Posts Tagged ‘nudge’

How Labour can get out the vote that other parties cannot reach

10/05/2012, 02:22:14 PM

by Peter Goddard

One of the perennial concerns of political observers and party campaigners alike is the problem of low turnout. It’s a particular issue for the Labour party given some of the most disadvantaged groups, who would potentially be natural Labour supporters, are also among the least likely to vote.

Admittedly, high turnout is not the be all and end all – after all, elections with 100% turnout are generally characterised by a 100% vote in favour of the excited gesticulating man in a general’s uniform. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned from the world of sales and marketing which could increase the number of our supporters making the effort to have their say.

When campaigning to increase turnout, the temptation is to take an approach which attempts to convince people that voting is ‘a good thing’ and that the current government are the heartless friends of bankers.

This may be accompanied by a range of well-meaning liberal talking heads despairing that voters are not exercising their democratic rights to fight back against the government and wondering what more can be done to win back these disillusioned voters.

Whilst this seems logical on the face of it, it is an approach that may actually be doing more harm than good. The reason? Social proof.

Social proof is the principle that people tend to do what other people are already doing. One person standing and staring into the sky is an oddball. A dozen people doing this will soon find themselves joined by a flock of fellow skygazers. The government have latched onto a variant known as ‘nudge’ but that doesn’t mean it can’t be of use for Labour.


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Replacing nanny with a nudge is no joke

13/12/2010, 07:00:54 AM

by Michael Dugher

Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, recently announced the government’s plans to improve public health in the white paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People.  So what exactly is the plan?  Well… it’s to “nudge” people more.  They want to nudge people to make the right decisions when it comes to their health, rather than the so-called “nanny state” approach taken by Labour, where the “man in Whitehall” was telling people how to live their lives.  The idea is that people can be enticed, instead of being coerced, into making better decisions.  It is, of course, total nonsense.

“Nudging” is one of the government’s new buzzwords. It was made popular by Professor Richard Thaler, an adviser to David Cameron in the cabinet office’s behavioural insight team or “nudge unit”.  And, no, I am not making this up.  This is the infamous, supposedly civil service, team that includes former Conservative party staffer, Anna-Maren Ashford, Cameron’s personal image consultant and head of “Brand Dave” before the election.

Labour made huge improvements in public health, but the new government’s white paper comes against a backdrop of the NHS, and indeed other healthcare systems around the world, struggling to cope with the demands of a population that is eating too much, drinking too much, smoking and not doing enough exercise.  I speak from some experience, though I gave up smoking several years ago in a moment of good sense. It is curious to remember that the founding fathers of the NHS actually believed that demands on the institution would gradually decline over the years, as people were treated and made healthier and would therefore not need to use the health service as much. Instead, of course, demand rocketed as people began to live longer, as technologies and treatments improved exponentially, and as we grapple with the health problems associated with twenty first century living. (more…)

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