Browse Category: Political campaigning

Will Social Media Win the Scottish Referendum?

IndyCampaign Social MediaWill social media win the Scottish referendum? Facebook says that there have been over 10 million comments, posts, likes and shares about Scottish independence in the month of August. The Yes campaign has nearly 300,000 Facebook likes and nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter. In comparison the No campaign is trailing behind with over 200,000 Facebook likes and only 40,000 followers on Twitter.

But how far do these figures go to predict the outcome of the referendum? Does chatter on social media encourage people to head to the polling station? Do Twitter followers and Facebook likes mean votes? How many are voters and how many are Brits without a vote or media?

The independence campaign is unique in the way that 16 and 17 year olds are able to vote. This age group is more receptive to social media activity than their elders. Young people are less swayed by politicians making grand speeches on the 10 o clock news – they are influenced by being appealed to through digestible information, easily accessible through social media. Is social media a silver bullet for middle-aged politicos like Alistair Darling or Alex Salmond who have to court these young voters and persuade them to come out and vote?

But will social media win the Scottish referendum when it comes down to it?

In the final week of the campaign the SNP announced that they would be targeting pensioners through the post. In the most important week of the campaign it is clear where the SNP believe that the campaign comes down to – not the tech-savvy youth but the reliable elderly who can be counted on to get out and vote.

Unlike most campaigns, in this campaign social media is not needed to encourage people to go to the polling station because a staggering 97 per cent of Scottish adults have already registered to vote. Nor is social media being used to keep the issue relevant and in the news – the traditional media have no choice but to cover it.

But it is possible that social media is being used by each side to have a slight advantage over the other. In a campaign as close as this one, both sides need any advantage they can get. Social media may just be enough to push one side above the other.


Image courtesy of creativedoxfoto /



5 Best Political Campaign Ads

A previous post “5 Worst Political Campaign Ads” highlighted (some of) the worst political campaign ads American politics had to offer. But do not think that I am a negative and cynical spectator of the US political sport. For every whacky or ridiculous campaign ad there are dozens of dull and uninteresting ones. (it is just more fun being mean about the rubbish ones!)

I am also a massive fan of House of Cards (UK and US) and love the directness of some political US adverts. If only we could spend money like that in the UK!!! Amongst the pile of trivial, boring or downright awful campaign ads across the years there are some that really stand out.

These are the campaign ads which leave an impression after you watch them. Impact they call it. The ones where you actually process what has just been said, rather than simply scoff or laugh at what you have seen. Some of them even have calls to action that may have even worked!

Good political campaign ads have to be clear, concise and most importantly, above all, they have to make you get out and vote for the candidate or party. An advert may be the most interesting, artistic, amusing or thought-provoking advert of all time, but if it does trigger the viewer to action, to get out and vote for the candidate, then it is a failure. I am sure that some of the Artistic Award winning commercial adverts don’t sell a single extra unit!

I don’t necessarily agree with any of these ads – so I am NOT endorsing any of the content – just the effectiveness of the ad. I had some people send me some very useful suggestions. Some of your suggestions either were already on the list or made the list because of you. I excluded one particularly nasty, negative yet effective suggestion which had racist undertones and has no place in politics or on my blog.


    1. Richard Nixon

This advert ticks all of the boxes on the good campaign advert checklist. It is emotive, promises change, explains policy, and ends strong. “This time vote like your whole world depended on it” is a great line, it emphasises the importance of the election and the importance of voting for Nixon.

    1. George H. W. Bush

This advert perfectly sums up the tone of the campaign. Bush was the candidate for law and order and conservative values. “America can’t afford that risk” is another great line.

    1. Lyndon Johnson

This political campaign ad is one out of the history books. It was aired just once before it was deemed inappropriate for American viewers. But it was too late – the image of the mushroom cloud billowing up into the air was engrained into the minds of the voters. Some call this advert overly violent or exaggerative. But the effect is undeniable.

    1. Ronald Reagan

This advert has the message spot on. So often in political campaigning the incumbent person or party fails to present a compelling ‘re-elect me, don’t change course’ message. It often comes out negative or too bogged down in statistics and data. This advert is the polar opposite. It shows how well the country is doing, who’s responsible for it doing so well, and asks why anyone would want to change course. The advert explains that this is only the beginning of a brighter future – “it’s morning again in America”, so why would anyone vote differently?

