburn of Tennessee: “And you’re hearing there’ll be more bills brought out in the next few weeks. But we have had a bill. The BROWSER Act, and I’m certain that you’re familiar with this, is bipartisan.

Followed up by Congressman Lance of New Jersey: “Congresswoman Blackburn has mentioned her legislation. I’m a co-sponsor of the BROWSER legislation. I commend it to your attention, to the attention of your company. It is for the entire ecosystem. It is for ISPs and edge providers. It is not just for one or the other.

Clearly, Zuckerberg did not provide a straight answer to whether he would support any legislation, he avoided the question by answering along these lines: “in general, I think that that principle is exactly right. And I think we should have a — a discussion around how to best apply that”. At times, the viewer might have been confused whether it was a hearing or whether the members of Congress were competing for Zuckerberg’s attention and approval of their piece of legislation.

The ‘publicity stunt

Others took a completely different approach again and went for something that would grant them coverage.

Like Senator Durbin of Illinois, who seemed to be the first person to take Zuckerberg by surprise as he asked “Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? You could just see Zuckerberg’s mind trying so hard to work out what he was getting at before responding with a “No”. And it worked – this became one of the most picked up parts of the hearing.

But Senator Cruz’ (Texas) questioning was, without a doubt, the most memorable of all, as Cruz came hard for Zuckerberg, accusing Facebook of engaging in “a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship”, suggesting that right-leaning users’ content gets censored because of the political bias of Facebook’s staff. Needless to say, Cruz became the Republicans’ hero of the day.

Props also seemed to be a popular tool in attracting some attention. Large printed images (yep, Diamond and Silk), infographics, Congressman Duncan of South Carolina even brought a copy of the Constitution that he gave to Zuckerberg at the end of the hearing – an excellent photo op.

Zuck’s pre-packaged image

Now let’s have a quick look at Facebook’s CEO’s performance. Zuckerberg kept repeating a few obviously rehearsed and carefully drafted statements, which were aimed to reframe Facebook’s image from an international corporation to a dorm room start-up that somehow got too big.SB2

What he said:

“The average American, I think, uses about eight different communication and social network apps to stay connected to people.

What he really said:

We’re not a monopoly.

What he said:

“So, from the beginning of the company in 2004 — I started in my dorm room; it was me and my roommate.

“I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that we’re at now without making some mistakes.

“The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources.

What he really said:

We don’t want to be perceived as a large corporation, even though we are. We want you to think we don’t really know what we’re doing so you can’t blame us for making mistakes.

What he said:

I don’t come to Washington, D.C., too often. I’m going to direct my team to focus on this.

What he really said:

I’m only here because you made me, but that’s all you can expect from me.

What he said:

“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together.

What he really said:

We want you to think that we don’t even care about money – it’s all about the people.

What he said:

I’m not the type of person who thinks that there should be no regulation, especially because the Internet is getting to be so important in people’s lives around the world. But I think the details on this really matter.

What he really said:

We want regulation that won’t really limit us, but will keep up the perception that we are being socially responsible.

Will the Cambridge Analytica scandal really hurt Facebook? We’re yet to see. Everyone expected Zuckerberg to be sweating in the hot seat, but he got away fairly easily. He apologized for making a mistake, played the victim card well, but made no concrete promises or commitments. Zuckerberg vs. Washington, 2:0.

Silvia Bajlova is an MSc Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter and contact her on LinkedIn.

Donald Trump- PR mess or PR genius

It’s been over a year since Donald Trump became the most powerful man in the world and the 45th president of the United States. Do you remember what you were doing that very day and hour he won? I remember I sat up that whole night watching the results come in flicking between CNN and Fox news. I along with all the Hollywood stars though America would vote in Hilary Clinton but gosh weren’t Katy Perry and I wrong. In a year where Brexit won the vote it was silly looking back to think Donald Trump wouldn’t become president.

