Posts Tagged ‘conservative’
So, on the day of the second televised leaders debates what are we to make of the new political landscape? Are we heading for a revolution in the way we see and perceive our political leaders or is it all just smoke and mirrors.
Certainly, there is a real danger that voters could be seen to be concentrating more on the televised debates than the policies of the main parties and we are seeing skewed polling figures as a result.
There is a danger that the polls are simply reflecting people’s reaction to the debates rather than their voting intention, a view reinforced by one poll’s immediate reaction from the debate showing the Lib Dems with a 51% share of the vote - more than enough to confirm Nick Clegg as Prime Minister with a healthy working majority.
These views are not necessarily based on the policies of the Lib Dem Party but how Nick Clegg is perceived by television viewers. The debates only provide time for the briefest of glimpses into the party’s policies - there is no time for any discussion on the the detail behind the policy headlines.
The subsequent reduction in the Lib Dem share of the vote in polls demonstrates that the televised debate certainly had a short term but significant effect in voters’ minds. The impact of the debate and the poll rise for the Lib Dems, even if short lived, has given a boost in momentum for the Lib Dems which may be hard for the other parties to counter.
So, has the televised debate reduced the election campaign to little more than a non-political beauty contest?
It will be up to David Cameron and Gordon Brown to react to the Clegg factor and I am sure that they will be working harder than ever to try to alter the perceptions and work on the lessons learned from the first debate to regain some lost ground.
This may give rise to personalised politics and possibly more negative campaigning, we shall see.
Either way, it is unlikely that the public will be taken in by magic tricks or sleight of hand.
We have also heard from the party leaders that “the people” will decide if there will be a hung Parliament or not.
I’m quite sure that if there was a candidate in every constituency under the name of “hung” or “hung Parliament” then they would have a better than even chance of being elected but let’s be clear, you cannot gerrymander or tactically vote for a hung parliament - it requires an unusual set of circumstances.
The people will certainly decide but they will not go into the polling booths thinking they can vote for a hung Parliament. If we end up with a hung Parliament it would be an associative outcome rather than causality.
Tags: conservative, David Cameron, General Election, Gordon Brown, Government, Hung Parliament, labour, lib-dem, Nick Clegg, Prime Minister, Televised debate
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Labour, the Lib-Dems and now the SNP all have at least one thing in common, they all seem to have the Tories directly in their crosshairs as the Tories seem to be under the most scrutiny and attack so far in the election campaign.
Of course none of this is a shock, it is only natural for the parties to have a go at each other, but what is striking about the attacks on the Tories is that it would normally be reserved for an incumbent Government, rather than the Opposition. The Tories are obviously the bookies favourite to win the most seats, at the very least the largest number in a Hung Parliament, so they are seen as the biggest threat by all of the parties.
Labour is obviously going after the Tories on everything as their prime competition. The Lib-Dems are trying to impress themselves onto voters as the eligible kingmakers whilst protecting their own seats which is evidenced most recently by Nick Clegg launching a “VAT Bombshell” poster campaign focusing on the Tory tax scheme. Alex Salmond is also trying to scare voters away from voting Tory in Scotland by running with a line that the Tories will go on a “smash-and-grab” spree by reviewing £1billion worth of funding to Scotland.
The latest Lib-Dem attack on the Conservative tax strategy
Of all of the parties, this probably benefits Labour the most as a lot of the “attack-dog” work they would normally have to do is being done by the smaller parties on a far more targeted level than the Labour election war chest would normally allow. The Tories therefore have to spend more time defending their policies and ideas on a national scale as well as batting away attacks on a more geographically targeted scale. Labour, while still needing to point out their perceived flaws in Conservative policy has more of an opportunity to sell in their policies.
Whether this will make a huge difference on Election Day, we will only know on May 7 but what is sure is the Tories would like more scrutiny on Labour, rather than being almost constantly defending their own policies and agenda. Labour would therefore be enjoying the underdog status and it is well known this is a position where Brown feels very comfortable.
Cross posted with my personal blog.
