Day three of coverage for Labour’s London election campaign broadcast and the interest it provoked has not abated. That itself makes it an effective campaign initiative. Most election broadcasts disappear without trace. Ken’s will be talked about long after the election is over.
More than that, it tells us a number of things about the campaign and the candidates.
The reaction of Labour’s opponents to this has been instructive. The haters seem to fear that Ken’s empathy for what is happening out there and this honest display of his real feelings may blunt the vicious attacks they have deployed against him. So their response is yet more attack.
Contrary to some reports, the people in the video are not actors. Most were ‘street cast’ where our agency asked people on the street who they are supporting and recruited them for the video; others were already known Labour supporters. All are genuine Labour supporters.
Ken’s broadcast is about the tough times we’re living in and the real possibility of an alternative. It speaks straight to the experience of people in a city where the cost of living is rising and where many are worried about their living standards and their children’s future. Labour’s campaign has been bowled over by the fantastic response to the broadcast. It may yet contribute to defining the terms of the election.
Boris Johnson’s Tory ad is the classic incumbent’s video, long on record, pushing the sometimes subliminal, sometimes explicit ‘don’t put this at risk’ messaging. It contains a meagre forward offer that fails to inspire.
Fundamentally, Ken’s broadcast is all about Londoners. Boris Johnson’s is, well, about Boris Johnson. That encapsulates everything that sums up the choice.
We’ve seen plenty of talk about the tears. This is a broadcast that conveys Labour’s values with a personal touch. Of course it is a film intended to reach directly to people and their experiences. Some will by definition be moved by it. I’ve watched numerous people view it since the rough cut of the film was delivered in our campaign HQ and many of them have had an emotional reaction – Ken is not the only one to well up. I’ve found that many Labour supporters particularly react to the lines about the NHS and the cut to the EMA but reactions are different among different people.
Ken’s emotional response to this simple and effective video sums up one of the most important reasons why so many of Labour’s campaign team are so proud to work for him. He cares about what is happening to people in London. He is moved by it and he wants to make a difference. He is one of the most talented and effective political administrators Labour has produced – but he also functions at an emotional level too. Sometimes he is accused of lacking empathy; he just shows it in his own personal way.
But ask yourself if you can imagine this emotional response from Boris Johnson: an emotional response about the lives of people struggling to get by, and his duty to stand up for them and do something about it.
Whatever your view of Ken, he is passionate about the hard times London residents are facing. He is driven by doing something about it. He is in it for London. That’s what this election broadcast has thrown into sharp relief.