I’ve tried to write a book review and some posts about the north-east to put on this blog. Every time I try, though, the Conservative party come up with a new reason for me to write about them instead. Usually, this is Team Cameron themselves. Cameron et al have produced a whole host of gaffes, thoughtless behaviour and policy shifts since the New Year launch of their campaign. But this time it wasn’t them. This time it was right whinger Tim Montgomerie from ConservativeHome.
Since January, the Tories have launched three poster campaigns with the idea of gaining good publicity for their campaign and to attract swing voters. Within an hour or so of each of these posters being launched, Labour activists have produced excellent spoofs, as you can see here and here. The latest was this one. Today, Tim Montgomerie launched ‘I’ve never voted Labour’ with this image.
Reaction on the blogosphere has been pretty unanimous, outside the usual right whinge suspects. All of Cameron’s attempts to show Compassionate Conservatism have been blown away by this poor spoof of a spoof. The Tories are still the Nasty Party. The difference between the Labour spoofs and the Tory one above, is that Labour’s aim at poking fun at the Tory Leadership. Cameron and Osborne featured in most of them. Or perhaps at the Tory (lack of) policies. But Montgomerie’s poster just mocks the recipients of benefits, and attacks Labour voters.
All of these posters, spoofs, and counter-spoofs are about creating a narrative for the media. David Cameron launched his original poster campaign with a press conference and unveiling ceremony to get positive headlines. Labour’s spoof from Clifford Singer changed that narrative and placed the media focus on how poor the Tories campaign was. Conservative HQ then tried to reverse this with the two following posters, but Labour’s spoof rebuttals and viral campaigning have ensured the Tories have had more negative publicity than positive from their expensive publicity drive. Tim Montgomerie has failed here on a few counts. Firstly, the mydavidcameron spoofs and resulting virals were out within an hour or two so were relevant, made great rapid rebuttal, and caught the mood of campaigners. Montgomerie has launched his poster site a couple of days since the latest Labour spoof and weeks since the original one. His campaign, and through it the Tories, becomes perceived as being slow to react and a little irrelevant. It fails as rebuttal because it’s been so slow coming. And it really fails to catch the mood because it is a poor replica of the original Labour idea, and is offensive. A viral campaign needs to spread by popular support. Singer’s mydavidcameron.com benefitted by the large number of grassroots Labour activists on social media drawing in people not necessarily normally interested in politics. The problem Montgomerie will face is that there just isn’t a Tory grassroots presence. This is where the Ashcroft machine versus the anti-tory movement swings in favour of the movement.
Of course the last way these Tory spoofs fail is that they’re just not funny.