Tags: campaiging, conservative, election 2010, labour, Liberal Democrats, Tax
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The main points of the Budget as announced are as follows:
- The economy is expected to grow between at 1 and 1.5% in 2010
- Growth forecast for 2011 revised to between 3% and 3.5%
- VAT, income tax or National Insurance to remain at present rates
- Borrowing will be £167bn this year - £11bn lower than the forecast of £178b
- Debt will be £100bn lower by 2013/14 than predicted at last year’s Budget
- One third of civil service jobs to be located away from London
- Stamp Duty threshold will be raised to £250,000 - nine out of ten first-time buyers will not be liable for Stamp Duty
- Stamp Duty on homes worth £1m increased to 5%
- The planned 3p increase in fuel duty will be phased - up by 1p in April, 1p in October and 1p in January 2011
- Alcohol duty will rise by 2% above inflation by 2013
- Duty on cider will go up by 10% above inflation from Sunday
- Duty on tobacco will increase by 1% above inflation immediately, then 2% in subsequent years
- Inheritance tax will be frozen for four years
- Tax agreements extended to three additional countries - Dominica, Grenada and Belize, to target tax evasion
- The Government will consider scrapping the compulsory retirement age
- Pensioners’ higher winter fuel payment will continue next yea
- Everyone in the UK is to be guaranteed access to a bank account
- The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds will lend £94bn to business - at least half to small and medium-sized firms.
- The Government will set up a Green Bank controlling £2bn of equity to focus on investing in greener, cleaner energy and transport
- Business rates will be cut for a year from October bringing a tax reduction for 500,000 small firms in England
- £2.5bn support for small business to boost skills and innovation
- Investment allowance for small firms doubled to £100,000
- £385m will be invested to maintain road network
- Families with one and two-year-olds will receive an extra £4 a week in child tax credits
More reaction to follow.
Tags: alistair darling, Borrowing, Budget, Chancellor, conservative, David Cameron, Deficit, Duty, General Election, Gordon Brown, labour, Repayment, Tax
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A foreign client asked us recently:
“We have been hearing so much about the UK General Election recently, could you clarify what is going on.”
Oh dear, we all groaned:
“The Conservatives were bound to win” he continues “and then their poll lead shrinks and then they are looking good again and then it’s definitely a Labour victory. Now we hear Hung Parliament. Each day there is a new story: What is going on?”
This is probably the most challenging question public affairs execs face at the moment. I dread it because everyone has a different opinion based on a poll they have read, which assures them of a certain scenario.
This is being fuelled by newspapers and political blogs publishing a huge volume of headline opinion poll figures, which seem to directly contradict each other.
But I actually do not agree that the picture is so cloudy. I actually think that the emerging polls are, in many ways, relatively consistent, but there are factors that are clouding the picture.
So at the risk of developing an eggy face below I explain what I think will happen at the General Election and what is clouding the picture:
1. The ignored indicators - When you dig below the surface of tabloid headlines to less interesting polling numbers, a consistent picture of the General Election emerges:
a. The Labour Party has lost a great deal of the voters who voted for them in 2005; the Conservative Party have retained most of their supporters
b. National polls have shown that since 2006 the percentage of people who want a change of Government has stayed broadly the same - 70%
c. Polls and indicators from key marginal seats, which if won would ensure a good election result for the Conservative Party do not tally with the fluctuations recorded at national level. From my experiences the situation is far more consistent and is positive for David Cameron.
So why do we ignore these numbers:
2. The Role of Newspapers - Each national newspaper realises that in Election season new polling figures create a great headline. The Sunday Times carried the story of the Conservative lead shrinking to 2 points and immediately had a hook that ensured their newspaper was picked up by inquisitive voters. Yet, these headline poll numbers are taken out of context. We rarely read the scale of the survey; the immediate context or the questions that people are asked. We just see the headline figure and absorb it into our consciousness, thinking it is definitive when it is not. Unless you realise the situation the poll was created in how can you tell what it means?
Weighing these factors up I believe that the Conservative Party are on to win the General Election with a majority. I do believe that the hype of the election campaign means people are fluctuating in their opinion of the national parties and their leaders when asked in national polls.
But I think that this ignores the fact that on Election Day people will be forced to choose who they want to represent them in their constituency and the signs suggest that they will vote for a change. Whether they will vote for the reformed Conservative Party is an important issue, but I think in order to facilitate a change of Government floating voters will be prepared to vote for the Conservative Party. I think people do want to get rid of Gordon Brown and want a new Government.
I could be proved wrong, but I agree with a politician who told me recently that: “when the British people decide they want a change, they normally make sure it happens”. This is what the polls suggest and this is my prediction.
Tags: conservative, David Cameron, General Election, Gordon Brown, labour, polls, sunday times
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On the 4th of January The Conservative Party launched their election campaign by releasing this new 15-ft wide poster, which is erected on 759 sites across the country. Already it has been one of the talking points of the election campaign and like marmite, people either love or hate it. So, I wanted to have a look at the key features that are drawing attention:
The face: The Conservative Party have conceded that the face has had ‘minor’ airbrushing. Left-wing critics have drawn attention to this saying it shows his preoccupation with style, whilst the Conservatives say the picture was chosen partly by Samantha Cameron as it was serious-looking.
