Ben Furber says the web campaigns are as bad as the candidates

The web ‘strategies’ of the candidates are failing to impress for exactly the same reason the candidates themselves are: none of them has anything much to say.

I don’t expect more than the simple, flat and un-aesthetic websites and non-existent web strategies of the candidates because I don’t expect much of anything from them.

A leadership campaign can only be as exciting as the candidates themselves, and an online communications strategy can only be as exciting as the campaign. More bluntly put, the candidates aren’t exciting, so the campaigns aren’t interesting, so the web products are boring.

Why should I expect an exciting website, when I don’t expect an exciting speech? Why should I expect a profound video that makes me go ‘wow’, when I don’t expect a profound answer at a hustings that makes me go ‘wow’?  Why should I expect a smart and creative web strategy, when I don’t expect a smart and creative communications strategy?

None of the candidates came into this race with a message that made me think they ‘get it’. None of the candidates has articulated a view of the country that speaks to me. None of them has caused me a second of spine-tingling uplift. So nothing else they do will either.

I would love to see a bold video, an uplifting online campaign. But until we see bold and uplifting candidates, we won’t see that in their web strategies. Many people are disappointed – disappointed in the candidates and the state we’re in as party. It’s not that the viable candidates have similar (ish) backgrounds, political histories and CVs, its that they have a similar relationship to the previous government. An administration whose biggest failures were the failures to communicate, to regain the trust of the people and to uplift the party membership. All four of them couldn’t help Brown to do it, so why do they think they can do it for themselves?

They are still acting like ministers. It’s so easy for them to stay in policy-lite mode. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s so easy for them to spew the same ten word answer in twenty different ways. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s so easy for them to run all over the country telling members to ‘calm down’. They’ve been doing it for years. Members aren’t going to stop hating ministers. We’ve been doing it for years.

So the message today is simple: we’ll see the new media campaigns that some of us dream of when we see the candidates some of us dream of. Maybe in 2015.

Ben Furber runs a web consultancy and has been advising Jim Garner MP.

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10 Responses to “Ben Furber says the web campaigns are as bad as the candidates”

  1. Harry Barnes says:

    If the proposal at this link was followed it could lift the horizans of the candidates, produce a more meaningful contest and help the Labour Party to move onto more solid ground –
    It has gone to the candidates and has recently been circulated to 143 sitting Labour MPs who were formally my colleagues. But my emails may have landed in their spam boxes. But one of these has given the statement support so far. Guess who? See supporter No 42 for the answer.

  2. Hilarious – the campaigns accurately reflect the fact that none of the candidates have anything to offer whatsoever. You might as well round up five accountants having a pub lunch. Me – well, this former Labour voter of 32 years (voting) wants Balls to win, thereby ridding the country of Labour for ever.

  3. Rob Carr says:

    It’s easy to comment from the sidelines. I know. I do it on my blog all the time. And it’s easy to say none of the candidates are your cup of tea. But one of them IS going to be the leader of the Labour party. Surely it would be much more productive to pick your preferred candidate and get involved? Surely, if you have the expertise to help improve their websites then you should have volunteered to do so? If you have the time and energy to ‘campaign’ for an entirely fictional candidate, maybe you should think about picking a real candidate and doing the same for them.

  4. Bob says:

    Why bother- you are doomed to be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. The last 13 years of hypocrisy, lies, spin and incompetence mean that Labour is no longer electable. You may have your paid for voters( inner city, ethnic, three generations of dole etc) and middle class useful idiots but the broad mass of the public see you for what you are. When the constituency boundaries are redefined to give a fairer electoral system you will never see power again. I hope that Scotland does achieve independence for that will take away ANY hope you might have. Any party that can throw up the likes of Blair, Brown, Prescott, Vaz, Balls, Abbott and, above all, Mandelson and Campbell deserves to remain in the gutter whence it came.

  5. Matt says:

    Why should we get involved Rob?
    So we can all be routinely ignored again after the result and we have helped them fulfill their lifetime’s ambition of swanning around pontificating?
    Or so that we can help any one of the four serious candidates get off the hook they have been wriggling on throughout the campaign – ie, their role in propping up an awful leader who was leading us into oblivion?
    Or so that we can help them reinvent the wheel again for the umpteenth time?
    Or so that we can make them look good (or at least a bit better than they currently do)?
    Or to provide them with the imagination and the campaigning creativity they so woefully lack?
    Any particular reason – or all of the above?

  6. garethabbit says:

    I’m not sure what the message is here. I’m not even sure if the tone is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, or an all-out criticism of the Labour leader candidates.

    You’re right – coming up with a great web strategy depends on a well thought out brief. And for that to happen the designer needs to understand the client’s values, and how they want their audience to react. If the client isn’t making that clear, it’s the job of the designer to draw that information out.

