Archive for the 'Politics' Category

An age old problem

April 23, 2008

I was at a Frontline event last night which featured Menzies Campbell, discussing amongst other things, his demise as leader of the Liberal Democrats. As a ‘fellow yellow’ such close access to a former top Liberal was un-missable. Sadly, but strangely relevant to theme of the theme of this blog post, the room was only half full.

Are we obsessed with age in the UK?

With John McCain looking increasingly comfortable as a successor to George Bush at the youthful age of 73, do we consign our elder statesman in the UK to the back benches prematurely? Ming certainly thinks so and he holds the journalists of our national newspapers wholly accountable.

I disagree with him

I think there is attitude of unspoken meritocracy when it comes to age that extends beyond Politics to every walk of life in this country. When looking for chinks in your armour the British press will explore every dent, and if age is found wanting, than age will be your downfall. I don’t think there is any premeditated bias against elder politicians.

Consider Vince Cable, Rupert Murdoch, Bruce Forsyth (ok – I am stretching it now) – no one minds if you’re old as long as you can do the job you are paid to do. What Ming failed to do was convince the electorate and his own party was that he was the leader to take the Liberal Democrats forward and inspire the country. The same fate was served to William Hague and Iain Duncan-Smith but no one suggested it was because they were bald. They just simply weren’t good enough.

Politicians should be careful before they play the ‘ageist’ card as it undermines those politicians of senior years who are quite competently getting on with serving their constituencies.

Campbell will be forever remembered for his ‘temporary Leader’ gaffe in the House of Commons and did nothing to improve his authority last night by referring to Blair and Clinton as:

“you know, those two on TV… you know who I mean… you know those two old boys in the 70’s ( Morecambe and Wise someone suggested from the crowd) yes that’s right Morecambe and Wise. Actually Blair and Clinton aren’t like them at all….”

Ming’s failure was more to do with his own performance, that’s my opinion anway. Maybe I am ageist?

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Should PR (and Politics) be more regional?

April 4, 2008

With my Yellow Rosette pinned to my coat lapel, my clipboard stuffed with fresh sheets of paper and an earnest, trustworthy and caring expression, I left my house and headed for the mean streets of Cambridge. I haven’t become a door to door salesman, but a council candidate for the upcoming local elections.

If truth be told, Cambridge isn’t a very ‘mean’ place to canvass at all, in fact there are a probably few easier places one could start their political career than the middle class utopia of this famous University town, but still, signatures don’t write themselves (unless you live in a safe Labour seat in Birmingham) and I had doors to knock.

My first observation from my two nights campaigning is that people are a lot friendlier than you expect them to be. One family were so delighted that ‘someone’ from their party was standing that they gathered the whole family together to sign my nomination form and heartily wished me the best of luck (in case you were wondering, I need lottery-esque luck to win the seat). There were of course those people who spied you with suspicion (one woman told me she had the flu and that I should leave immediately unless I didn’t want to get ‘very’ ill) but they were a minority.

I didn’t meet the wave of apathy that I had been expecting, instead confusion reigned.

“are you from the same party as Boris Johnson”

“I think Labour do a good job in this area” (both council and MP have been Lib for the last few years)

“I was against the War in Iraq so I am sorry I just can’t support you”

Does PR (and as part of that, Politics) speak to regional areas in a way we think it does? Not so long ago I worked on a public sector campaign and before we actually had any stats at all, we wrote the press release and left gaps where we later inserted ‘regional’ variation. Does the blind determination to tell the local story contrary to any evidence for that story really help you or the client?

My argument is clearly no.

I think we’ve become accustomed to a London way of thinking in the last few years that is beginning to blight Politics and the news agenda as a whole. As an example of this, consider the way in which the 2012 Olympic debate has been fought and lost. One local campaigner told me the other day that they wanted Cambridge to be an Olympic free zone… What an utter disaster that our biggest opportunity to challenge child obesity and under performance has been turned into a negative thing because the country as a whole has been let down by miscounting and bad PR.

A question then. Are PR agencies that are only based in London equipped to tell the local angle that a story so often needs to cut through the apathy?

Catholicism, Politics and PR.

March 22, 2008

The various Catholic Leaders who are putting pressure on Catholic MP’s to vote a certain way should be publically censured for an outrageous abuse of PR.

It’s Easter, a time in which Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a time remembered for the meddling of ‘High Priests’ and Politiciansk, yet the Archbishop of Cardiff (and others) has attempted to manipulate public opinion against Catholic Members of Parliament.

The archbishop told BBC Radio 4: “Those MPs who have approached me over recent weeks have said: ‘Look, I don’t think this is right. I accept the teachings of the Church, yet I am a Government minister, or I am a Labour MP. Can I discuss with you the moral dilemma I have got?”

Religion is and should always be a private matter for an individual and the Catholic leaders who have effectively tried to blackmail Catholic MP’s into voting against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, should be publically reprimanded by Catholic MP’s.

In a world in which we are trying to build religious tolerance and understand why certain groups are driven to extremism, it seems odd that our Religious leaders still think that MP’s are to be used as religious pawns as there were in the 18th Century.

In PR terms I feel that the Catholic Church and those MP’s who admit to be practising Catholics have been damaged by a very awkwardly executed media campaign. The campaign should have been solely focused on the need for a free vote on this issue and not suggested that Catholic MP’s are undertaking some conspiracy that will see them all voting against the bill.

We should be free to vote for Politicians who will represent constituencies and constituents without being clouded by religious sentiment.