The clothes: Cameron is shown without a tie, which has become a common feature of his leadership. Apparently this was developed by Steve Hilton, his PR guru, to show that he is both in touch and ready for business. Advertisers have said that this image gives off a strong message of his willingness to get on with the job of Prime Minister.
The text: The use of the term ‘I’ in the second sentence has been used to emphasise Cameron’s popularity over Gordon Brown, advertisers suggest. Combined with the photo it emphasises him rather than the party as the selling point to the voters. It is reported that Conservative polling suggests this is one of Cameron’s big pluses. Critics have parodied the big brother nature of the poster and said it shows Cameron is a modern element in an old-fashioned party.
The message: The message, highlighting the NHS, has been used to counter the Labour attempts to define themselves as a party of investment. It is also highlighting one of the cores of the Conservative election strategy - the size of the budget deficit.
Some people have highlighted the use of the term ‘cut’ in the same sentence as the NHS may impact negatively. The terms could be associated and seem too negative.
Reaction to the poster
Labour party figures immediately attacked the poster because it was airbrushed. John Prescott went on the attack parodying David Cameron and the Daily Mirror also criticised the poster.
But other advertising figures have said it sends a strong message and plays to his key strengths. Commentators also say that it shows the speedier start to the election campaign on behalf of the Conservative Party. This could reflect the greater funds reported to be at the Conservative leaders’ disposal.
So, bearing that all in mind, what do you think? Hit, Miss, Maybe?
For me it is a HIT - simple, effective and to the point. But I know others will think differently.
Tags: conservative, daily mirror, David Cameron, election, labour
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The Internet has been changing every facet of modern life, even the mother of parliaments (at least to a certain extent anyway). An exact state of affairs at parliament would be tricky to gauge, as innovation seems to be happening in different places.
Examples include the recent guide to Twitter, published by Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which outlined how the micro-blogging service could be used to share policy information and engage the general public around issues of interest.
The main political parties have shown enthusiasm in adopting social media as well, although this hasn’t necessarily translated across to their respective Parliamentary Members where there is the more familiar range of adoption patterns from early adopters to laggards to complete technophobes. Pretty much every Member of Parliament and election candidate not contesting a safe seat has a web presence of some sort, whether that is through a party backed website, or through extensive social media branding. Most of these are run through constituency or Westminster offices however, there are few MPs who are leading the way in the digital space.
Amongst the social media front-runners are:
Apart from the lack of uptake of social media tools across the Parliament as a whole, the biggest area where there seems to be a lack of understanding about social media is that it is a conversation. Although Twitter lends itself nicely to sound bites there doesn’t seem to be that much political engagement going on. There also doesn’t seem to be that much awareness about the impact of what they can be talking about. For instance, one MP recently complained about the workload required to deal with constituents. In another case, an automatic news feed on Peter Hain’s Facebook page prominently displayed an embarrassing piece of coverage.
Peter Hain's Facebook Feed
Despite the high profile digital campaign of Barack Obama, the US generally isn’t anywhere near the level of near universal digital and social media adoption that one would expect. For example only 29.5 per cent of US Congress members and Senators are on Twitter – 123 House members and 35 Senators out of a possible total of 535. .
But the fact is, the next election is going to be a hard fought campaign and this is likely to have a transformative effect on digital politics as a new generation of politicians come through.
So where is the opportunity in digital for parliamentary and public affairs campaigns?
The most obvious use of social media is for campaigning as it is easy to demonstrate support for a cause, through re-tweets or number of members in a Facebook group. Social media both facilitates and reveals groundswells of popular support. Nixon’s famous silent majority, are no longer silent or invisible to politicians.
For electoral candidates, Obama’s secret was always to tweet asks and Calls-to-Action and this should be harnessed by MPs or PPCs. There is no particular need for an MP to tweet about what they are having for breakfast, although the ‘inane’ tweets do personalise the tweeter so they can be beneficial.
But the key is, actively engage and converse with users online by asking supporters, party members and voters to do something. Come to my rally, get one friend to help deliver leaflets, donate £5 to the party, come knock on doors with me. Tweets like these that actively call for support and include the public are far more likely to help the candidate get elected.
This method of personalised engagement and Calls-to-Action can also be harnessed for out and out public affairs campaigns. It isn’t something that will transfer well to asking for support for a bank’s or defence company’s campaign, because the public will always be wary of sinister motives. But it will transfer brilliantly to campaigns surrounding NGOs, charities, patient groups, green and sustainability projects, local engagement and welfare organisations due to the need to rally support through calls-to-action.
