The Party Election Broadcast I’d like to have seen…

8th May, 2014 8:41 am

I can’t say I’m a big fan of Labour’s new Party Political Broadcast.

I don’t believe the message Labour should be taking to the electorate is “we’re not as duff as the Lib Dems nor as evil as the Tories”.

There’s no denying that both of those things are true. But “vote for us, we’re a bit less crap than the other guys” is not the message that’s going to either inspire increased voter turnout or win a mandate for the kind of changes that Ed Miliband’s Labour wants to make on a return to power. Nor is it the kind of message that will win over the anti-politics voters we risk losing to UKIP.

I think Labour’s message that these are tough times for too many of us is the right one. I think it is a sober and serious message. I get that the coalition parties are not dealing with the cost of living crisis, but I think those who are struggling need to know – really know – that we get it. That we take their pain and their hopes seriously. This isn’t that.

But I don’t want to be a hypocrite. So I’m not going to write a negative post about a negative PPB. Instead, I’m going to take my cue from my leader and set out Labour’s own positive agenda.

This is what I want to see Ed Miliband say. Direct to camera. No jump shots, no film students convinced they’re the next Bertolucci. A plain spoken and clearly delivered message.

Ed Miliband

“My friends we live in very difficult times. Thanks to a worldwide economic crash – one that I accept that the last Labour government did not do enough to insulate us from – we are suffering through a prolonged period of austerity.

Even now, as the economy staggers slowly back to growth very few of us are seeing our own situations improve. Wages are not recovering for all but a very few at the top. The rest of us find ourselves increasingly working for an economy that doesn’t work for us.

People feel shut out. Shut out of growth, shut out of the kind of future for ourselves and our families we used to assume was not just possible but natural. Our children with secure roofs over their heads, secure jobs and wages that would rise as they worked out their lives.

They also feel shut out of politics. Shut out by the broken promises – on Tuition fees and on the NHS. Shut out by a sense that we aren’t listening. That we aren’t on your side. The siren cry of UKIP that we’re all the same.

I know the Labour Party is on your side. But it’s not enough for me to know it. I have to prove it to you.

I know I can’t do everything in government that I would like to. We still have to deal with the deficit. We will have to undo a great deal of the damage that has been done over the last 4 years. We are constrained. But we can start to change the way things work. Change the balance of power between consumers and monopolies, change the markets that aren’t working – in housing and energy for example.

I offer you today two things. A contract outlining ten concrete ways in which Labour will tackle the cost-of-living crisis. And my cast iron guarantee that these will be enacted into law by my Government in my first two years in office.

If you are worried about the cost of rented housing and the lack of homes to buy, we offer you a solution.

If you are worried about the cost of childcare, we offer you a solution.

If you are worried about your energy bills, your job security or your ability to borrow as a small business, we offer you a solution.

And if you’re worried that I’m just like all the rest and won’t keep my word, I offer you this promise:

If these policies are not in my first two Queen Speeches, I will have failed myself as well as you. So I will step down. I will resign as leader of the Labour Party, as Prime Minister and as an MP. Because I came into politics to change things. If I can’t manage that. If I am unable to keep these promises to you, then I will step aside for someone who can.

I know I will deliver to this country and start to make the changes that our economy desperately needs to build us an economy fit for all its citizens. This contract is just the start of that. But that start is my pledge to you.”

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  • swatnan

    Reminded me of the belittling of David Steel in David Owen’s top jacket pocket, premerger of SDP and Lib Parties. Trouble is Lab may have to work with the Libs post 2015, and memories are hard to erase, especially emabarrising ones.
    Quite a promise. Maybe Ed should resign now.

    • John Ruddy

      In the unlikely event that we will need to work with the Lib Dems, it will be on condition that Clegg is no longer leader.

      • DanFilson

        You bet, and Danny Alexander and David Laws too!

      • treborc1

        And if they say no he’s staying, labour is willing to go into opposition, I think not.

        • John Ruddy

          No, Labour governs as a minority Government.

          • DanFilson

            Quite! I would repeal fixed term Parliaments asap so that 1966-like (though not the less successful 1974 #2), we could then seek an overall majoirty.