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Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and even now not an hour goes by without a headline or some sort of uproar about something President Donald Trump has said or tweeted. No time in history has public opinion or the media been as widespread and ongoing since ‘the Donald’ announced he was running for president all those years ago. Half a decade ago Donald Trump wasn’t really a name which people mentioned here in Northern Ireland and I’m sure it wasn’t mentioned much in any other part of the world. Back then all Donald trump was known for was the U.S apprentice (he was no Sir Alan Sugar) and for owning most of New York and Manhattan. Back then I didn’t even follow him on twitter or ever even consider following him on twitter. Nowadays, he is usually one of the most trending hashtags or something related to what he has said or done is trending. Not going to lie, but one of the best decisions I made in 2015 was following Donald Trump on twitter. L5
Donald Trump has definitely rewritten the rules on messaging and communication. From a PR perspective (or well a final year PR students perspective), some would say Trump’s approach or lack of has been a horror show (possibly similar to the shinning) from his incorrect messaging to his attacks on people (remember when he was team Robert Pattinson after his breakup with Kristen Stewart) to now his attacks against the media and their ‘fake news’. It’s fair to say Donald trump has made himself a poster boy for how not to communicate to the public… or has he?

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It’s very easy to see Donald Trump’s tweets or on television and think he doesn’t know anything about communicating or Public relations but maybe just maybe he has rewritten public relations? Stay with me here…

Public relations is the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organisation’s or individuals. Donald Trump doesn’t get much positive interactions, usually people’s public relations strategies is to gain positive interactions and dismiss backlash. However, Donald Trump’s public relations strategy is the exact opposite even now a year later after he has won the white house. Trump’s immediate off the cuff responses to the Middle East, china, the latest SNL skits, fake news or repealing Obamacare is his main strategies.

Some people believe he has thrown away the traditional pillars of talking points, messaging, communicating and replacing them with no-holds-barred dialogue. Donald trump choosing to do this means no matter if you are a democrat or republican or a member of the green party you are giving him visibility.
Trump’s approach is to raise any issue no matter what time of the day it is even if tis 3am in the morning on twitter.

Even though many hate to admit it, this strategy of Donald Trump’s is working and it is working very very well. Throughout his presidency and probably long after he will continue to have control of the topics and issues he wants on the agenda for that day.

This approach to taking over the white house has been to keep the audience tuned in and on the edge of their seats, keeping us all guessing what next will Donald Trump say.

Who would have thought Donald Trump could possibly change Public Relations? But then again suppose we never believed he would actually become president? Who’s ready for Kanye west or Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) presidency race for 2020…. L1

Lena Coyle is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Lena_coyle

Syria: A Bleeding Country

Since 2011, more than 11 million people have been affected by the civil war in Syria and it is now the biggest humanitarian crisis this century has ever seen.

Before civil war broke out in Syria 6 years ago, it was already a country on its knees.  With high unemployment, widespread corruption and state repression under President Bashar al-Assad, it was only a matter of time before an uprising would occur.

It was only in October that two men attacked a police station in the Syrian Capital of Damascus where their double bomb attack killed 17 people.  These people have now been added to the estimated 475,000 already dead.  Attacks like this happen on a daily basis and the death toll rises every hour of every day.  This country is bleeding dead bodies.

Naturally, the effects of this bloodshed, endless fighting and fierce violence have been felt not only within Syria but across Europe.  ‘The Syrian Refugee Crisis’ is an issue surrounding the millions people who have fled Syria since 2011.  This country is also bleeding vulnerable yet hopeful refugees.

But what is your true opinion of ‘The Refugee Crisis’?  Is it a crisis that is being ignored by the public and politicians?  Have people’s opinions been decided or influenced by media and politics?  Is it selfish that some people do not want refugees in our country to live and work?  Or should it be that society unites and strives to help these hopeful refugees?

In September 2015, the image of 3 year old Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body, washed up on a Turkish beach changed the world. It was this one image which impacted public and political opinion so much that it was only then that the West woke to the urgency of the Syrian Refugee Crisis – 4 years after it had begun.

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Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washes up on a beach in Turkey

Public concern was marked by the immense social media campaigns which followed as ‘#RefugeesWelcome’ was used at least 20 million times the following year.

Weeks after this image went viral, the British government announced that 20,000 Syrians would be resettled within the UK by 2020 and so far 6,000 have been.

Recently, I began watching Educating Greater Manchester; a channel 4 documentary which each week focuses on issues and stories that surround everyday school life from teachers, pupils and parents’ points of view.  Cue the ‘terrible teens’, oversized tie knots, untucked school shirts and a whole lot of shouting (not just from teachers).

