JEREMY BROWNE ... former Lib Dem director of press and
'The major issue is whether high-intensity spinning has become
counter-productive. More than ever before, Labour and the Conservatives
have engaged in furious rebuttal and prebuttal exchanges. This has been
most evident on tax, with journalists being submerged under pages and
pages of contradictory statistics.
'The media has become immune to endless heavy spinning, while the public
is left almost completely cold by the Westminster election game. Despite
ever more polling and focus group research, the parties are not getting
under the skin of the voters. Despite all the sound and fury, the polls
'Kennedy's campaign points the way forward. The character of the leader
and straightforward messages - plus, ironically, smaller budgets - have
given the Lib Dem campaign a more "real" quality. With a cynical
electorate, being genuine is the great prize, and the spin doctors are
as much a barrier as a route to this goal.
'The post-election analysis may conclude that communications techniques
made famous by New Labour have reached the end of their shelf-life.
Instead the emphasis may become more minimal, less clever-clever, a bit
looser, slightly more rough at the edges. '
VERDICT: Trying to come across as 'genuine' is Kennedy's deftest PR
CHARLES LEWINGTON ... former Tory director of communications
'The "keeping silent" technique has to be one of the more effective
campaigning tools deployed so far. Unlike Neil Hamilton in 1997, Keith
Vaz has understood the need to say nothing - or at least nothing of
consequence - keeping a lid on a sleaze story, even when new allegations
surfaced in The Observer.
'Interviewed under duress, his answers have been almost bizarre in their
irrelevance. Eventually he offered an exclusive photocall to the BBC,
whose reporter was happy to comply with his desire to continue to say
nothing. Result: plenty of harmless colour stories about Vaz's
campaigning 'illness' but no row of substance.
'Ffion Hague is the second adherent to the "silence is golden" rule. She
has radiated charm without uttering a word, generating better reviews
than Cherie. The strategy begs the question why political wives need to
expose themselves by playing the media game during a campaign. Imagine a
campaign where all politicians were silent. Perhaps that would restore
voters' faith in democracy.'
VERDICT: 'Silence is golden' - less talk would restore voters' faith in
STEVE MORGAN ... former Al Gore campaigner
'The most effective tool is the internet. It may not be the most
important vehicle for message delivery, nor is it reaching large
numbers, in this election, but there's no doubt in my mind that its
future as a political battleground is assured.
'Both the Tories and Labour have invested to make use of internet
campaigning technology. Hague's e-broadcast on the Pound is an excellent
example. Labour has used humour to get its message across. Its pounds
20bn Cut 'n' Run e-mail game has proved very popular.
'All the parties are using the internet to provide basic information to
supporters and the media. The next election will see this medium evolve
onto a new plane as digital TV becomes the norm. The prize will be the
next generation of voters.'
VERDICT: Hague's e-broadcast typifies latest trend in e-communications.