By Joe Wade Saturday April 17
As well as political videos, at Don’t Panic we are also known for posters and so it is with a critical eye that we have observed political parties wrangle with the key campaigning weapon, the political poster.
The Tories struck first with an extreme close up of David Cameron’s massive, smooth face. An instant graffiti magnet, it also spawned the mydavidcameron.com website which allows you to deface Dave’s mug from the comfort of your own computer. Labour returned fire and shot themselves in the foot with a David-Cameron-as-Gene-Hunt-from-Ashes-to-Ashes poster (below).
Why did no-one at Labour HQ think, “Wait a minute, that actually makes Dave look cool”? The Tories quickly released their own version mocking Labour’s incompetence (below).
The fly-weight propaganda bout leads us to ask two questions: why are political parties so useless at advertising? And if they are so hopeless at organising a few posters, how can we trust them to run a whole country?
Ed and David Miliband were the ‘brains’ behind the Ashes to Ashes poster, picking it as the winner from a Labour design competition. Ed and David are the sons of Marxist academic Ralph and they both gained first class degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, before going to study even more politics at Harvard.
Perfect preparation for a quick stint as a political analyst at a think tank before being fast-tracked to the centre of government. David is married to a concert violinist and Ed’s partner is a barrister. You just can’t see them sat in watching Ashes to Ashes with a pizza, and it’s this lack of any connection to the real world that makes it difficult for some politicians to communicate with people like us, who live in it.
Like the Milibands, David Cameron boarded the express train straight to front bench politics, by way of Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, but unlike them he travelled in the Eton carriage (ensuring he didn’t have to sit next to any plebs.)
He has even less experience of real life. People from Eton are so posh that they call people from other famous private schools, like St Paul’s, “oiks.” Ask Gideon Osborne (or George as he now calls himself), as it’s how he was abused by other members of the exclusive Bullingdon Club at Oxford University (Dave, Boris Johnson and Nat Rothschild were also members, see image top left of page). If he’s an “oik” despite being an aristocrat and having an £8 million trust fund, what does that make the rest of us?
This species of politician is multiplying and gaining control of both parties. The Dictionary of Political Thought defines them as the Political Class and describes them as follows: Increasingly important in modern democratic politics, (a class) of people who have made a career in political and administrative institutions, but who have not had any experience of the ordinary workplace.
The Political Class is in the ascendancy due to 2010 being an extraordinary election. 140 MPs are standing down, the biggest number since the end of World War II (partly in response to the expenses scandal). This could mean an exciting opportunity for political renewal, but it also means an awful lot of experience has been lost, especially when you consider who is replacing the veterans.
The think tank New Local Government Network estimates up to 25% of the new intake of MPs in 2010 will be from the Political Class. We have already been shown that they can’t do posters – whether or not they can run a country remains to be seen.