    1. Barack Obama

This advert sums up everything wrong with Mitt Romney in 30 seconds. It shows that Romney is too rich, too uncaring, and too out of touch to become President. “Mitt Romney’s not the solution. He’s the problem” gives a blunt smack to Romney’s campaign theme of being a businessman. Attack ads are seen by many as too personal, dirty and unpleasant, but they resonate and leave the audience with the message in their heads. This one is even more effective because the accusations have ‘independent’ sources (newspapers and magazines) speaking rather than Obama’s team.

Just like the worst political campaign ad post, this list is not exhaustive or in any particular order. This is merely a selection of great political advertisements which stand out above the rest.

Reshuffles are like political porn for Westminster geeks

So, after 4 years largely without change, the reshuffle finally happened. Reshuffles are like political porn for Westminster geeks – everything stops because no-one knows what tomorrow looks like. It is also bit like an awards ceremony for politicos like me. Who wins and who loses? Who is up and who is down? Are the people you know promoted, demoted or – worst cut of all –  ignored or overlooked? Should you take it personally, tweet about it, vent on Facebook?

ID-100236393 (1)Then the endless navel-gazing analysis comes – has George Osborne won or David Cameron? Is that even the correct premise for a question? Was it a win for women, or for traditionalists, or for Right or Left, or for Modernisers or Traditionalists or just a lurch to the right – with Labour not sure what to call it and then deciding on ‘massacre of the moderates’ amongst other things… And so the column inches of commentators will go on and on…

For so many staff and MP it is about their futures, their jobs and their CVs – especially for the Minister-dependent SPADS who lose their whole jobs and salary while their MP bosses only lose salary and their Ministerial title. (Good luck to all those SPADS who lost their jobs today!)

Behind all the intoxicating excitement of this political porn for Westminster geeks, is the reality that, thankfully for the UK and The Conservative Party, David Cameron was spoilt for choice. He had a large number of high calibre Conservative MPs to choose from and few positions to place them in because of the Coalition. Of course, there were some surprise appointments, but they were not compulsory because of the choice available – DC must have had a thought process behind each appointment rather than a resigned – “Well, who else is there?” moment. Or one would hope so at least!

I know many of those who have won, lost or been overlooked today. Whether they are friends or clients, winners or losers – their lives have changed today – soared or dived. Salaries have gone up or down. Jobs and responsibilities have changed dramatically. For reasons of client discretion and party loyalty I won’t go into the individual promotions that I jumped up and down about, the changes I dropped my jaw or shook my head at or the quality people that were disappointingly overlooked. But I am delighted that David Cameron had so many good people with good intentions to choose from – and that I had a small role in helping some of those people get selected and then elected. Most, if not all, came into parliament with good intentions, most will work exceptionally hard and some will actually achieve success for themselves and change for our country. Individually and collectively they are far, far ahead of most of their counterparts in the Labour Party.

Here is the full list from the official UK Government website.

which words to use

Merton Conservatives Campaign Video

A great campaign video from Merton Conservatives outlining their manifesto pledges and entitled: “Unlocking Merton’s Potential 2014”

It is fun, snappy, tangible and specific. It speaks about real issues and uses short words – like normal people do. I like it.

You can visit their website here.

What makes a Political Legacy

I drove to a friend’s funeral in the Midlands yesterday. I have been to a lot of funerals in my life – this was my first to a Labour politician’s funeral. On the way I got a premonition of the size of Lord Bilston’s funeral when I saw the street signs on the dual carriageway to Bilston. The town where he was born, the constituency he represented and the name he carried in the House of Lords. Bilston.

LordBilstonDennis Turner aka Lord Bilston was a Labour Party trade unionist, councillor, MP and Peer who I met and worked with on the NO2AV referendum campaign. The word plotting is overused but he, Lord Bruce Grocott and George Howarth MP and I plotted, schemed and worked together for a solid month – the result being the extraordinary alliance between the Conservative and Labour Parties to defeat the Lib Dems and their proposed Alternative Vote. Without the input of these three men we would never have got Labour’s big beasts (John Prescott, John Reid, Margaret Becket, David Blunkett and Charlie Falconer) on board.

