John Underwood, senior partner Clear Communication and former
director of communications for the Labour Party.
This election campaign has been a remarkably clean one, indeed somewhat
lacking in passion and fireworks.
The politicians and their spin doctors have remained firmly in control
of the agenda and even the broadcasters’ decision to keep politicians
off the screen and put political reporters on instead has done little to
dent the parties’ ability to get their messages across.
We can now see that Labour’s strategy was simple: with little to choose
between the two major parties on policy the choice becomes one of
competence, leadership and trust. Good news for Blair.
The big untold story of the campaign involves direct mail. Labour has
been bombarding its target voters for 18 months. The Tories were in the
field far too late and were heavily outgunned.
Verdict: Labour to win and to outperform its national share of the vote
in key target seats. Liberal Democrats to make significant progress
thanks to tactical voting.
Hugh Colver, public affairs consultant and former director of
communications for the Conservative Party.
There will be many out there who will observe that this election has not
been a great triumph for the PR men. There is a feeling around that the
campaign successes were not the work of spin doctors, but the work of
politicians following their instincts.
On the technical side there was not a single decent poster, pretty poor
advertising and some distinctly lousy slogans. The election broadcasts
gave some glimmer of hope that our industry would salvage some credit -
but not much.
Politics is public relations, after all. Perhaps we should stop trying
to impose some false expertise on to an industry that knows its market
and knows how to address it.
The last week has been about the switcher and the floater - quite
properly since there are now more of them.
Verdict: Week six to Labour - not my view, but the view of the
Olly Grender, director of communications for Shelter and former director
of communications for the Liberal Democrats.
I’m bored with people who say this has been a boring campaign. I’ve
loved every minute, so I’m awarding some ’on message Oscars’ for those
who spun above and beyond the call of duty.
The Labour campaign gets the top award. They stuck to their safety first
agenda and gave little away. Their advertising was bland, but safe.
The Liberal Democrats for sticking to education and health and not
wandering off into hung Parliament scenarios. In this they were greatly
helped by the consistent predictions of an overall Labour majority.
John Major, who did the only thing he could have and made the election
about himself and his integrity.
Top marks to all the spin doctors who this time stayed behind the
scenes, rather than allowing the self indulgence of media profiles.
The ’off message Oscars’ must go to the media for slavishly following
the Europe and sleaze stories to the exclusion of the bread and butter
issues. Likewise those Tories who broke ranks on sleaze and Europe.
There is very little a campaign can do to counter a lack of discipline
in the team.
The Conservative poster campaign has been very confused, only the demon
eyes made an impact, and they abandoned that before the campaign.
Verdict: Labour to win.