          • JoeDM

            A minority government would not get such constitutional changes through.

    • James Sorah

      I Cheered when I saw this PPB. One of the things which has been driving me to distraction since 2010 has been the lack of fight from Labour. This PPB has changed that and is hopefully the opening salvo in a fight back.
      I take Emma’s point that we also need policy substance and a positive vision and I am sure this will come. However in politics you do need to attack your opponents, particularly when that is their default campaign strategy. Otherwise you join a fight with your hands tied behind your backs.
      The number of negative comments on this site by the usual Tory Trolls also suggest this PPB has got them rattled. More please.

  • abragan

    “…On 23 January 2013, La Stampa reported that Axelrod was helping Italian prime minister Mario Monti with his election campaign and had flown to Italy to meet with Monti ten days earlier. Monti’s coalition went on to come fourth with 10.5% of the vote in the Italian general election, 2013”

    Say no more

  • Lorraine Hardy

    Emma – your version is great, perhaps you should be leader!

    • treborc1

      Why not she get my vote.

  • John Smith

    That would go down well, apart from a few hardened lefties & those in the public sector unions who do not care a toss for those they are meant to be providing a service

    • DanFilson

      Having worked in the public sector for 39 years, that is not my experience of the overwhelming bulk of staff working there. It gave me great pleasure to get staff with whom I worked to answer any phone – not just that on their desk – within 4 rings, and to have those we were obliged to call customers thanking me for explaining quite complex situations sufficiently clearly that they understood them for the first time intheir lives. I just wonder what real experience you have of public sector workers and their unions or whether you are one of the trolls who gets into sites like this to rant at them..

      Ah, I imagine you responding, what about the recent tube strikes causing misery to travelling millions? First reflect on what you would do if your employer refuses to engage with your union? Second, let me put to you a different side to the rail unions. Bakerloo Line trains terminate at Stonebridge Park and Queen’s Park with plentiful onboard and from platform announcements that all should change. Too plentiful, many seasoned travellers might say. Yet despite this, many travellers each day remain oblivious owing ot tiredness or alcohol or not speaking English. In the days of guards, the guard would check his own coach was empty, lock it, then move on to the next coach, and so on towards the driver, and only then release the train to the sidings. When trains went one-person operated, the staff were told to abandon this practice. But they finding bleary and bewildered passengers working their way across live lines in the sidings trying to get back to platforms. On more than one occasion they found children doing so. The risks are unthinkable. So unasked they adopted the procedure of continuing to check all carriages, the driver and any available platform staff combining to replace the guard. Yes, it meant that sometimes a train blocked the line for a minute or two, but rail staff in my experience put passenger safety at the top, and rightly so. A passenger using my local station was followed from a platform, stabbed and died in my road opposite where I live. That’s one reason why I deplore the removal of station staff – the reason for the recent industrial action. Yes, it was about protecting jobs, but also passenger safety. As you mock public sector unions, may I ask you, have you ever considered losing pay – remember, that’s what happens when you go on strike! – to protect public safety? They did.

      • John Smith

        The RMT was not on my mind, they are still recovering from the stress & grief killing off Bob Crow.
        More appropriate would be the communist led NUT striking & taking snowdays. Ruining the life chances of the young people they say they are helping.
        The hopeless FBU putting peoples lives at risk in pursuit of a greed driven agenda

        It looks like your ol’ mates are going to strike over pensions. Meanwhile the taxpayer, forced to pay for all of this, looks on with disgust

  • FMcGonigal

    The Lib Dem vote is already well squeezed so there are diminishing returns in attacking Clegg.

    • DanFilson

      They remain obstinately on a minimum 8% with You Gov, so it seems there is a hard core of faithful perhaps longing for a return to wha I would call social liberalism, not realising that was sacrficed by their party in 2010 on the altar of gaining power and that economic liberals now run the show. The true guardians of social liberalism are in the Labour Party.

  • DWWolds

    Milliminor looking directly into the camera? That’s enough to frighten the living daylights of anyone.

