2015 Election – Political Strategy and PR messages

It is amazing looking back after an event and seeing the strategy that was taken in making a political campaign a success or was it that the plan worked better than expected.

Ed Miliband with David Axelrod
Ed Miliband with David Axelrod

At the start of the 2015 political campaign Labour had David Axelrod as their main political strategist who was one of President Obama’s advisors in the US.

The Conservatives had the Australian Lynton Crosby as their campaign manager who was brought in initially to help Boris Johnson win the Mayor of London election in 2010. They also had Jim Messina who was Obama’s Campaign Manager which raised my eyebrows especially as he was consulting from the US during the election.

So when did the political strategy start for the Tories. For me it was when the Prime Minister said he will do one debate but only with all the political seat holders. The Labour party and many others were saying that the Prime Minister was scared. However, when looking at it now it was quite a clever ploy. As the Labour Party normally rely heavily on their Scottish seats in parliament and that there was a Scottish referendum in 2014 as to whether Scotland should become Independent or not. As far as strategy for the Conservatives is concerned it would be wise to try and lower the amount of Labour votes in Scotland. This could be tactically done with a 7 party debate live on TV where newly elected Nicola Sturgeon (she took over from Alex Salmond after Scotland did not vote for independence in 2014) could become the face of Scotland in the UK.

The second debate did not include the Prime Minister or the Conservatives and was in my opinion the start to Ed Miliband’s downward spiral. There were two defining things to the second political debate: debate_milibandthe absence of the Liberal Democrats and Ed Miliband telling Nicola Sturgeon that Labour would never form a coalition with the SNP. In my opinion as far as Scottish voters were concerned having just voted to remain part of the UK they wanted to be told that they would have a voice in Westminster. This was a key message of the SNP but was somewhat muted by the Labour party.

If I was a Scottish voter and standing in the booth – my question would be – who can give me the bigger voice in Westminster? Unfortunately for the Labour Party, the messages of improvements for workers, was just not strong enough for the Scottish vote. I think too much time and effort was spent on making Ed Miliband a leader for the Labour Party than Ed Miliband leading the country. In the last few weeks of the Campaign Ed Miliband was good. But by that time it was too late. That Ed Milliband should have been seen a year before. Ed in my mind will always be the Labour leader who “forgot” to talk about the deficit at the Labour Party Conference. He made an amazing speech the following week or it may have been a few weeks later and afterwards I was left confused as to why a better speech was done after the Party Conference. All it did was make me doubt him as a leader. I still feel it was a mistake his brother would never have made but as they say ‘that is politics’.

I think Nick Clegg was in a false state of security being part of the coalition government during the elections. The Liberal Democrats are a small party and not taking part in the second debate was a major

Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg

error. Most voters knew the Liberal Democrats would struggle for votes during the election but by missing out on the second debate I felt they (Lib Dems) were not willing to fight for votes. If the party has no fight in them for votes how will they fight for you when they are back in parliament? After that happened I thought the Lib Dems were just hot air for the rest of the electoral campaign. Also they were missed by the public in watching Labour and the SNP fight for votes

With the predicted loss of Labour seats in Scotland, and the Liberal Democrats’ predicted loss of seats (due to their false promises in the 2010 election), the Conservative strategy would have been to focus on gaining the predicted seats that the Liberal Democrat maslows_needswould lose in the election. How do you win over those seats? By consulting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs of course. Well that is part of it. First scare everyone to death by saying the Labour Party is getting together with the SNP even though Ed Miliband denied it on TV. Psychologically as a voter I was thinking mmm Labour are being sneaky. So as a voter thinking some parties are being sneaky and we are coming out of a deficit what messages do I want to hear? The one word which got the Conservatives elected in 2015 is the word ‘Security’. In selling terms this is known as providing the solution to your problem.

So in short give SNP a voice and let them fight it out with Labour on Live TV. From there it would be up to Labour to fight for their seats in Scotland which for many years were almost guaranteed Labour seats. As the Conservatives were not going to get seats in Scotland anyway the aim was to secure 23 which were Liberal Democrat seats to get a majority in government. So while the Labour party concentrated mainly on getting votes in England their Scottish stronghold was dissolving.

The Lib Dems were easy targets. After almost being labelled ‘not trustworthy’ after the last elections in 2010 they had to pull some miracle out of the bag. What were their messages? There were so many messages which were red lined and others were not it was quite confusing. There was also Nick Cleggs effort of telling voters to vote for Lib Dems in a tactical vote so that they could decide either to join Labour or Conservatives in a coalition. How confusing for the voter! Personally you vote for the party of your choice – why would you need a middle man party who you can’t trust to decide who they want to team up with?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Hartley/REX (4131263a) Lto R Lord Feldman, Lynton Crosby, Jim Messina (Obama's campaign manager wjho has been hired as an advisor to the Conservatives) and Grant Shapps. Conservative Party Annual Conference, Birmingham, Britain - 29 Sep 2014
Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Hartley/REX (4131263a)
Lto R Lord Feldman, Lynton Crosby, Jim Messina (Obama’s campaign manager wjho has been hired as an advisor to the Conservatives) and Grant Shapps.
Conservative Party Annual Conference, Birmingham, Britain – 29 Sep 2014

There must have been high fives all round from the strategy team at Tory HQ on 8th May. So what is going to happen now? I think SNP will have loud voices in Parliament. It will be hard work for the Prime Minister but his party has the majority and the Labour party are a smaller team on the other side of the room. Job done for the election campaign and now on to something completely different – The next 5 years in government.


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