Posts Tagged ‘party discipline’

The twelve rules of opposition: day five

29/12/2011, 03:58:14 PM

By Atul Hatwal

Rule 5: Be the change you want voters to see

How does an opposition leader convince the sceptical public that they have what it takes to lead?

Just as defeat means voters do not believe a losing party’s economic prescription, they equally have little faith in the leader to make the big decisions that will determine the fate of the country.

Even if an opposition elects a new leader, they are usually little known by the electorate and tainted with the failure of the past.

Starting from this position of deep public mistrust, the opposition leader needs to demonstrate that they are fit to take that 3am call.

And this has to be achieved without being able to make any actual decisions that will impact voters’ lives.

Making statements on national and international issues is expected, but ultimately it’s merely opining.  An opposition leader has as much actual power as a newspaper columnist or a blogger. (more…)

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Politicians need to engage not constrain bloggers

30/08/2011, 09:57:31 AM

by Peter Watt

I had an interesting conversation this week with someone who still works inside the political bubble. They recounted how they had been trying to persuade a member of the shadow cabinet (I was going to say “senior shadow cabinet”, but everyone always does) on the merits of the Labour blogosphere. The shadow cabinet member was irritated that they were suddenly expected to take bloggers seriously. Why, they contended, should they have to take this self-appointed group of experts on nothing seriously? After all, all they seem to do is moan, criticise and complain. Of course, the same thing could be said of many journalists.

I have some sympathy with this Luddite shadow cabinet member. The rules have changed, suddenly we are all experts and commentators. Stories break and are commented on faster and faster. Trying to manage a story or maintain message discipline is increasingly difficult. The internet, Facebook, Twitter and the like have all meant that even if you wanted to run a command and control political operation, it would be pretty bloody difficult.

There is a problem here though. Political parties still want to operate as if they can control the message, in the same way that they did five or ten years ago. On the whole it worked then after all. Decide what you are going to say, and then say it often without deviation. As Ed Miliband discovered recently, it can occasionally sound a bit odd. But sound bites are only a manifestation of the truism of the goldfish like attention span of the average voter after all. Well, when it comes to listening to what politicians say that is. (more…)

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