  • markmyword49

    Pigs will fly before he says anything like that. The Labour Party is now incrementalist and will only change the system at the margin. Gone are the days when they would push for a radical agenda. The policy announcements so far are little different than those proposed by some parts of the LibDem party. They talk of fairness and equality of opportunity but do nothing to achieve it. They certainly didn’t from 1997 to 2010 and why should we trust the same old faces to change now just because they’ve been in opposition for four years?
    The Labour leadership are just as much a part of the Establishment as the leadership of the other major parties. Middle aged, middle class, white, mostly male, Oxbridge educated who served their internships in the Westminster village. They have little idea how the majority of the population live their lives. They pretend to be at one with them but if you listen to them they have no sympathy or compassion. They care more about what the bean counters say than what is needed to transform the country.

  • Holly

    Personally I feel that none of the leaders from the three main parties have any idea how their usual supporters live, or want them to do.
    Having said that, Cameron saying he wants to improve Britain’s economy,(even though many disagree with the way it is being done) and is not ashamed to bang the gong for British jobs, is a lot more ‘encouraging’ than Miliband telling us Clegg is a underhand, slimy, two-faced g*t, who has no hope of ever being trusted again.
    Or Clegg telling us HE is everything Europe, Labour got us into the mess, and the Tories are only doing stuff/not doing stuff, because of me, me, me.

    • Doug Smith

      “Cameron (…) is not ashamed to bang the gong for British jobs”

      Lol. That’s why he’s acting as cheerleader for the takeover of AstraZeneca by the U.S. company Pfizer. You just couldn’t make it up.

      • John Smith

        Or Labour’s Axelrod taking a bung from Pfizer, or the Party, money in the form of a donation from Astra Zeneca.
        – You really could not make it up #Hypocrites

  • NBeale

    This would certainly be better than the utterly puerile rubbish in this PEB.

    The people who signed that broadcast off need to be named, shamed and sacked.

    If Ed approved it he’s clearly bonkers – and if he allowed it to go out without his approval why on earth is he so careless about bringing the party into disrepute?

    • Roger D Tew

      I think that this PEB sends out the wrong message to the voter it is saying that Labour regards the political arena as a juvenile joke. We have so much to offer the voter and yet we present this “comic” Monty Python type of rubbish. We should be concentrating on the appalling mess the coalition have made of the infrastructure to this once wonderful country, of the destruction of the NHS, “of the jobs for the boys” culture that they have instituted, rises for the millionaires and cuts for the rest. This should be presented in a mature, intelligent and adult and professional manner.

  • Sheila

    I’d be ashamed to show that PEB to family, friends and neighbours. Emma’s alternative is terrific!

  • Martinay

    Negative campaigning works.

    You may not like it. But which do you like less: one negative ad or five more years of the Tories?

    • treborc1

      That the issue these day which Tory party do you trust the most the one that’s in or the one which may come in.

    • Holly

      ‘But which do you like less: one negative ad or five more years of the Tories’….
      Banging the gong for Britain?

      Now not everything Cameron says he wants to do will happen, but the rise in private sector jobs sort of ‘backs-up’ what he is saying about working flat out to build Britain up, and if British companies also started to splash a bit of their cash and invested in the country’s job creation, who knows what could happen.
      You may not like it, but it is more inspiring than than Labour putting out negative ads on their opponents.
      How do people get inspired, or aim to re-build the country when hearing that?

      How does Miliband and his gurus switch the four years of the constant negative messages, that are starting to sound lame as things improve, into a positive message in the next twelve months. Without being pulled up on what Labour have been saying for four years?

      Cameron and the Tories have never really said anything that can be looked on as nothing but doom & gloom for the long term future of Britain, constantly telling the public that there are better times ahead, they know Brits are capable of helping re-build the country, it will be hard, but they ‘trust us’ and our collective character/spirit to succeed.

      Positive messages also work, and inspire.

