Labour set to mimic Obama style

Labour MPs, party strategists and UK public affairs professionals have been picking up comms tactics and campaigning tips from the electoral juggernaut that carried Barack Obama to victory in the US election on Tuesday.

'Yes we can': President-elect Barack Obama
'Yes we can': President-elect Barack Obama

A 20-strong delegation led by Insight Public Affairs MD John Lehal spent the week embedded in the Obama campaign, working out of the Democratic Party’s Florida HQ. The delegation comprised Labour MPs Kerry McCarthy and Sharon Hodgson, Labour Party staff including campaign development manager Greg Burton and senior comms officer Phil Dilks, and 11 consultants from London-based Insight.

Lehal stressed the clarity of Obama’s narrative (see box) and said the Democrats had placed a significant emphasis on using new technology to mobilise the vote.

‘It’s about using mobiles, text messaging and internet campaigning to build up your support,’ concluded Lehal. ‘People were registering on the website, giving their ZIP codes, being invited to events and being texted. They then went out to voters in their community and articulated the Obama message.’

He added that much of the focus in the final few days had been on educating potential supporters about the voting process: ‘There are people who don’t understand the difference between registering your vote and casting your vote.’

McCarthy suggested the Labour Party should learn from Obama’s focused message (see box) and apply the tactics used by the Democrats to educate potential voters.

‘The key thing that fascinated me was the mobilisation of people who had been completely disenfranchised,’ she said. ‘In my constituency, we have a lot of minority communities that have arrived fairly recently – for example, up to 20,000 Somalis in Bristol. They’ve never really been involved in politics and there’s a real issue about getting such people on the register.’

Although primarily aligned to the Democrats, Lehal’s group was designated as a non-partisan delegation and members also attended key Republican events.

 

How I see it

John Lehal
MD, Insight Public Affairs

‘The narrative was crucial. In every sentence Barack Obama talked about change. The posters said change, the bumper stickers said change, the website said change. You find something that resonates with people, keep it simple and keep reinforcing the message over and over again.’

Kerry McCarthy
Labour MP for Bristol East

‘Everyone knew exactly what Obama’s narrative was. Labour needs a narrative that says what the party and Gordon Brown are about, compared with what David Cameron and the Conservatives are about. We have to be very clear about what the party stands for.’

 

44 Years since Indiana and Virginia voted for a Democratic president

600m Donations in US$ for Obama (McCain had $84.1m to spend)

190m Obama campaign media spend in US$ up to end of October

700 Democratic election offices across US (Republican: 370)

77% Of UK PROs supported Obama (source: CIPR)

 

Picture: Getty

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury to reconvene tomorrow after majority verdicts direction

Max Clifford trial jury to reconvene tomorrow after majority verdicts direction

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home for the day after being told by the judge earlier this afternoon that he will now accept majority verdicts.

Labour "fooling themselves" over plans to combat attacks on Miliband

Labour "fooling themselves" over plans to combat attacks on Miliband

Conservative-leaning public affairs experts have questioned the value of Labour's adoption of US-style campaigning tactics in the wake of the opposition hiring election strategist David Axelrod.

PLMR appoints Professor Tim Morris as non-executive director

The vet who helped establish the British Horseracing Authority's anti-doping and animal welfare programme has joined PLMR as a non-executive director.