Friday, March 07, 2008

Co-opting the counterculture

David Cameron says:
[The internet] has transformed our lives and is now transforming our political culture. It has given birth to a whole new age of political communication and is putting people firmly in control.

The Conservative party recognises these challenges, and we are already adapting to meet them. Last week, we launched our new ad campaign on Facebook.

Their Facebook page appear to be primarily a shiny press release feed and some videos of Cameron. It’s the same dreary political PR in a marginally different format.Which is fine, but it’s not much to shout about.

It certainly doesn’t merit this level of self-congratulation:

I don't think Gordon Brown understands the changes that are happening in our world. He's still too attached to the old politics - where power and decision-making lies in the hands of a few at the very top. My generation, however, instinctively understands these changes. And I'm proud that it's the Conservative party that is leading the way.

Charles Leadbeater cuts through the crap pretty clearly:

As more politicians take to the web, with their carefully calculated YouTube channels and social-network profiles, so they will diminish its radical potential. The web will become a tool for "politics as usual".

(The new Tory slogan is ‘You can get it if you really want’. What was I saying the other day about consumerist politics? Oh well…)


One other feature of their PR campaign is, as Cameron puts it:

We also introduced a new "friends" programme, giving people the opportunity to support us with however small a donation they like. We understand that for many, the idea of signing up to a party as a full "member" doesn't fit with what they want.

That “fit with what they want” sounds perilously like branding bullshit to me (of which I’ve had rather too much this week).

So, what do you get for your paid-for ‘friendship’ with the Conservative Party? This:

By becoming a friend, you’ll be helping us campaign for the change people really want. Donate as much or as little as you like, and help us to get rid of this incompetent Labour Government at the next election.
As a friend, you’ll receive:
  • A weekly newsletter
  • Regular updates on how to get involved in your local community - for example, in one of our Social Action projects
  • Access to our new Affinity Programme, which will give you discounts on a great range of products

Hmm. I pay them to be my ‘friend’, and in return they email me press releases and give me money off various undefined pieces of tat – sorry, “a great range of products”!

Well, I’m not sold. What was I saying the other day about consumerist politics?


Cassilis said...

Such is you Uber-cynic status Tom I wouldn't expect you to be particularly thrilled by the Tory campaign.

Worth pointing out though the 'friends' thing is lifted straight from the US and may indeed be the answer to the funding problems. That's why Obama's managed to outspend Hillary almost 4 to 1 in some states...

Danivon said...

Labour also tried the 'friends' thing about 2-3 years ago. The Tories have not come up with a new idea at all, they've just nicked it.

Obama is outspending Hillary because he is more popular, and Hillary spunked too much on Super Tuesday.