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.


2012 is Romney vs Obama but Where the Hell is Joe the Plumber?

Frustration reigns as I watch the American Presidential Campaign and to be honest I’m still not convinced Mitt Romney is the man for the job of President. He may be good in business but that does not mean he can run a country too. On the other side of the voting pendulum I’ve been watching the Democratic Convention which was so sickly I felt like throwing up a few times.

I was brave and forced myself through the drivel to hear what they had to say. When you really listen to what they are saying they are really saying nothing but a few key messages to make the masses say yes I will vote for you and if I don’t then I am anti-American. I wish American politicians would stop talking about other people like “Mary Harris” in unkownville doing three jobs to put her 5 kids through university. Truthfully it is a great story to listen to – it tugs on the heart strings and it does not involve a politician having to say what their strategy is. Uh tactics are nothing more than emotional piracy to win votes. My honest opinion is that if you are a capitalist country you don’t have to start creating policies that make communism and your policies a little hazy.

Obama in the 2008 Presidential Campaign had Obamacare that stood out for the whole campaign. I honestly can’t say what Mitt Romney’s messages are except “Vote for me – I have been the head of many companies and know how to create jobs.” I think Romney really is missing the likes of Lee Atwater to create a memorable campaign so that win or lose. Obama was very clever though wheeling out Mr “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski” yup Bill Clinton – the same man four years ago who had a pop at Obama when the campaign was on against his wife Hillary in the race to be the nominee for the Democratic candidate for the 2008 Presidential Elections. I think subconsciously the American public see Bill Clinton as the man who beat one Bush out of the White House. He is a success unlike Obama who is seen not to have done much in his first term. Bill Clinton’s endorsement is vital for the 2012 Obama Campaign. Especially when both Presidential Candidates have no policies that make them stand out and be memorable. Although, Obama seems to be saying “It’s not me! It’s You!”

I have noticed that there is no Joe the plumber in the 2012 Presidential Campaign so far. I am sure a Joe the Plumber story is bound to come out nearer to the presidential debates. A Joe the Plumber will be something that everyone will follow and take people away from the real issues of the presidential election. In an ideal world there would be less Ra-Ra and fireworks and more talk about real issues. But hey that’s not American. Instead we will just sit back and watch the greatest show on earth as the presidential campaign goes on. I do wonder why the wives need to get involved with campaign speeches though. But that is another post entirely – for now as the Americans go to the voting booths in early November the winner will be the candidate who puts on the best show.

The Manipulation of Democracy

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about democracy. A lot of people say it is a great system and I’m sure it is however it is so easy manipulated. I was watching a documentary where Noam Chomsky commented on democracy. I think the example he used was that if we were in a truly democratic society that the masses who earn the least would want money from the few who earn the most. For me working in public relations is a means of changing the minds of the masses. So when I look at the bigger picture – if you occupy the minds of the masses with trivial games like sport and computer games and even Facebook games and more the masses are more occupied in something where the result is meaningless.
This is good for the rich few as the masses minds are not focusing on those few. However when it is time for an election the few that are in power then link themselves with sports stars and movie stars so that the masses aspire to become like the politicians and sports stars. I find another tactic that politicians use especially when on the campaign trail is scare tactics. This can be in the form of telling people that there will be fewer jobs, less food or even more crime. No one wants these outcomes and so they then think if we vote for this candidate he will stop this from happening. In reality they may not be fewer jobs or less food or even more crime but because an authoritative figure is saying such things they believe it. If you watched the Florida primary earlier this year you would have seen this in action with the Republican presidential candidates. My favourite or was Rick Santorum who said that he believed in fundamental freedoms.

What are fundamental freedoms you may ask? I wanted to know too and so I looked it up. Fundamental freedoms are things like: Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression.
Who in their right mind would not be for fundamental freedoms? So is this just a tactic by a politician to ensure that if the masses agree with him on most things then they might also agree that he might make good decisions when it comes to important decisions?

I find communicating with the masses or general public or audiences to be quite fascinating as to really influence them it has nothing to do about what you say but in how you say it.

Some PR Advice for Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition, comes across as Mr Bean who has decided to go into politics. I would use the term bumbling politician and am sure the Americans would call him a flip-flopper. I personally think the Labour Party is using Ed to get pounded by the Conservative Party each week while they keep well out the way. Blame Ed not us and then nearer to an election quickly replace his brother David in the role of Leader of the Opposition to go up against David Cameron. Unfortunately the Prime Minister is a PR expert so if Ed Miliband was serious about winning in politics he should employ the services of Stan Greenberg or James Carville. Looking at the current bundle of press cuttings I would suggest he watches the documentary ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’.