Episode one delved straight into the adjustments that staff and pupils in school faced due to the large influx of foreign pupils.  It focused on the challenges which the modern, multicultural school faced when Syrian refugees – who often spoke little English, joined the vast array of existing pupils and staff.

For me, Rani’s story made the episode an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish as we saw how he attempted to navigate his way through a new school life in Greater Manchester.  A language barrier saw the 11 year old placed into a remedial class where he had the opportunity to learn English and attempted to make friends.  In this heart-warming class, Rani explained to his new classmates and teachers where he was from and how sometimes he would see people being shot dead on his way to his old school in Syria.

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However, it was the genuinely moving tale of the blossoming friendship between Rani and local lad Jack which captured mine and the nations hearts as they vowed to stay friends for life.  There was a lip-wobbling moment when Rani graduated from his remedial class into mainstream lessons and could sit next to new pal Jack.  Jack explained when he realised Rani was struggling to settle in, “I can see it’s difficult for him because he can’t bond with other people.”  But by the time the hour long episode was over the pair were ‘brothers’ and Rani had made a best friend for life.  Rani explained, “He is not like a friend, I think he is a brother”.

 

Despite the delight I felt for Rani, this episode still highlighted the struggles which another Syrian pupil named Murad met within the multicultural school as he came face to face with ‘Islamophobia’.  Murad confronted hurtful and upsetting comments from his peers who hurled playground insults at him, comparing him to a terrorist and Osama Bin Laden.  This emphasised the huge challenges which refugees are so often subjected to and unfortunately abuse like this is hugely popular inside and outside of school for refugees of every age.

This programme proved that schools in particular are playing a vital role within society to not only help young refugees but also educate the British public about the blight which refugees have faced and the challenges they meet in attempting to make a better life for themselves.  Teachers and pupils alike in this programme are not ignoring the crisis but are instead helping to develop pupils – who have come as refugees, into happy, well-educated, confident young people.  Subsequently, we as the viewing public can take lessons of our own away from Jack and Rani’s friendship as they proved how easy it is to accept others into our society, no matter where they are from, what religion they follow, what colour their skin is or what language they speak.

Lauren Hill is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-hill-a7807a151/

 

JFK’s Bunratty Girls

Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 by the Earl of Thomond. The Earl had a tradition of hospitality, and since 1963 that tradition has been carried on through the many Bunratty Medieval Banquets held every year in the castle. The Banquets have welcomed guests from across the world to dine in medieval style and enjoy the classical Irish music as performed by the Bunratty singers – who have been described as “Ireland’s foremost cultural ambassadors” and the “Riverdance of their day.” But one significant fan of the Bunratty singers was none other than John F. Kennedy himself, President of the United States.

My grandmother, Una Wallace, was a classically trained singer and part of the original group of Bunratty Singers of 1963 whose travels included three tours of the East and West coasts of USA. In the Summer of 1963, they found themselves in the extraordinary position of being on-board an Airforce One helicopter from Shannon to Dublin to sing for US President John F. Kennedy at the American Embassy. Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world and an icon admired by many, and the opportunity of singing for him was an unbelievable experience for eight humble women from all over Ireland.

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The Bunratty Castle singers meeting David Power (left) and Ambassador McCloskey (right)

My grandmother remembers the day to be “absolutely amazing”. Kennedy was so impressed with the performance that he requested for the Bunratty singers to come to the White House to sing. Nanny describes meeting David Power, special aide to Kennedy: “he was a lovely man and he arranged for us to visit Washington to sing at the White House for President Kennedy.” Kennedy asked if the girls would also perform at Shannon Airport before his departure home, which of course they did. “We sang for him again at Shannon and as he was leaving, he turned around and looked at us and said, “there’s my girls” – he was just lovely, really lovely”, my grandmother reminisced.

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President Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and my grandmother, Una (in the green) at Shannon Airport

Unfortunately, before the Bunratty Singers got to visit Washington President Kennedy had been assassinated. They were taken to the White House and met the new President Johnson, but “it was so sad that he [Kennedy] wasn’t there” nanny said, “still, going into the oval office was something special.” My grandmother sat in the President’s chair at his desk in the oval office as she posed for a photograph with the rest of the singers. “The first thing Dave Power said was to take a look at the book on the desk – it was a photograph album of Kennedy’s and we were in it, a picture taken when he visited Ireland. We couldn’t believe it!” she told me, “It was such an honour to have met him, I have always cherished the memories.”

