Election, what election?


Alastair Campbell has written an interesting article highlighting the lack of political advertising in the UK around the EU elections.  He gives anecdotal evidence of Rome being plastered with posters and leaflets, whilst the only campaign materials he saw from his journey from Heathrow to his house was the ‘vote Labour’ poster in his front window.

Something has to change with regards to how this country funds political communication.

Searchlight, the BNP and Clear Channel


Clear Channel, the UK’s market leader in outdooor advertising, have been attacked for providing media space to the BNP. Searchlight, the anti-racist and anti-fascist organisation based in the UK, have been organising action against the company.

Clear Channel have claimed no wrong doing, stating that their company policy was to “allow legal and legitimate political parties to engage in campaigning and maintain free speech” and that it will accept advertising from such parties without “bias or favour, regardless of the company’s own views.”

The message in above piece of political advertising ‘punish the pigs by voting BNP’ is a classic piece of nationalist populism.  Fascist nationalist parties throughout history have reaped success from public anger over establishment corruption and jingoism; in this respect the EU elections could prove furtile recruiting grounds for the BNP.

The anger and hate that flows from the communication might be attractive to an extremist few, but I image most people – even those deeply disenchanted by the expenses row – will find it alienating and forbidding.

Green Party Broadcast

A classic ‘real people’ broadcast.  It communicates their 2 messages, clearly and simply – 1) vote Green for European investment in our economy 2) Vote Green to help save the planet, for the sake of your kids. 

It starts off quite slowly, but the emotional climax is brilliantly done.  A nice music score and the light, pleasant, unimposing tone of the people featured in the video make it highly likely to evoke the reaction ‘this party understand my concerns’ and ‘this is a political party for me’  from floating middle-class voters who are disenchated with the more established parties.

On the basis of this broadcast, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Green Party do well in Ireland next week.

Labour’s 2nd Party Political Broadcast 2009

The second of The Labour Party’s political broadcasts in advance of the European Parliament elections.  The apology over expenses was a good call, though David Cameron did this earlier in the week.  Looks like a bit of a me-too. Quelle surprise (how continental of me…)

Refering back to the last Conservative government of over 10 years ago as a criticism of David Cameron makes the Labour Party look ridiculous. Just because Cameron is proving hard to pin down on policy, trying to link him with Thatcher and Major is pathetic.

They’ve still included that cringe bit of Gordon Brown on the lawn from the last broadcast, of all the bits to include, why the hell what you stick with that awkward 10 or so seconds?

The main problem with it is the voice over.  It is a truly terrible read, lacking in any charisma or interest and the sound quality is appalling – it just sounds so tinny!

Trevor Beattie on Political Advertising

Never forget repossession

I went to a talk by adland guru Trevor Beattie last night at an event held by Monkey Shoulder Whisky.  He covered everything from space travel, to the new very amusing Walls Sausages work but the main thrust of the speech was overtly political.  Beattie, whilst at TBWA, was in charge of the Labour Party’s advertising during the last 3 general elections (example above) and his work has to be given an, albeit small, share of the credit for the party’s electoral success.

He lambasted the party political broadcasts that have been subjected on the electorate recently and stated that the Labour Party would need to significantly up their communications game if they want to succeed in the upcoming general election.  However, Beattie no longer controls the Labour Party’s communications fortunes, as when Gordon Brown came to power he awarded Saatchi & Saatchi the account.  However, I got the distinct impression that Beattie was itching to get back into the political advertising fold…

Party political broadcasts: Stilted, patronising and hopelessly old-fashioned

party political broadcast 1

I just read a fantastic article by media guru Peter Bazalgette about the need to abolish party political broadcasts.  I couldn’t agree with him with more.  He highlights their extreme unpopularity by quoting figures from the confidential ‘appreciation index’, which measures how much people enjoy a programme – rather than how many watch it.

The most recent round of party political broadcasts have been broadly lamentable.  They can all be tarred with being low budget, lacking in interest, entertainment free and overly long.  Why do we inflict these broadcasts on the nation?

The way in which political parties communicate with the electorate badly need to change and should be part of a route and branch review of how we fund politics in this country.  The recent MPs expenses turmoil, ‘cash for honours’, a lack of quality candidates standing for election and these terrible, terrible party political broadcasts (amongst many other things) all lead back to the thorny issue of how we fund our democracy.