  • Paul Bateman

    Passion and charisma, these are the things lacking from all party leaders. People vote with their hearts, not necessarily “facts and figures”. I’d like to see individuals discussing how they’ve been affected by the current government, not just generalizations and statistics. I’d like to see individuals looking surprised, pleased and enthusiastic by the policies Labour have to offer. Voters react to stories. Though the current PPB is a story, it’s actually a comedy sketch about toffs rather than something we really see happening to the sort of people we actually know. It doesn’t have the same heart-felt truth we’d react to like we would with stories we see for Sport Relief, etc, asking for support.

    Two other points, which I think are worth making since the appointment of Axelrod.
    1 – In Obama’s acceptance speech for his first term, he told a story of an old lady sparing $5 to help fund the campaign. This was the human perspective. This reached out to people’s sympathy, their empathy. Obama’s Twitter feed is still full of individual stories of how his policies are helping people.
    2 – When Obama came to power, he decided that no one in the White House was going to have a payrise during the financial crisis. He was leading by example. He was showing that they were “all in it together”. (We can argue that perhaps salaries in the White House aren’t small, but that’s another matter.) This is something the 11% rise in MP’s salary hasn’t shown. It smacks too much of being in with the bankers, etc. If Labour are to come into power, they need to lead by example, so doing things like freezing pay to curb inequality. I saw Rachel Reeves MP yesterday, and she was discussing about giving incentives to businesses to pay people a living wage. Though this is very important, she didn’t say anything about curbing high rates of pay. To curb inequality, you have to shrink it from both ends. Labour could do this by leading by example. They could curb their own pay, their own perks. And be able to do this with passion and pride.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Lots of solutions there Emma, can you give us an idea as how they are all to be paid for?

    • DanFilson

      You fall into the classic handbag economics trap of not understanding how judicious spending can “grow” the economy, especially infrastructure spending where extra liabilities are matched by an asset of equal or greater value. Sure, we must close the deficit, but by generating economic growth and not by simply looking at the two tired options of raising taxes (which, contrary to myth, Tories will consider, viz the VAT rise) or slashing spending (which Tories embrace with gusto, as they loathe the concept of the state).

      We need to understand that politics is the language of priorities, and learn to be quite ruthless at stopping spending in areas we don’t see as productive. So Trident could go very rapifly. We should maintain armed forces at a strength where we can defend our shores and peace, and fulfil UN obligations; but not pretend to be a world power by possesssing a weaponry we cannot ever use. We must also stop the welfare system subsidising employers, landlords etc and recast it to aid those in need without firing up the very overheated market of rented housing or propping up cheap wage employment (so, I would go for a markedly higher national minimum wage and regionally differentiated living wages also) – let employers bear their due burdens.

      I haven’t yet seen this PPB, but in general calm voices talking directly to the viewer are surely more effective than strip cartoons or flicking montages. In general, we need positive reasons for people to be inspired to vote FOR LAbour, rather than still more negative reasons for people to vote AGAINST the others. Lower turnouts suggest voters, uninspired, just stay at home.

      • Steve Stubbs

        On the contrary, I seem to be amongst a minority here who understand that there is a big time lag between investment and payback, so the upfront costs of investment are incurred long before meaningfully payback from growth. Wishfully thinking does not pay the bills, and given we are still in a deficit with still inreasing debt, infrastructure investment will require borrowing.

        The annual spend on Trident is tiny, savings from scrapping it will only accumulate only over the longer term. Fully agree we have got to get a grip of welfare spending acting against the interests of the taxpayer.

        I watched the broadcast and it is utter [email protected], what a waste of cash. Whoever came up with this should be sacked now before even more cash is [email protected]@ed against the wall.

        • DanFilson

          I don’t regard the interests of the taxpayer as distinct from those of the general public, and dislike the emphasis Tories place upon hard-working taxpayers as against, by implication, the rest of us who must therefore be shiftless work-shy scroungers. The change of thrust of wlefare spending is in the interests of the welfare recipients themselves – they don’t benefit from a out-of-control runaway rental market (in London if not elsewhere) nor from employers employing cheap labour subsidised by tax credits.

          The basic fact is that a debt matched by an asset of equal or greater worth is worth having. There is, sure, the issue of servicing the debt, but once the revneue deficit is reduced to nil, inflation will slwoly destroy both the value of the debt and the cost of the interest thereon.

