Labour Party wants to emulate Obama campaign
Looking ahead to what still seems like defeat at the polls in 2010 -- even if the David Cameron Conservative party has slipped in recent months -- the Labour Party seems to have decided to emulate the Barack Obama campaign.
Fresh off a trip to the United States, Labour Party election coordinator Douglas Alexander is ready to hand the wisdom of the Democrat campaign team down to his own troops.
"They said this is about to peer-to-peer communication – the internet just gives you new ways of having that conversation," Alexander recounted. "What people on the ground said to one another was just as important, if not more important, than what Obama said himself. We could not put a price on it — regular people briefing Obama's message to their neighbours, serving as our ambassadors, block by block, throughout the battleground states."
This means that the Labour Party will have to use communications technology in a way they never have before.
"Historically Labour has used technology as a form of control," Alexander continued. "We would use pagers and faxes to send out messages telling people what line to take. The key learning from the Obama campaign is to use technology to empower your supporters."
But Labour will have to battle about an impending cynicism in the electorate just as much as against their Tory rivals.
They'll also strive to find new ways to by-pass what Alexander refers to as the "filer point" of British households -- the methods that British families use to keep unwanted messages outside of their home.
"Our judgment is the collapse in trust to the political class means the bar of credibility and authenticity is higher than in previous campaigns, so some of the traditional methods of communication are just inappropriate."
This clearly places a premium on Labour's message being spread from person to person, as opposed to relying on traditional forms of messaging to get the word out -- not that Obama didn't do this very well.
"Obama also had lots and lots of money. He bought a 15 minute commercial in the Superbowl. He was also a charismatic rock star on which people projected their hopes for the future."
And therein lies the rub for the Labour Party: whatever one may consider him to be, he unequivocally is not a rock star. He's not even close. In fact, GQ Magazine named Brown its worst-dressed man of 2009 (not that such things should carry much import).
Barack Obama was able to become a centralizing force around a broad variety of left-wing policy points -- so much so that he never had to make any concrete promises on many of them in order to excite the devotion of advocates for those policies.
If Obama could be described as a "blank screen", Brown has been described by many as an "empty shell". His lack of vision makes it difficult for many among his target demographic to invest a surplus of faith in him.
He seen as an individual who is as likely to intimidate his staff as to inspire his followers.
If Douglas Alexander and the Labour Party want to run an Obama-styled campaign, they may need to run a Trudeau-esque campaign with the leader in deep recluse.
It's about the only way they're likely to pull off such a feat. It helps that Alexander seems to speak the language.
"Change is a process: future is a destination," Alexander said. "People want a sense of hope, possibility and pride about Britain."
Then again, it doesn't help the Labour campaign if their election coordinator can speak the language if their leader can't.