But,  intense and busy as it was, working with these tribal political opponents was great fun. Bruce told me yesterday that he had enjoyed that campaign more than any other and Dennis certainly took great delight in reminiscing about the campaign whenever we saw each other in Strangers Bar. Bruce, George and I were together again yesterday to bury a friend.

The church was packed and the service was long. 1 hour and 20 minutes long. There was standing room only at the back and people waiting patiently outside for the whole 80 minutes. Luckily the sun shone. These were not political people – not duty attendees. We estimated that there were 750-800 people there. It was, inevitably for a man with over 40 years of public service, a political funeral – with some political speeches, a number of Peers, former Cabinet Ministers and Labour MPs attending and therefore missing PMQs. The coffin bearers wore red ties. But – all the speeches were real and personal and I bet they were all written by the people giving them. They were raw – as funeral speeches should be. One of the best stories was how teenage chorister Dennis had led a strike of the choir – timed on a Saturday just before 3 weddings were due to take place.

Two of the speakers mentioned the fact that walking through Bilston with Dennis took ages. Both explained that he literally knew everyone, their names, their kids names and even their dogs names – a plus for a dog lover like me.  But the line that really got me yesterday was “Dennis was one of us”.

Much is made in both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party of candidates being “parachuted” into seats and how this doesn’t go down well with the voters. Research has shown that an ACTIVE candidate can negate an incumbent’s advantage if selected over 2 years before an election and I have candidates like that right now. Much is also made of how Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 81-19 on the question “Does he understand/get people like me?” But what a great line that “Dennis was one of us” is. What an epitaph. What a summary.

Politics is important business and we need good and competent people in politics. They can’t all come from within their own communities. Or could they? Maybe if they did we would have more politicians getting over 700 local people, non-duty attendees, coming to their funeral. Funeral attendance is clearly not the only test of a political legacy or a sign of whether a politician made an impact on people, in legislation etc – but it is a human one. And politics is at its best when it’s about people.

Picture from

As this article makes clear – I wasn’t the only Conservative there.

Should 12 Years a Slave win an Oscar?

Some stories are too important to go untold.

Tonight is the 86th presentation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards, more commonly known as The Oscars.

12 Years a Slave ( has been nominated for 9 Oscars. I watched the film with a friend. The film upset us both – not just for its gruesome content and what it said – but also for what it didn’t say. So we have tried to describe what we feel about the film and about what was left unsaid. We have written individually and Meredith’s post is first, mine follows.

The biggest mistake one could make when watching 12 Years a Slave is to assume it is set in the past.

The overwhelming sense I got as the end credits rolled in 12 Years a Slave was relief, relief that it was over. Over. Not slavery, but the film itself.

Steve McQueen’s latest release from the director’s chair is a attack on audiences sense of squeamishness in the graphic nature of some of the scenes depicted, but crucially also on their humanity over the brutality on display.

Set in 1841 it tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free black American, kidnapped and sold into slavery, and how over the course of 12 years, though a constant physical and mental abuse at the hands of his captors, gradually abandons all hope of freedom and whose spirit is finally broken.

The film conjured in me intense feelings of anger, sadness and shame. A phrase I used to describe my feelings afterwards is that “it made me a shamed to be human” – to be even classed in the same category of being as the ‘slavers’ in the film.

However it would be too easy to classify the captors and brutes in this film as ‘inhuman’, ‘not us’, ‘other’; and in so doing side-step the guilt and responsibility that should come with this association. Sadly this behaviour, hatred, and tendency to do evil is all too common in the  makeup of the human condition.

And the uncomfortable truth is that a lot of the scenes and crimes displayed in 12 Years a Slave still occur in the world today. Slavery has not been defeated.

Although the film opens in ‘1841’,  the biggest mistake one could make when watching 12 Years a Slave is to assume it is set in the past.

Modern day slavery, aka Human Trafficking, is still alive in the world today. In your country. In your city. And what is compelling were the direct comparisons with elements of the modern day slave trade. Not similes or allusions but one-to-one correlations  that show that slavery is continuing today in just the same manner as it did for Solomon and hundreds of thousands of other’s in the 19th century.

