Labour Party Political Broadcast 2009

The take-away message of ‘you can’t cut your way out of a recession, you have to grow your way out’ was completely muddled by the sheer amount of stock-looking footage (the most often repeated and worst sin of party political broadcasts) and policy name-checks.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that it was all meant to show “Labour acting, where the Tories wouldn’t” but that message is too complicated and didn’t cut through.

The best bits – Showing Gordon hard at work, late into the night in a ‘behind the scenes’ style. Coverage of Gordon’s speech to Congress.

The worst bits – When it cut to Gordon in the garden and from a standing start he begins to walk for no apparent reason. Cringe.  The bit where Gordon takes two steps towards Obama to shake his hand and stands awkwardly close to him, Obama offers only a lean.  Double cringe.

Those two ‘worst bits’ may seem completely trivial, but it’s those tiny bits of awkwardness that turn people off Gordon.  As Thaler and Sunstein masterfully point out in Nudge:

“A candidate who makes a bad first impression, or who tries to win votes by complex arguments and statistical demonstrations, may well run into trouble.”

In this party political broadcast Gordon makes a couple of really bad impressions and rounds it off with some relatively complex arguments and policy demonstrations.  Not good.


  1. Videos like this really hit home to me how absurd the regulations on televised political advertising in Britain are. Not only are PPBs time-constrained, they are time-mandated: meaning they have a *minimum* duration, as well as a maximum duration. And I think that 3mins 10 seconds is pretty close to the minimum.

    This message could easily have been whittled down to 30 seconds, and it would have been far more effective as a result.

    We probably would have had to endure less of that stop-motion stock footage of London, too (all of it available on – I think the Labour Party has a subscription or something…).

  2. But NB stock footage can very occasionally be put to good use (CF: the CatholicVote “Life, Consider The Potential” ad from earlier this year). Stock footage of a mammogram.

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