          The spend on Trident’s replacement will be massive, over £25 billion by one out of date estimate, and the ongoing costs are hardly chicken-feed. As I said, politics is about priorities and this is not my priority, any more than hundreds of military bands, jolly though they may be.

          • Steve Stubbs

            You will therefore not like the current emphasis on hard-working families by this party.

            Matching the debt with assets is fine in a bookeeping sense, but as the assets will not exist at the time the debt is incurred, so that’s going to be a bit difficult.

            Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in return for a guarantee of its independence by US, UK and Russia. How do you reckon that’s turned out then?

            The west’s stocks of such weapons over many years is the reason you are not speaking Russian.

          • DanFilson

            Nuclear weapons as a deterrent are no more effective than tearing up pieces of paper and tossing them out of the window to keep elephants away. “But there are no elephants in Kent!” “You see, it works”. Phooey. How could Ukraine have used those weapons to deter Putin? The reality is that Ukraine had enormous internal tensions between its Russophile and cyrillic script population and its Europhile, west-leaning roman script pupulation. And these have found an occasion to display themselves and – though quite possibly aided by covert Russian forces – it has been masses of Ukrainians who have rent their own country in half. Disgust at the last leader will certainly have played a part.

            Russia deplores a power vacuum on its borders. That was why they went into Afghanistan to their great cost, and that is why they are concerned about the chaos of Ukraine. They also like to put distance – land – between themselves and their nearest potential enemy. It may be realpolitik at its worst, but the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was not about seizing half of Poland with minimal military effort but everything to do with creating extra distance for the German army to travel over when eventually it turned on the Soviet Union as it indeed did in 1941. That the German army was stopped just short of Moscow owes a lot to the cynical means by which the Soviet Union ensured they would have further to travel (and General Winter did the rest).

            Yes I do dislike Ed Miliband adopting or attempting to catpure from the Tories the phrase “hard-working”. It does not take a genius to see what hidden messages that phrase contains.

            You are concerned that work-in-progress in creating an asset means a brief (taking a long term view) period in which the extra debt is exceeded by the extra liability. That’s a council for despair – on your argument nobody would have rearmed in the 1930s on the basis that the Spitfires did not arrive in sufficient numbers until 1940, and nobody would ever start builfding a housing estate. You could do better than that line of argument, I’m sure.

  • Barry

    I don’t believe the message Labour should be taking to the electorate
    is “we’re not as duff as the Lib Dems nor as evil as the Tories”.
    There’s no denying that both of those things are true.

    Sorry, Emma, but you must learn to distinguish opinion from fact.

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  • DianeHain

    I thought the broadcast was successful getting key failures across that voters wouldn’t have heard in any other form, ie: 24 hour news & political programme, and long speeches, or even shorter ones would send the public into glazed eyed slumber. Furthermore, politicians have slumped to an all time low in the eyes of the public and they wouldn’t believe a word anyway. There’s so much prejudice & biased reporting in the newspapers & general media that holes would be picked in any such presentation. It’s all a ‘yawn’, or they’ve ‘heard it all before’ and ‘they’re all the same’ is the response to such things. At lease the latest PPB was done in good humour, and painted a picture of some of the worse things this Govt has done, in a nutshell, that people may have forgotten or got fogged in presentation in the media. VAT, Tuition fees, NHS, and Clegg’s flexible principals, the pledge, so on. Also in the context of the elitism involved, the bedroom tax, it couldn’t have been spelt out in words without the partying sounding negative and bitter, playing the class card etc. I am also pleased that Labour is experimenting in getting their message home in different ways. I think it was excellent, and although we’d all like it if we could make a stand and get our message across in a pure way, we must accept that the end result with the influences involved would be polluted & manipulated against the party. WELL DONE LABOUR. I think you’re getting somewhere. Go for it, add in some positivity here and there to give it balance, and make sure it’s on YOUTUBE.

  • ToffeeCrisp

    “I don’t believe the message Labour should be taking to the electorate is “we’re not as duff as the Lib Dems nor as evil as the Tories”.