The truth is it is not his policies that the public don’t trust but the man himself. Leave the rhetoric behind and speak from the heart. Take a breath and relax a bit. Watching Ed Milliband in a television interview almost seems like watching a suicide bomber about to explode. He comes across as so agitated sometimes you would think he is wired up and someone has threatened to flip the switch and send some electrical volts through his body. His dark eyes also sometime come across as intense and wild like.

Tuck your chin in closer to your chest. You have a tendency to lift your chin giving the television viewers a direct view right up your nostrils. No thanks I am already trying to understand you. Is there something wrong with his very nasally voice? In all honesty more often than not I am listening to his pronunciation rather than what he is actually saying.

On TV it comes across like it is a race to get his three points across as quickly as possible. When in reality if he was calm and relaxed and only put forth one point he would be more believable.

He never smiles something David Miliband and David Cameron both do, even Tony Blair did it. Gordon Brown I couldn’t follow a speech because I would be counting how long it would until his next guppy gulp of air.

It may be worth doing a documentary on Ed Miliband so the masses can find out what kind of person he is and what makes him tick. People can’t relate to him at the moment because he is not his brother David who everyone likes or David Cameron who is the Prime Minister, family man and PR expert.

PR and Politics on Display with the Florida Debate 2012

For me PR in politics is at its best when there is a US presidential election and the debates start taking place.  I have seen a few ‘must see’ political PR films recently and enjoyed them both immensly – the first was the film ‘The War Room’ -(Documentary movie – 1993) and the more recent ‘The Ides of March’.  ‘The War Room’ was a bit of an eye opener.  If you watch that and then the film ‘Primary Colours’ you will see where they got some of their ideas from.  Anyway enough of films and documentaries lets get on to the Florida Debate.

Well, I have finally had time to watch the Florida Debate that took place on Thursday. To be perfectly honest I have not been following any of the debates so far but seen some of the previous candidates drop out of the race. From my brief glimpses on the news I thought Cain was a certain winner and then he was gone.  After I saw Michele Bachmans speech that she would not be continuing I thought it must be almost over.   I see now that the Replublican race for a presidential candidate is down to four. Obama must be having sleepless nights in preperation for the presidential debates or is it his campaign communications director who should be worried.   After watching the debate I have to say Ron Paul and Rick Santorum won’t be in the final two.  It will be between Newt Gingrich (I battle with his name so lets just call him Big G) and Mitt Romney.

As far as messages are concerned Mitt Romney is slick and has an answer for everything.  When you watch and listen you believe what he is saying and you know he is informed.  My concern with Big G was that he seemed to be doing a lot of fighting talk and it was precious time which could have been spent on key issues.  Big G being a Speaker of the House certainly has his finger on the pulse as far as issues in government are concerned.  I thought that in the debate he came across as very keen to spend money on the military if he were president.  I don’t necessary feel pleased about him handling health care. But if he gets his campaign team to work on his charisma he may be in with a shout.  As far as Rick Santorum was concerned I thought he finished the debate well but on a number of occasions I thought his answers were a bit of a thumb suck and in one or two instances I am sure he was glad to be the last candidate to answer the question as he was able to poach the answers off the other candidates. My eyebrows were raised a bit when he doubted global warming. (I suggest he make a trip to the poles while there is still ice there.)  I did smile a bit when he said that he believed in Fundamental Freedoms – if only I could have been Wolf Blitzer for a moment and asked who doesn’t believe in them.

I feel that Ron Paul is a bit like your grandfather, the perfect person to listen to but do you really want him dithering whether or not to send forces to a confict?  He seems too much of a nice guy and does not have the forcefullness you expect from a president when it is required. I am looking forward to any more debates if there are any – in the next few I will be very interested to see what Big G and Mitt Romney have to say.

I wish I could put a question to the candidates – it would be an environmental one –  Since George Bush Senior signed the International Climate treaty in Rio but it was not binding – Vice President Al Gore in Kyoto created something binding but then never brought it before the senate – President George Bush then scrapped Americas signing of the Kyoto Agreement because it was ‘Fatally flawed in fundamental ways.’  I’d want the candidates to tell me their environmental policies.  At the very least it would be a good laugh to see the candidates lie as no previous president has done something substantional when it comes to the environment.