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My grandmother pictured in the President’s chair in the Oval Office, with the Bunratty girls and David Power

In June 1967 Jackie Kennedy, the late President’s wife, and her two children Caroline and John came to Ireland. During their holiday they visited Bunratty Castle and the Bunratty singers where a special banquet was held. “The children curtseyed when they came in, they must have thought this is what you should do!” my grandmother joked. The Bunratty girls performed for Jackie, and when they were finished she requested that they sing ‘Danny Boy’, which was one of the songs they had sang for President Kennedy. Nanny explained, “We wouldn’t have usually sang ‘Danny Boy’ in the castle as it would have been too ‘pop’, but we sang it anyway and I remember singing my heart out thinking that Jackie was thinking about her late husband. But when we had finished and she was walking out past us she spoke to us in her soft whispered voice and said, “that was lovely – Caroline has a pony called Danny Boy!” and I realised I was singing for a flippin’ horse!”

 

Emma McVeigh is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. You can contact her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-mcveigh-611462a4/ or on Twitter @emmamcveigh_

The repeal of Net Neutrality – is America okay?

It’s not exactly new information that since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, America hasn’t really improved as a nation, despite Trump’s presidential campaign slogan ‘make American great again.’ The majority of the decisions he’s made since winning the election has outraged most of the country, like his decision to ban transgender troops, or the travel ban he enforced just one week after his inauguration.

However, the most recent nation-wide dilemma, – the plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections – even has Trump supporters up in arms, probably because this is the first major decision under Trump’s rule that is actually going to affect all of them.

Net neutrality demands that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all web traffic the same, and should enable access to all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking specific products or websites.

Without net neutrality, ISPs will no longer have to treat all internet traffic equally, and will be able to favour certain websites and services over others.

Think of Internet traffic like actual traffic, without net neutrality, ISPs like BT and Verizon can develop literal fast and slow lanes. One certain ISP could have the power to slow down its competitors’ content, or block specific political opinions or beliefs that it disagrees with, and in turn could charge extra fees to the very few content companies that could afford to pay for special treatment, which will degrade everyone else to a slower tier of service. The repeal of net neutrality would destroy the open internet.

On Thursday 14th December 2017, Trump’s Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to approve this controversial plan of repealing net-neutrality.

Of course, no one, other than the FCC know what this repeal of net neutrality actually means for users of the Internet, although some people have made their predictions.

The most likely of outcomes, is that the prices the public pay for their Internet will go up, but variety and diversity of accessible web pages will go down and the largest, most well-known of Internet companies will gain a significant advantage over small, upstart companies. As a consumer, the end of net neutrality means your most-used and favourite websites are going to load a lot more slowly, and some of your favourite content may just go away, because your provider can’t pay the fee. The consumer will no longer be in control, the ISP will start to pick the winners and losers instead of the Internet user themselves.

Andrew Leonard used this example in an online article on rollingstone.com: “Let’s say you’re a regular user of Amazon, eBay and Etsy. Currently, you’ve got all those apps on your phone and laptop and they all work perfectly. The pages load fast, and orders go through right away. But you get your service through Verizon, and now, with no net neutrality, Verizon is capable of saying to all three online retailers: ‘hey, if you want to be in the fast lane of the Internet, you have to pay for our premium package’. Amazon and eBay, the two more established and larger online companies can afford to do this, but Esty, as a smaller upstarter company, unfortunately cannot, meaning Etsy will from now on, be in the slow lane, and the next time you want to search for a “Save Net Neutrality” t-shirt to wear to your next protest, the page takes absolutely forever to load.”

But that’s not all. Under the new rules, ISPs won’t just be free to charge more for faster access, they’ll be completely free to simply block access to whatever part of the Internet they feel serves their financial interest. Comcast, for example, may decide that it makes no sense to allow Netflix to compete with its own streaming service and stop allowing its users access to the site.