I worked previously for Avon and Somerset Police, as an intelligence analyst, were I focused on Human Trafficking research. I had direct insight into the state of modern day slavery in Britain today. I have read the case files, read the names of the victims, seen their pictures. It scared me. It has haunted me. It does mean however that I can say with confidence that many of the methods used by the slavers in 12 Years a Slave are just as those used by traffickers and human Labour exploiters today. And the harm is just as great.

In the film Solomon is hoodwinked into traveling with a band of musicians who promise him fame and good wages; much as today’s hopeful victims are promised stable, legal, work abroad. He is ‘made’ drunk, drugged and kidnapped by his new friends –  just as Bradford street children are groomed by abusers. His ‘free-papers’ are taken from him; just as today’s trafficked sex workers have their passports withheld. Transported in cramped wagons or boats; or shipping containers and mini busses, is there really any difference? He is taught to fear all authority, and that the law is against him, removing the will to seek help; just as todays slaves are scared of police and charities’ efforts to help them. And whilst opportunities for physical escape are presented to Solomon every day, he dare not take them for fear of capture, beating, torture, or worse; just like the children in cannabis factory at the end of your road.

It would take only a very small step in imagination, to take the plot of 12 Years a Slave and re-set it in any town or city in the UK in 2014. This film should rightly open many eyes to the horrors of slavery. But do not draw any comfort from thinking it is a documentary into the bad-old-days, and that we live in freer times. Slavery is still with us, we have not defeated it, so we must.

Meredith Lloyd

Meredith is a Conservative political researcher and activist living in London, who previously worked as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst, for Avon and Somerset Constabulary. 


12 Years a Slave should NOT win best film at the Oscars.

12 Years a Slave is memorable for its brutality, flawed in its message, held together by the phenomenal acting of one man and ignores the plight of present day slaves.

Worst of all – it is deceptive in its (hopefully) unintended message that slavery is a detail of history.

Like Satan’s greatest deceit that he doesn’t exist – anything that doesn’t make people aware that according to the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2012) 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour globally, of which 1.5 million are to be found in the developed economies and European Union only.

There are more people in slavery today than in the entire 350 year history of the transatlantic slave trade. 

12 Years a Slave is raw and apparently “experiential”, according to the Director Steve McQueen in an interview on Radio 4 last week, rather than linear or chronological. It jumps about in time which is confusing and disorientating although to be fair I am one of those weird people who prefers to watch a film “cold” rather than reading its online synopsis first.

12 Years a Slave is an ugly film which is unpleasant to watch but you wouldn’t expect anything less from a film on this topic. It was not a nice evening out. I watched it with, and at the instigation of, a friend who is also interested in the fight against Human trafficking and who has worked with the police on Human Trafficking.

If we hadn’t been interested in the theme we wouldn’t have gone. If it hadn’t been for my interest in the topic, I am not sure I would have stayed to watch the whole thing. It’s the sort of film you would feel guilty for leaving before it ended. Watching it was like a penance. Neither of us would watch it again.


  • Entertainment value was 0/10.
  • Shock value was 15/10  – even for people acquainted with the subject.
  • Educational value – ok if you see this as an historical  episode for the history class – but no actual data or message apart from the story of this one man was given.
  • Educational value – 0/10 if you are trying to transfer the knowledge that there are 1.5 million individual people who are victims of slavery TODAY – right now, on this day in March 2014 – in the UK and Europe. And another 20 million world wide.

I guess I would be far more sympathetic to the film if the Director had misquoted Stalin “The slavery of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic – and millions are enslaved in the world today!”

But the film didn’t.

The parallels between what happened to Solomon Northup and what happens to other ‘free’ people bought and sold in 2014 now are huge.