    There’s no denying that both of those things are true.”
    I beg to disagree.
    I think Labour’s performance over the past couple of years has been far more “duff” than the LD’s and I’m not aware of anyone in the mass media accusing the Prime Minister or any of his cabinet as being un-convicted mass murdering war criminals or torturers. So, in comparison, just how “evil” can the current government be?
    A little reality check required here I think.

  • littlescrimmage

    All very interesting to people like us who are actually connected in some way with politics. Most people aren’t and you have to try another route to get their attention.

    The video has now had about 35,000 views on YouTube (which dwarfs practically every other Labour Party video on there). It’s probably been shared countless times on the basis of “blimey – something from a political party that’s actually worth watching.”

    Some thousands of people will now have got the message that the Tories are a bunch of throwbacks that are out of touch with most peoples’ lives and that the supposed national alternative has connived with them to make life worse for the many while feathering the nests of the few. And for some people that will be new information. And for others it’ll help make a few connections with politics for people who think it’s dull, boring and humourless.

    And anyway, lots of the vid IS funny – esp. the bit where Claggy shrinks to the size of a rodent (fox?!) and a plummy Tory voice asks, apropos nothing “can I hunt him?”

    • A lot of ppl watching YT might not vote however clever or funy some ppl think it is

  • Julian Gibb

    Without doubt the worst PPB I have ever seen!

    What idiot came up with that concept?

  • blingmun

    Dear Emma

    Not as evil as the Tories?!

    This is the kind of lazy ignorance that gets me scared about the prospects for democracy in this country. If the Tories truly are evil then they must be excluded from the democratic process. Locked up and prevented from, well, being evil.

    In the interest of sanity and peace don’t you think it would be sensible to retract your slur and accept that Tories differ with you as to what makes a good society and what means might achieve it, they have different interests to you etc.

    If you truly genuinely think millions of voters are evil you shouldn’t be mucking around discussing election videos. You should be building concentration camps.

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  • MikeMacsween

    Well, it’s just lost my vote. And the money the labour party gets from my union subs. If you behave like grown ups I’ll listen. But I’m not a child, and infantile nonsense like this video makes me think you have nothing worth saying, apart from cheap insults. As the writer says – ‘vote for us, we’re not as crap as the others’ is a pretty weak message. Especially when it’s wrapped in such a spiteful film.

    • DanFilson

      I tend to agree, though not so far as to losing my vote or my subscription. Labour must learn to distinguish between using language that is accessible and using graphics that are not too complex on the one hand and patronising the audience by under-rating its intelligence. I recall being on the doorstep and explaining the macroeconomic reasons why the VAT cut proposed by Ed Balls made perfect sense in a recession. The elector perfectly well understood the argument. I find most of our election literature in these local elections too consciously makes minimal mention of any local issues, and is over-personalsied against Clegg and Cameron, poor specimens though both are. We may be punished for that, as the LibDems pounce on local failings even if they lie, or misrepresent, to get thier saintly points across.

      • MikeMacsween

        ‘graphics that are not too complex’. Do you think the voters are stupid? I’m educated to post graduate level. I can read write and do sums. So can most of my fellow voters.

        That’s the problem with you political activists. You equate activism with worth. Knocking on lots of doors doesn’t actually make the views you then express correct. The country is full of ordinary people who get out of bed, go to work, take the kids to school, phone the doctor’s for an appointment and so on. People who live in the world. Political activists don’t have any special insight into ‘how things really are’. And the professional politicians even less so.

        What do you think your job is? To gently guide the poor stupid masses towards the ‘correct’ point of view. I’ll make up my own mind thank you very much. If this PBB had actually had any substance I might be more inclined to take notice. But guess what it did do? It made me look at Labour’s attitude to tuition fees. Which seems to be that they want to INCREASE them from the £3290 they were at when they left power, to £6000. An 83% increase. Pot, kettle and black.

      • MikeMacsween

        I didn’t cancel my union subs by the way. Just opted out of the Political Fund.

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  • SmellyFingers

    Hey you’re off that Glee show aren’t you?


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