Right now, it seems to be the end of the Internet as Americans know it. But a legal effort to overturn the decision made by Trump’s FCC is expected to begin immediately. Congress has the power to pass legislation to restore net neutrality, and this could mean greater turn out in the 2018 midterm elections from millennials who care deeply about this issue. Around 18 states also plan on suing the FCC in order to defend net neutrality protections, including New York, California, North Carolina and Virginia.

Hollie Thomson is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations. She can be found on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holliethomson/ or Facebook: Hollie Thomson

Politics- Out of reach for generation Y?

Generation Y, also known as ‘millennial’s’ are those born between 1982 and 2004. Although the delineation of who the term millennial is referring to varies, Howe and Strauss (2000) are customarily credited with coining the term and they suggest that they are born within these particular dates.

This is the generation that are renowned for having the least amount of interest in politics. Of course there are young people who have a genuine interest and are politically engaged but this doesn’t equate to the mass proportion of political conversation that takes place in the public sphere between older generations. Since public opinion is formed in the public sphere and politics is renowned for not having a major part in generation Y’s public sphere.. how is opinion formed? What is the future for politics?

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A lot of people would argue that the reasoning behind little interest in politics for millennial’s is due to it being unrelatable a lot of the time as manifestos and policies rarely appeal to them, but, is this trend changing? Stats show that in 2015, 1 in 5 millennials had no interest whatsoever in politics but by 2017 this dropped to less than 1 in 10 stating they had no interest in politics. Could this be because of Brexit and the political agenda and personal appeal throughout the process? Many politicians across the globe are adopting mannerisms that make them more relatable to the young. Take Donald Trump; since his presidential campaign, there has been more interest in politics than ever before. Although a large factor for this is almost certainly due to his ludicrous statements and often outlandish behaviour, there has to be something said for his engagement through platforms such as twitter. If he didn’t make his opinions so public and abrupt, people would most likely not take as much of an interest in what was going on in American politics.

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Politics may start to feature in our generations conversation more due to it becoming less of a trivial subject with the likes of celebrities such as Georgia Toffolo claiming their interest in the subject.AA3

 

Politicians have began to make a point of talking about issues that directly affect the young. Topics such as tuition fees, housing, Brexit and immigration are all issues that were discussed and covered at great length throughout recent political events, such as the referendum and the general election. Young people relate to these issues as they directly impact them, whereas in previous years, factors were spoke about that were perhaps unrelatable to millennials.

With generation Y being the first generation to be less successful than our predecessors in terms of earning money, it’s important to get involved in politics and help mould the government that shapes the nation.

Rebecca Reid is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @Rebecca12reid and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/

What do the UK Grime scene and the Labour Party have in common?

“It’s a Corbyn ting” – Stormzy

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Grime; London’s mash up of UK garage and jungle music. Rapid, syncopated breakbeats featuring jagged electronic sounds, with a gritty lyrical depiction of urban life narrating a grungy beat.

But why, in 2017, did Grime have such an impact on politics?

On 18th April 2017, Teresa May called for a snap election, “to make a success of Brexit.” She confidently did so, with the aim (and expectation) of winning a landslide Tory majority. In fact, she wasn’t alone in her thinking. The early polls indicated that the Tories were leading by 25%. The story of how Labour turned the election around is arguably one of the most astonishing political fightbacks in modern campaigning history.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been interested in politics. My parent’s heads would be fried after any long car journey with me in the back seat. I somehow always managed to annoyingly dominate the conversation and turn it into my own, car-sized version of Stephen Nolan. So, naturally, I find myself fixated on every news outlet, political party broadcast and social media channel during election time.

The UK general election in 2015 saw less than half of under 25s casting their vote. In 2017, however, 64% of registered voters aged 18-24 fulfilled their voting duties, with the highest youth share since 67% voted in 1992. And who or what have we got to thank for this? Schools? Colleges? Parents? Westminster? No… Grime.

The relationship between grime and the government has always been a somewhat trepid one. In a 2003 radio interview, former politician, Kim Howells attempted to ‘slew’ (that’s Grime terminology for insult by the way) the grime scene, branding the artists as, “macho boasting idiots.” Grime artists are not known to publicly advocate for political parties or politicians either.  Skepta (one of Grime’s most influential artists) even raps about his mistrust for the Police and politicians alike in his chart-topping hit, “Shutdown”.

