You WON’T believe what this article tells you about the people emailing you

by Joe Reddington

Let’s talk about click bait.  It’s one of the scourges of the modern internet.  Advertisers pay by the view so the incentives for websites are to get people to click on the page regardless of if the page is relevant or informative. That’s why you see headlines like “You wouldn’t believe what this middle-class mum does for money” rather than “Middle-class mum buys ice-cream van”.   It’s a fundamentally dishonest form of advertising used to drive up some numbers while simultaneously making the world a less truthful place.

Which brings me to the subject lines of the emails that the Labour party sends to members:

mail pic  What’s the problem? The problem is this is so obviously click-bait. If I get an email from an address that seems familiar with the subject line “Thank you” I’m going to assume I did something nice for someone and I click on it half expecting a nice warm glow instead of the deep disappointment that I’ve been tricked into opening a campaign email.

“Telling you first”

You are “telling me first”? I suspect not, I suspect that you are telling millions of people on your email list first, many of whom open your email expecting to be told something useful and urgent only to find that it’s standard political boilerplate.

Do we really want to put obvious and direct untruths into the subject line?  I mention it only because teaching the voters to make a connection between the Labour Party and direct untruths might be, you know, suboptimal…

“This just happened”

Surely this is a candidate for the least helpful subject line ever? Now I find I’m associating your party with people who failed ‘basic email training’, when really I want politicians that can cut to the heart of issues like complex technical and social issues like open data, Snowden, digital privacy, and the right to be forgotten.

There is someone, somewhere, who is proudly saying: “The party email newsletter/beg for money, used to only be opened by 40% of the recipients,  now we have a hotter and more social subject line it’s almost 60% of them.”

Which is, of course, the equivalent of saying.

“We have tricked at least 20% of the Labour party membership into opening an email they did NOT want to.  They now associate us more with spin and less with truth, they are less likely to put their coat on when it’s time to canvas and they’re more likely to put the telly on when it’s time to vote. Meanwhile the 40% of members who would of opened it anyway now feel a little confused as to why it is pretending that a member of the shadow cabinet emailed them personally when clearly they didn’t”

It’s click-bait, it’s utter appalling click-bait. I want so much more from politicians AND IT’S NOT HARD. When you try and trick me into opening an email I would have opened anyway you treat me like a child.

The only crumb of comfort I can offer you is that the Conservative Party are as bad…

Con Mail pic

Joe Reddington blogs on disability and technology issues at This article developed from another rant here.

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4 Responses to “You WON’T believe what this article tells you about the people emailing you”

  1. Andy Dodd says:

    I agree with you Joe but I think the problem goes even deeper than just the subject line. Yesterday I received an email from Andy Turnham saying “NHS Vote: we won!” Problem is, I cannot find anything remotely near the front pages of any of the news sites or newspapers covering the vote. So we won a vote – that’s good. But we’re failing in so many critical areas to convert apparent good news into headlines, impact and changed perceptions that I find it hard to see any value in this kind of email other than to preach to people who are already converted.

    The email continues: “We have a fortnight to keep up the pressure we’ve created on David Cameron.” This may be true. But based on the news of the past few months, the only people putting pressure on David Cameron are Ukip. Labour in this parliament has pretty much failed to express with any kind of conviction why people should vote for it. When George Osborne was defining the economic narrative for this parliament, we were navel gazing in a leadership contest. Whilst the Tories were privatising the NHS, hammering those on low incomes, the unemployed and the disabled, we were mostly avoiding conviction politics and offering people more or less the same choices with a little bit of a softer edge. When Ukip made immigration the single most important issue we have faced since the Norman Conquest, we went along with an anti-immigration lite policy of our own.

    So personally, I don’t really care what the subject of the email is. What I am searching for, hoping for, yearning for is content of real substance and conviction – e.g. this is what is wrong with our country, this is how a Labour government would fix it by being true to its socialist principles and if people disagree, let them make a better argument as to why they think their solutions are better. As it is, today we have the worst of all worlds: a deeply unpopular Tory/Lib Dem government and a deeply unpopular opposition that is seen as having limited credibility on the key issues. And from this vacuum, the poisonous and baffling Ukip movement emerges. What a mess this country is in.

  2. swatantra says:

    I jus delete them if I see the word DONATE in there sommewhere.
    I am a strong advocate of the State funding of major respectable Political Parties.
    ie Parties should be funded from general taxation, if they were we might get more of the public interested in how their money is spent.

  3. bob says:


    Please define ‘respectable’?

  4. Tafia says:

    Swat, funding parties is unfair on smaller parties such as the SNP, Plaid, the Northern Irish parties etc etc. It also gives an in-built advantage to already established parties and will eventually lead to a two party system.

    A more realistic approach would be to ban donations to parties and to fix membership fees – that way if a party can’t attract members then it deservedly dies. If a party can’t stand on it’s own two feet then the consumer has rejected it as surplus to requirement.

    No party has a right to exist.

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