  1. The tricking and deceiving of victims by false promises, “boyfriends”, the use of alcohol, drugs, threats and beatings.
  2. The quiet complicity of other slaves, staff and spouses and families of masters.
  3. The way new slaves cling to the word “live”, then compromise with “survive”.
  4. The inertia and inability of slaves to help each other and to escape and the need for understanding and support from the authorities.
  5. The fact that having papers endows humanity, nationality, “privilege”. In Africa, not having your  “situpa” was a bad place to be for black people – another bad episode in history. However, right now in the UK, human slaves are deprived of their passports and forced to work for little or no money and kept as slaves.
  6. The wagon that transported the slaves in the film is not substantially different to the containers that slaves are often transported in today – just more visible.
  7. The fear of authority and the fear to report and the fear to appeal for help are all mirrored in the slaves of 2014.
  8. The mental imprisonment of the soul and the will of the slave. In the film this was shown by him being allowed to go shopping while so cowed that he didn’t dare to ask for help from a shop keeper. UK police fighting Human Trafficking/Modern Day Slavery tell of how this slavery without physical restraint – this ultimate submission, cowed by fear, exists today.
  9. Slaves harming other slaves – this is as true today as it was in the past with some slave “managers” being former slaves and some brothels being run by former prostitutes.
  10. The scary proximity of the slave huts to the main residence in the film. This nearness is also a fact of today. We see (but do not see) these faces of people who belong to other people on the tube. Some of these faces work in fancy houses in London. Some of these faces work in kitchens of restaurants and takeaways just down the road from you and I.  Within a mile of most people in metropolitan and suburban Britain there are likely to be victims of trafficking sleeping, surviving and being forced to work in expensive kitchens, prepare food in smily-fronted restaurants, or lie naked on their backs waiting for the next punter to hands over a few crumpled £20 notes. Human meat. Bought, owned, sold and resold – no receipt given. Child trafficking, sexual slavery, trafficking for forced labour and domestic servitude are alive and well. In the United Kingdom. In 2014.

That these facts are still true is a disgrace. It is current and real and must be said again and again.

All of these things could and should have been said in this film. Even with just a short fact sheet at the end. And a call to action. None of them were. That is a tragedy and a missed opportunity. Which is why I do not think this film should get Best Film.  Although we are both properly pleased that this British American film has been nominated 9 times.

But Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance should win him Best Actor.  I repeat. Nothing should take away from the phenomenal performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor. He brilliantly portrays the anguish felt at the hands of his oppressors and how hope can literally abandon the human spirit with crushing realism.  That performance should definitely win him Best Actor.

Peter Botting

winning elections - who calls the shots?

The Conference Speech and Winning Elections

Ed Miliband’s conference speech actually had an impact. Speeches are supposed to do that and they very seldom do. So I stand and salute. But will it help him win the next election?

Let us pretend for a minute that  our Pseudo-Dem, Nick Clegg, hadn’t turned his pouty back on an actual electoral reform – making sure that every parliamentary constituency had the same number of voters.

Politicians have a range of audiences to appease, engage, convince. The most basic difference, the one that tripped up Mitt (47%) Romney and still threatens the Republicans, is appealing to the selectorate and the electorate.

But a Party Leader’s conference speech at conference, when people actually half-listen, has multiple audiences. The selectorate; the electorate (i.e. the general public); the leader’s ambitious colleagues; the donors; the media and the increasingly important commentators; business and ” interested” third sector groups.

Let us assume there was a “focus on winning elections” thought process in The Labour Leader’s Office and that the content of the speech was the result of a strategic decision. What about Ed’s poor speechwriter if Ed had actually tried to appeal to all? Ed had a 3-way split selectorate of Brownites and Blairites and the Unions – who, annoyingly for him, also inhabit the major donor category. Plus the standard stuff – ambitious colleagues; normal donors, the media and the business community and third sector groups.

The Blairites who campaigned and voted for Blair don’t seem very happy. Owners of shares that lost value yesterday following the speech can’t be delighted.

Owen Jones and others, like Kinnock, seem very happy. But who else were the comrades going to vote for? Are there enough of them to win an election?

I know someone here in Sussex who has voted Labour all their lives who popped around and told me that now they would rather have Cameron in Downing Street. Whether they will bother to vote is, of course, another question. But that’s definitely one vote lost for Ed.

But there is a long time to go still, we still have Clegg’s “unfairer votes” constituency legacy to factor in, and Lord Ashcroft’s current polling says Ed will be PM.

Ed’s speech made  more headline than most conference speeches because his choices were tougher than normal and, at last, he made a call. Which will always please some and lose others. He has definitely helped frame the question. I quite like him as Leader of the Opposition.

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