“This ain’t a culture, it’s my religion
God knows I don’t wanna go prison
But if a man wanna try me, trust me listen
Me and my G’s ain’t scared of police
We don’t listen to no politician
Everybody on the same mission”
Skepta.

Grime has somewhat originated from the same people and places government legislation has hit the hardest in its austerity measures over the last ten years: dwindling prospects of owning a home, increased job insecurity, zero-hours contracts, bedroom tax and underfunded schools are just some of the many measures that have drastically impacted upon the British working class. When we look at it like that, David Cameron’s “we are all in this together” campaign now seems completely out of touch with Britain’s current reality.

Growing up surrounded by a musical genre so closely aligned with personal struggle, Grime has been dubbed as a soundtrack to many Brit’s lives. The 2017 election allowed (arguably for the first time ever) people to engage with a political figure whose own values directly replicated their lived experience. Jeremy Corbyn’s understanding of working-class issues and racial oppression struck a chord with many. It wasn’t long until the Labour Party’s PR powerhouse capitalised upon this particular appeal and promoted it to the masses.

It began when a number of Grime artists stirred up a conversation about politics. Stormzy was one of the first artists to publically express an interest in Jeremy Corbyn;

“Young Jeremy, my guy. I dig what he says. I saw some sick picture of him from back in the day when he was campaigning about anti-apartheid and I thought: ‘yeah, I like your energy’…That’s why I like Jeremy: I feel like he gets what the ethnic minorities are going through and the homeless and the working class.”

 After that it was rapper AJ Tracy. He liked what Corbyn had to say so much, he made an appearance in a Labour party video. He spoke about rising house prices, how he’s in serious debt because he chose to study criminology at university, how the NHS is “one of the jewels of the UK” and further contributes to 2017’s rise of ‘Corbyn-mania’ by stating, “It’s a Corbyn ting. Not a Tory ting.”

Next up, one of Grime’s originals, JME, met Corbyn for cosy sit down lunch in London.  Snapchat users seeking the latest updates from JC were greeted with something unexpected;

“It’s JME on Jeremy’s Snapchat and I’m here right now to tell you to register to vote!”

A promotional video released just days later, showed the pair discussing council housing, off-putting university debt, poorer communities and why people should vote labour. JME states that he has never voted in any election and Corbyn attempts to explain the difference he could make if he does this time around. The video portrays Corbyn as being someone young people can trust and (as JME puts it) “it feels like (you’re) out for lunch with (your) mum’s friend.’”

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Grime based pro-Corbyn posters were placed around South London, showcasing artists such as Stormzy trying to persuade the ‘mandem’ to vote;

“The Tories hold Croydon by 165 votes (that’s literally it) – even your dad’s got more Facebook friends. Stormzy says vote Labour! ’”

In the final week of campaigning, the Grime4Corbyn movement was born, in which live music events were held in London and Brighton featuring panel discussions about the links between Grime and Corbyn’s politics.  A website was launched and thousands of young people started posting and sharing Grime4Corbyn content across social media.

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As young leaders and self-proclaimed political role models, the Grime4Corbyn movement was far from a gimmick. I highly doubt that in the run up to the election, Labour sat down and came up with the idea to use Grime music as a means of mass communicating to their selected target audience.

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When a number of artists began to tease the idea that they may have an interest in voting ‘Jezza’, Corbyn’s campaign team capitalised upon this to the extreme. A selection of official and unofficial means of political public relations helped to encourage thousands of young people to vote. Corbyn claims that his success came from purely standing up for what he believes in. He didn’t ask for individual popularity and he certainly did not foresee ‘Corbyn-mania’.

Whilst I do believe this to be somewhat true, I think that the content the Grime scene created for Corbyn’s campaign was PR gold dust for the team behind him. Labour used the content that was already being created, targeted the Grime industry and ultimately reached the demographic and culture their manifesto and party policies directly related to.

Whatever you believe, the snap election brought about a real positive change for engaging youth in politics and enforces the power and persuasion of social media in political influence. After all, as Corbyn says, “political change doesn’t always come from a politician, does it?”

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Hannah Martin is a final year Bsc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @HannahMartin596, and Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-martin-b31334112/