    A great web strategy offers campaign communicators clear guidelines to measure whether their outputs are saying the right messages to the audience; that communicate the strategic values, in the correct tone of voice, and uses visual consistency.

    You say that none of the candidates have ‘wow’ factor. That they don’t have any new ideas, and they don’t ‘get it’.

    I’m pretty sure, being a web consultant you’ve presented ideas to clients and been frustrated by them saying “I don’t like it” without explaining any further, or “it’s not quite right, can you go away and do a few more ideas, I’ll know what I want when I see it. And by the way I’m not paying you any more!”, or “it just doesn’t wow me!” Is what you’ve written here any different?

    Reading this entry, I have no idea what you expect from the leadership candidates. Have you tried contacting them to let them know what would WOW you?

  7. Keith says:

    Surely you’ve got this wrong. A weakly-led Labour Party is a weak Labour Party. A weak Labour Party is unlikely to be elected ever again and will not be able to repeat the disasters of the 1970s and the last thirteen years.

    So cheer up!

  8. Ayse Veli says:


    I was very sad to read your blog claiming that the Labour Leadership Candidates web campaigns lacked the ‘wow’ factor and felt the need to defend David Miliband’s web campaign and explain why he ‘gets it’ and gets my vote.

    Since May 6th the Labour party has had 20,000 new members. Though I have undertaken no solid research to examine the reason for this mass movement to the Left, no one should doubt the ‘wow’ factor of a variety of Labour MP’s – in particular the Labour Leadership Candidtates (LLC) and David Miliband.

    I hold my head up high and admit that I joined the Labour Party because I want to be one of hopefully many more who will put an X next to David Miliband’s name, make him the Labour Leader and then assist in fighting the CONdems to No10. All the LLC’s are fighting heart and soul whilst keeping the debates fairly bitch-free. And this is the key point – they’re not in-fighting to the Leadership. Each candidate is focused on the objective of setting out their vision and values for the future of the party. is a revolutionary political website which is enabling his supporters, his campaign team and for David himself to connect with each other. The site is very well laid out, and active. It is far from being a Miliband love-fest, and is a healthy objective mixture of praise, criticism and questioning.

    So many people complain that most political discourse is one sided, with politicians spending far too much time preaching at us, and too little time listening. provides a platform where David urges Labour party members and supporters to ‘tell me your ideas’. His speeches and blogs are published as too are his audio blogs. His campaign team are doing a marvelous job in maintaining a current and active website which articulates David in the most modern of mediums.

    Another key aspect of David’s campaign has been Twitter. Now I doubt he spends all his free time on Twitter, but I am sure that he keeps his eye on what his supporters are saying about his ideas. I am a self-confessed DM twitterholic. I am perhaps his most frequent Tweetheart, but I do so with both objectivity and without expectation of a response.That said I have been a recommended Follow Friday friend on all three occasions he has done them which is cool and has introduced me to so many other fellow D.Milibandites.

    One of the most brilliantly inspiring things about David is his understanding of people from a variety of diverse cultures and backgrounds. I have met David on 2 very brief occasions that were less than 1 minute each, have been to 4 Hustings, and two of his ‘Conversation’ Q&A’s. People are drawn to him like a magnet – without him even uttering a word. David is as close a rockstar as a politician can be & he seems totally at ease and humbled. David gets asked the hardest questions and answers with confidence and empathy. You can tell if David is being really challenged on an issue or question because he pouts.

    The Movement 4 Change (M4C) is one of the causes closest to his heart and gives crystal clear insight into the kind of man and politician he is. David is handing over power and influence to local communities by inviting and training upto 1000 Community Leaders. He wants the Community Leaders to hold House Meetings where people are informed of his ideas, his vision, and plans for Labour. David wants these House Meetings to generate a two way conversation between him and the people as to what they think of their communities and what they feel will make them better. This is an ambitious pledge and one which is increasing in momentum.

    David Miliband epitomises the WOW factor. He’s real, emphatic, passionate, smart,approachable, a family man. He’s good-looking, a fantastic talker and focused on transferring policy pledges to people power.

    David and his supporters do not expect everyone to support or join his causes and website. If you either prefer the CONdems, voted Lib and got Tories, or just dislike politicians coz ‘they’re all the same’ then Good luck with that and your cynicism, but quite frankly my dear I don’t give a damn for the haters and cynics.

    Kind Regards
    Ayse Veli

  9. The Labour party? Who are they?

  10. AmberStar says:

    Clegg WOW’d a lot of people before the election. That WOW didn’t turn into votes. Then he sold his party to the Tories to get some experience of actually being in government. A lot of his WOW has, unsurprisingly, disappeared.

    So – Labour has five experienced candidates to choose from. All of whom are very aware that governing a country takes more than ‘Cool Britannia’ or similar retail politics hook. We are lucky to have them, spoiled for choice… & like spoiled people everywhere we fall into the trap of wishing for something that isn’t available. 😎

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