Danny Rogers: It was pretty good, but not 'Obama' good

Depending on when you read this you'll be about to vote (and please vote, otherwise it's all a waste of time), have just voted, or you'll already know the result.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

Whichever way, it's worth a brief look back at the communications element of this unique general election campaign.

The pre-election polls have been close and volatile throughout, so an inspired comms campaign was more vital than ever. But did we really get one?

Interestingly, the key players such as Conservative comms director Andy Coulson, New Labour comms guru Peter Mandelson and the Liberal Democrats' Jonny Oates have kept a relatively low public profile. Probably a smart move. But there is no doubt that the comms operators have been putting heart and soul into their campaigns.

It has become apparent, when one compares this to the Obama campaign in 2008, that a UK election is still a very different beast from its US equivalent.

Despite the introduction of TV debates and rigorous control of the party leaders' appearance and messaging, no candidate cut through in the way Obama did.

This may well come down to the candidates themselves, but there was an absence - at the time of writing - of landmark speeches or knockout blows.

The Lib Dems must be applauded for achieving a huge surge of support. Nick Clegg has proven himself to be a political heavyweight, which is a victory in itself.

The Labour campaign was solid and feisty, if unadventurous. But it is to the credit of Alastair Campbell and Douglas Alexander that they maintained such pressure on the Tories, bearing in mind the opinion polls over the past two years.

The Conservatives' campaign has felt the best funded and the most closely controlled, revving effortlessly up to full power when it was needed. Winning over pretty much all the newspapers is testament to Coulson's skills, contacts and hard graft. And yet there is still a sense that David Cameron failed to achieve an intellectual consensus. He has proven an adept performer and positioned himself well, but failed to conjure the required substance to seize the zeitgeist.

Although much work has been done, there is still a fascinating comms challenge ahead. Even when the political turmoil settles, the economic debate roars on.

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