Irony and the Internet

There has been a dispute running for some time now between the Fire Brigade Union and the government over the issue of pensions, culminating in a bit of low-profile strike action but a lot of social media indignation. I am not concerned here with the rights and wrongs of the dispute, in any case.

But the lightning conductor for FBU outrage is Penny Mordaunt, who has it on her list of things to do at the Department for Communities and Local Government.  There was the recent minor flurry over Penny intervening in a general end-of-term adjournment debate in the Commons over poultry husbandry and welfare. That story is not our concern, either. However, I would observe that when we were kids, we believed in our dabbles with the occult that if you recited the Lord’s Prayer backwards, Satan would appear. These days it seems if you say “cock” six times, you summon Paul Dacre instead. Or do you say something else? How do you pronounce “c**k”, as the Mail insists it be rendered? Strange that they objected to this speech, when their Parliamentary  sketch-writer was full of praise for Penny’s Queen’s Speech debate contribution, which was similarly ribald. But that is not the unintentional irony I am dealing with here.

A friend of mine in the north forwarded me a link to a Sheffield United fans’ message board, because she had spotted a petition being got up to “sack Penny Mordaunt” over this FBU row, and wondered if I’d seen it. I had already, because while the Left these days are pretty hopeless at connecting with ordinary voters, drivers of white vans, and Welsh NHS patients, there is a hard core of sparts who are adept at starting hashtags and petitions online. The formula is that you start a petition or a hashtag, get X number of signatures/tweets, and then complain that the BBC or other media (because ALL media are on the right, including The Guardian, Mirror, and Independent, apparently) aren’t reporting this vast internet phenomenon. It’s crap, but it’s what passes for political activism in some people’s minds these days.

Anyway, this was the site I ended up on, the “Blades Mad” message board:

SU1Now, everyone who has ever heard or met Penny will know that there is nobody in Parliament who is less guilty of an excess of self-regard. The speech bit we’ve already debunked, so this is just the standard “sign up on 38 Degrees and convince yourself you’re politically involved and informed”. Only you can’t do that in this case, because he forgot to link to the petition in his post.

I clicked on his profile link on the site to see if he had linked to the petition in another post, and to see if it was the same petition I’d spotted. Entirely by accident couple of posts before the one above, I arrived at this gem instead:

SU2I am not concerned here with the rights or wrongs of the Ched Evans case. The behaviour of a tiny minority of Sheffield United supporters has been outrageous, but let’s be honest, it could have happened at any club he could have played for. The vast majority of fans of any club would condemn Evans and this sort of criticism of Evans’ victim.

However, the sharp-eyed will notice that the same user who doesn’t think it’s right that anyone should petition to get convicted rapist Ched Evans sacked is quite happy to promote a petition to get Penny Mordaunt sacked for saying “cock” six times.

Welcome to the internet, where irony reigns supreme, and hopefully the likes of John Mann never do.





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