A second and underrated factor is providing content for researchers. Like the rest of the UK, parliamentary researchers will often hit Google as their first point of call when finding out about a new subject and developing a point-of-view for their MP. Providing the freshest, most relevant content around a particular area, particularly if it has an industry rather than a specific corporate slant is one of the best ways to influence from a digital point-of-view.
There has been an increasing level of political social media analysis in the recent months. Tweetminister essentially aggregates tweets by Members of Parliament, as well as blogs on interesting issues surrounding communication and an open Parliament while the Hansard Society has recently published a report into the use of Facebook by MPs.
We would love to hear your views on the matter, so please feel free to leave comments.
Cross posted with my personal blog
Tags: conservative, Facebook, hain, harris, labour, mccarthy, politics, redwood, swinson, Twitter, watson
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There has been a fantastic response to our survey Why there are less Conservative tweeters than Labour and Lib Dems? With MPs, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, political activists, PR professionals and many more telling us they have filled in the survey, we are building up a great bank of responses to answer this conundrum. The party political range has also been fantastic with Conservative, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP supporters tweeting the survey and passing it on to their colleagues.
BUT, we would love even more responses.
We are going to keep the survey up for a little longer and keep pushing it on Twitter, so please join in and help us get the broadest possible snapshot of how people view MPs’ contribution to Twitter.
Please forward it on to friends, family and colleagues and even your local MP so that we can have truly representative results and get the fullest answer to the question: Why are there less Conservative tweeters than Labour and Lib Dems?
Tags: conservative, Green Party, labour, Lib Dems, MPs, PPCs, survey, Twitter, UKIP
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Here is the survey we are conducting on why there are proportionally more Labour and Lib Dem tweeters than Conservatives.
Fill it in and have your say so that we can get to the bottom of this conundrum…
Tags: conservative, labour, Twitter
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It would seem that the Brown Government has taken up President Obama’s online campaigning baton. Numerous Labour and Labour surrogate sites seem to have been popping up out of nowhere.
Labour List is apparently a place “where Labour minded people come together”. It has been around for a few weeks and is currently a beta, although it is updated at an extremely high-frequency. It’s due to be formally launched on the 12th of February.
It was founded, according to the About Us section, by New Labour identity, Derek Draper and numerous Labour characters such as Liam Byrne, Andy Reed, Hazel Blears, Keith Vaz, Ken Livingston, Ed Miliband to name but a fwe. The actual list of contributors is huge and even Ken Clarke makes an appearance as a blogger, albeit Ken Clarke the Regional Director for the London Labour Party, not the other one.
GoFourth is John Prescott’s site which aims to propel Labour to a fourth term, hence GoFourth. The site’s USP include blogs and vlogs from the former Deputy PM himself. It was initially dreamt up in 2008 (although Prescott didn’t start posting until late January 2009) by some well-known Labour names; John Prescott, Glenys Kinnock, Richard Caborn and Alastair Campbell and aims to “create a broad grassroots movement to secure a progressive Fourth Labour Term.” Prescott also explains he once bought Tony Blair a singing fish to cheer him up.
Alistair Campbell has also launched his own site suitably called, Alistair Campbell.org. Alistair is in the unique position of not being in the Government, but is still as feared by most Tories as much as any other Labour head kicker, so his vlogs will be interesting to watch. After posting his first blog only four days ago, he intends to;
…use this site to bring together the various things I do - writing, speaking, strategising, campaigning, whether for Labour or charitable causes close to my heart. I will blog when I feel like it, vlog at least once a week, give Dave Cameron the odd whack, and hopefully engage in a bit of lively debate. Tories welcome. Some of them anyway, if only to be told where they’re going wrong.
I’m looking forward to it.
On Alistair’s links page, there is yet another Labour site, CampaignTV, which claims to be the home of progressive politics on the web. This site is video after video of pro-Labour and anti-Tory imagery. It even rekindles footage of John Major from old Spitting Image episodes.
All this of course comes after the Number 10 website upgrade midway last year to include a number of social media additions including twitter feeds, flickr and facebook posts and so on.
We already knew that Labour has a crack team already in place to win over the voters occupying the digital space, but they are certainly trying to get their message out to as many people as possible by as many people as possible. But could all these voices effectively be drowning each other out?
If anyone can think of any huge leaps the Conservatives have made into the digital world, apart from the odd tweets from the Conservative Party, please let me know, but otherwise I think they are being left seriously behind by Labour in this department.
Tags: alistair campbell, Brown, campaigntv, conservative, election, election strategy, gofourth, Gordon Brown, john prescott, labour, labour list, number 10, online campaigning
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