How high can Boris’s dead pig bounce?

Don’t focus on the elephant in the room, look at that cat or should I say, pig.

Peppa Pig. She looks like a vacuum, has been broadcast to 118 countries and has made £6bn in revenue if you believe the nonsense by Boris Johnson as he spoke to the esteemed Confederation of British Industry (CBI) leaders last Monday. Some people think this is one of Boris’s usual humorous jokes. In reality, I feel the entire talk was a dead cat strategy aimed at subverting the mass media and its earnest attempt at holding the government to account, all from the mouth of the most powerful man in the country.

I’m a communication skills coach. I listen to how people talk and give them advice on how to communicate better. But today, I’m going to be talking about something a little different, something a tad nefarious, something concerning Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Boris Johnson and the burying of bad news.

SEO is best imagined as a highly skilled librarian summarising millions of websites, trying to bring you the most relevant (and usually recent) results to the top of your preferred search engine whenever you ask for something. The problem is, it’s quite difficult to reach the top of Google if you’re a little person, because very few people are paying attention to what you do or what you say. However, if you’re someone important, say, the Prime Minister, journalists are liable to report upon what you say in their droves creating a mass of new information. Knowing this, it’s quite easy to manipulate these results, bury dead news and change what people see online with an offhand comment here and there. On Monday, I feel Boris did exactly that by trying to bury numerous criticisms of his government and character.

In his usual pre-rehearsed yet seemingly cavalier style Boris talked of galivanting off to Peppa Pig World, a land dedicated to a small children’s cartoon staring a pink pig named Peppa – much to the joy and dismay of his more mature audience. Boris bragged about how Peppa Pig World had “very safe streets”, “discipline in schools” and “a heavy emphasis on mass transit systems”. A place devoid entirely of adult entertainment – a perfect place for Boris. He even got lost there for twenty seconds. It seemed to be all a laugh, but was it?

Was it a coincidence Boris talked about pigs, when import and export of pork via the EU has been crippled since Brexit, resulting in headlines illustrating the plights of UK farmers decrying the Tory government, or that farmers were forced to cull and destroy 20,000 pigs because of a lack of workers in meat-processing plants?

Was it a coincidence Boris said Peppa Pig “had made £6bn in revenue”, when his Conservative government was reported to have made more than £6bn in benefit cuts leaving millions starving and reliant on food banks?

Was it a coincidence Boris talked about Peppa Pig demonstrating “the power of UK creativity”, when our creative artists are saying Conservative policies since Brexit have destroyed their industries and that MP’s have called on Boris to honor his pledge to help English creative talent suffering from post-Brexit visa bans?

Was it a coincidence Boris repeatedly said “forgive me”, when articles were headed with ‘voters won’t forgive Johnson’ due to his passing of an increase in National Insurance when millions were left without income, or how others outlined actions the public can’t be expected to forgive Boris for throughout his political career?

Was it a coincidence Boris talked about “a Pig that looks like a hairdryer”, when he was reported to have said he would ‘fix’ tax issues with Sir James Dyson of the Dyson hairdryer and vacuum fame, or that Boris was reported to have been in private conversations with Dyson over procuring ventilators rather than using official government channels?

Was it a coincidence Boris said that Peppa Pig was “rejected by the BBC”, when Boris was criticised by numerous senior BBC figures for reportedly wanting to interfere with impartiality of the institution, with David Dimbleby saying “Boris Johnson, we know, wants to bring the BBC to heel”?

Was it a coincidence Boris said Peppa Pig “has been broadcast to 180 countries”, when articles demanding Boris explain his 180 degree shift in attitude towards global warming were in his midst?

Was it a coincidence Boris stumbled saying “safer streets”, when he was criticised for suggesting offenders who are performing community service be made into “fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs”, or perhaps he was trying to hide news on the draconian policing bills which make protests practically illegal?

Was it a coincidence Boris stumbled saying “great local schools”, given his handling of announcing lockdown a day after opening schools or his widely criticized failed handling of local education?

Was it a coincidence Boris stumbled saying “fantastic broadband”, when his 2025 fibre broadband manifesto pledge was deemed to be entirely unachievable by MP’s?

Surely not.

To the mass media it seemed Peppa Pig was nothing more than the topic of one of Boris’s usual jokes; the Guardian wrote feature on the beloved character adding to the noise essentially giving Boris what he even wanted.

Some even did a bit research and corrected Boris: Peppa Pig hasn’t been broadcast to 180 countries as he said, but 118 countries, which is quite coincidental given Boris refused to comment if he could live on a paltry sum of £118 a week given to millions reliant on Universal Credit leaving them without heat, food or the ability to feed their children. People have died from that. The British Medical Journal called Conservative austerity policy ‘economic murder‘, but enough about that – what about Peppa?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s undermining journalism. He’s undermining democracy. He’s undermining the voting public. He knows full well millions fail to look beyond the first page of Google and with this tactic of SEO manipulation he’s giving them exactly what he wants them to see. That’s not healthy for democracy, that’s a poison towards something injurious to our country.

Boris may be among the first to use this technique, but he won’t be the first PM to court his career with a pig.

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