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A comedy of errors: The most woeful election campaign in history?

8th June 2017


And then there was an election! Following a swift fifty days where we have witnessed some of the most (unintentionally) comical electioneering in British political history.

For many of us who work in the business of communications the spectacle has been far more engaging than any of us could ever have imagined - simply because poor communications and presentation has come to define the campaigns above all else.

All the parties have consistently appeared woefully underprepared for the election fight which has led an abundance of hot air being expelled but very few political punches being landed. 

All of which seems at odds in our connected world where even the most basic social listening tools can easily and quickly identify the core issues, the questions and answers that will resonate with voters both within the constituencies and nation as a whole

Theresa May has emerged as an ice queen lacking warmth or empathy and saying very little of substance beyond her ‘strong and stable’ mantra which turned into election bingo parody weeks ago - and yet here she is, still trotting it out – seemingly unaware of just how irritating it has become.

The misfires have been frequent and many - there was the Cornish chip eating incident (if Ed Miliband taught us anything, it was not to use fast food as a picture opportunity).  The series of public U-turns whilst emulating a lady who was distinctly ‘not for turning’ and failing to give Trump the bird over climate change and making political capital from our domestic tragedies.

Labour and team Corbyn meanwhile have played an excellent social media game which has left the others in the shade.  For many, they have presented a distinct and viable alternative to middle ground politics and yet, the Labour Leader still can’t articulate a viable answer on the all-important (and highly toxic) nuclear question

And then there is Fallon leading the charge for the Liberals – traditionally the party of tolerance and goodwill to all men who took an age to answer a seemingly simple (and highly predictable) question around the morality of gay sex.

Which all begs the question - who is advising these people? And how can each and every party being getting so many things wrong when it comes to basic messaging, presentation and communication?

Did the snap election catch everyone by so much surprise that basic strategy and preparation was overlooked?  Are we looking at three strong personalities who are ignoring the sound advice from their teams or are these we simply witnessing the worst Comms strategies in recent British political history?

Six months ago Donald Trump stunned the world by winning the Presidential race.  His campaign characterised by lies, bluster and late night tweets seemed crude, distasteful and, ultimately unelectable yet the aftermath has proven his win was anything but a fluke.  

We now know that Trump’s campaign was one of the most evolved political campaigns in history; using analytical data from highly evolved social listening tools to identify exactly which (political) punches would land and where, using  algorithms to communicate key messages directly to voters.

It may have been comical but it was incredibly effective. Trump’s messages were loud and clear and served up on a plate to a hungry (for change) heartland of American conservative voters

The British campaign has had its moments, we have certainly laughed (a lot) however the communications strategies of each and every party have looked distinctly analogue by comparison.

Article written by Peter Mountstevens, Managing Partner, Taylor Herring



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