This European Election campaign should never have happened. We voted to leave the EU three years ago and yet we're still in it. Blame who you like - the ERG, Theresa May, Parliament, Remain MPs - it doesn't really matter. Fact is, we'll all (well, all might be an exaggeration) voting next Thursday.
It's been a strange campaign. The Tories have had no campaign launch and aren't going to launch a manifesto. There's no activity on social media. It's as if they know what's coming so will do the bare minimum. Their Freepost leaflet was one of the worst I have ever seen. Labour continues to try to straddle the Remain/Leave fence and, like the Tories, is haemmoraging support to the Brexit Party.
The LibDem revival in the local elections has given them a filip, and their 'Bollocks to Brexit' manifesto title was, despite what its critics have said, was inspired. It effectively pushed Change UK and the Greens out of the limelight and established the LibDems as the main party of Remain - something they have singularly failed to do in the last three years.
Meanwhile Change UK lurch from PR disaster to PR disaster. They relaunched their Twitter feed with the awkward handle @Forchange_now and forgot to keep their old @TheIndGroup handle and allowed it to be nabbed by a hard Brexiteer who is now tweeting away, ridiculing them. Their logo design was another PR disaster, and on ballot papers it doesn't even appear. And then yesterday, we saw their new election battlebus, which looks like something Del Boy might have driven in Only Fools and Horses. The slogan on the side looks as if it’s been stencilled on, and it reads ‘FOR REMAIN, VOTE CHANGE’. Think about that for a moment. How does ‘remaining’ imply any form of ‘change’?!
They've produced no memorable social media content, unlike their rival insurgents, The Brexit Party. Change U are paying a maketing consultancy called The & Partnership tens of thousands of pounds. The first thing they did was design the awful barcode logo. By way of contrast, the Brexit Party's social media and marketing is being handled by 19 year old Steven Edginton. I think it's clear who is getting better bang for their buck.
Whatever your views on Brexit, surely anyone can acknowledge that The Brexit Party's PEB, launched on Sunday, is one of the best seen in years.
Nice little video promotion for the Chuka no Change Party. You’ll like it. pic.twitter.com/s08c79Rj45— Liam O'Neil (@lienomail) May 13, 2019
I came across this Change UK spoof video yesterday, and you think, well if an amateur can make a video like this, why can't Change UK do so to promote their own message?
#ChangeUK will not stand idly by whilst others whip up fear, division and hatred in our country - we will challenge them. Make a stand against those who want to divide our country by voting for #ChangeUK on 23rd May #ChangePolitics #ChangeUK #EUelections2019 pic.twitter.com/j75pLP35iq— Change UK - The Independent Group (@ForChange_Now) May 11, 2019
This is their best effort so far, but even this has its amateurish side. It's their Pinned tweet, yet the image you first see is Nigel Farage. And he takes up most of the video. Given Change UK is supposed to be all about Change, it's basically an attack ad. Surely if you want to change the discourse, you need to be about optimism and the sunny uplands?
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May have humiliated Britain.— The Brexit Party (@brexitparty_uk) May 14, 2019
Vote for The Brexit Party on 23rd May. pic.twitter.com/zBiZhkWKyk
You might think, well if the Brexit Party can produce videos like this, why can't the others? Their PPB will have cost quite a bit in production. This one will have cost very little. Anyone who can edit a video could put it together. Surly the other parties have people who can do this?
Thanks to everyone who came to one of our rallies in Nottingham, Norwich and London last week.— Change UK - The Independent Group (@ForChange_Now) May 8, 2019
Our EU election campaign continues, sign up to an event with https://t.co/GhAJP7wfBH #ChangeUK #ChangePolitics pic.twitter.com/Zl1hnOqY1a
The only self generated video on the Change UK Twitter feed over the last week is this one, which is nice and bouncy and is a good way of promoting their rallies. But in 6 days it's only attracted 366 likes and 132 retweets. There are plenty of clips of broadcast interviews with their leading lights, but do they really engage people? I doubt it.
.@CarolineLucas and @MagicMagid deliver a message of hope and the case for voting Green at our #EUElections2019 launch ✊— The Green Party (@TheGreenParty) May 9, 2019
On the 23rd, say yes to Europe and no to climate change ➡️ #VoteGreen2019 🗳️ pic.twitter.com/0ZYbf1rHIi
The Green Party have a much better, more positive Pinned Tweet. And their Twitter feed is generally positive, engaging and colourful.
We're polling ahead of the Tories for the first time ever 😊— The Green Party (@TheGreenParty) May 13, 2019
A new member joins us every 3 minutes 💚
This is what a #GreenWave looks like 🌊🏄♀️🏄♂️
Let's keep it going, #VoteGreen2019 on the 23rd of May 🗳️ pic.twitter.com/1ji852dl4x
They then built on their first video with this simple but effective effort...
When I clicked onto the LibDem Twitter Feed I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their Pinned Tweet video. I may not agree with the narrative, but as a video it had a clear and direct message. But then I looked at the date it was posted - 14 January. Really?! Nothing since then! Incidentally, have a listen to the narrator's voice. Sounds like Heidi Allen!
The only other videos they've posted in the last week are two short attack ads, one on Labour and one on the Tories. Otherwise, nothing. Nada. Not even a Bollocks to Brexit video.
Together, we’ll create real change for the many, not the few. pic.twitter.com/9HxPJPr0Oo— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) May 8, 2019
Labour has a Pinned Tweet video from May 8th, which manages to mention Europe all of once. It's so vacuous as to be meaningless. There is no real message in it, apart from Vote Labour. It's had even fewer Likes than the Change UK video, despite them having 675,000 followers, three times more than Change UK.
They've got quite a few cutesy little simple videos vaguely related to the European election on equality, workers rights and green issues, like the one above, but nothing on Brexit at all. Hardly surprising I suppose in some ways. Still, at least they've made a token effort.
Unlike the Tories. Look on @Conservatives and it's like an episode of Fawlty Towers. Don't mention the Euro Elections. I did, but I think I got away with it. In fact, you'd barely know there were any elections on at all. I've gone back to 2 May and there isn't a single tweet about the elections. Incredible. Lots of tweets about employment, health, the environment, but nothing at all about the European elections. It's as if they've stuck their fingers in their ears and sang 'la la la, I can't hear you'.
So the lesson we've learned is that successful social media campaigns don't require expensive marketing consultancies or a huge amount of age and experience. If the Brexit Party can do it on a low budget and with the expertise of a 19 year old, what's stopping the other parties?