Know when you are being diverted. Don’t look at the cat.
What is dead cat politics?
They call it Dead Cat Politics, but in reality it’s more the avoidance of politics. It’s the tactic of absurd, off-topic distraction to control the media agenda and steer it away from tricky subjects.
The Deat Cat Strategy, also known as Deadcatting, is a firm favourite of right wing governments, forming a key part of the fascists’ toolkit. Boris Johnson appears to embrace the tactic like a protective blanket, diverting and distracting journalists with barely a flutter of his dead, soulless eyes.
He said this of the advice he got from an Australian advisor during his London Mayoral Elections:
“There is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’ In other words, they will be talking about the dead cat – the thing you want them to talk about – and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.“Boris Johnson
Look at the agenda of disastrous policy consequences now piling up around the Prime Minister. So many things; trade breakdowns, industries falling, schools in crisis, NHS on its knees, 100,000+ covid deaths, the list goes on. When the heat all gets too much, you can guarantee he’ll pull something random out of the bag – a dead cat – and make everyone talk about that instead. It is usually a vaguely absurd idea, but that’s good, because everyone talks about the absurd idea instead of the problems he can’t answer for.
Did he think we’d forgotten about the lost crime data, or the 350m per week for the NHS, or the lies he told all the fishermen, or the lies he told everyone about the Irish borders? Did he think we’d gloss over his suppression of the Brexit Impact reports?
Well, he’s right. But there’s an immediate risk of the issues resurfacing and/or embarassing him, so it’s time for a deadcat distrction.
It's a sad kind of genius.
An undersea tunnel is the latest diversion
A particlar fan of fantastical architecture ideas, like garden bridges or floating airstrips, he’s chosen for this latest diversion the idea of a tunnel under the Irish sea. He knows the GB/NI border is fucked by Brexit and he can’t resolve it. So he’s going to make us all talk about a dumb idea for a tunnel instead of the reasons why everything is fucked there.
It’s a sad kind of genius, really. Next time my wife gets angry that I haven’t done the dishes, or demands an explanation for why I didn’t put the bins out, I’m going to propose that we construct an elevator to the Moon. She’ll hate the idea, ridicule it, laugh at me, think I’ve gone mad… And forget all about the dirty dishes and the overflowing bins.
Please wake up, everybody.
Please wake up, everybody. Recognise a dead cat when you see one. See the distractions for what they are. Absurdly timed, random proposals and diversions, when they pop up on your news feed, are almost always attempts to control the agenda and stop you thinking about something bad.
Larry is not important!
In a strangely ‘meta’ example, a news story about the Downing Street cat, Larry, hit the news last night; Larry has been at Number 10 for apparently 10 years, and this useless piece of information was perhaps the most literal use of the deadcatting tactic I’ve ever seen. Five minutes of Sky News talking about an actual cat in Downing Street, instead of its fascist housemates and their wrecking ball approach to the country. That is five minutes of pure gold diversion sucessfully achieved by the government. Well done, them.
Around the same time as the Larry The Cat story broke, the following minor news stories also happened, but none recieved the airtime they deserved.
- A third of social care staff still not vaccinated.
- Equalities watchdog urged to investigate Covid response.
- Test and Trace cock-up: Nearly 4,000 Amazon staff given wrong results.
- 450,000 families behind on rent because of Covid.
But don’t think about those things. Think about the cat.
Next time a wierd, odd, or random news story appears, or a strange and fantastical government proposal comes up at the top of your news feed, try scrolling down. They’re diverting you.