New government measures proposed yesterday will mean political parties and campaigners must explicitly show who they are when promoting campaign content online, and according to surveys this has overwhelming public support. The proposals call for digital imprints to apply to all types of campaign content regardless of the country it is being promoted from, across all digital platforms. The regime is also intended to apply at all times, not just during elections.
The editor will declare an interest here, he has since 2007 had a financial interest in a digital advertising agency that has worked for all the major parties at one time or another; unions, charities, single-issue campaigns and blue-chip corporates who want to influence politicos. He’s been involved in the digital side of referendum campaigns, two mayoral campaigns for a chap who went on to greater things and election campaigns around the world. Having bought and sold countless billions of political adverts for over a decade, here are some observations about the government’s proposals to make political advertising more transparent:
Political advertising increases voter turnout, spreads new ideas and adds to democratic engagement. It is an important contributor to the democratic process and is to be preferred to behind the scenes lobbying done without any public knowledge. The thing about advertising is that it is done in public and is inherently an open form of political communication.
However, just as little could be done to stop Moscow gold reaching the Morning Star for decades, realistically nothing in the proposals will prevent foreign powers slush funding front groups with laundered money. Should we worry too much? You can’t really “buy an election” with adverts, because people exercise their own judgment, advertising doesn’t control people, it highlights issues and ideas, it calls voters to action. Advertising will not polish a t**d, it just covers it in glitter…
Left-wingers are taking pops at flip flop Starmer’s new digital content output. With Jeremy Corbyn’s team departing, the Labour Party’s graphical prowess has fallen sharply back, and the commentariat has noticed. A social media expert tells Guido that even if they were going for ‘hate shares‘, the tactic won’t work with a complicated message…
Is this really the level of Labour's social media fight back? Rishi Sunak's social media machine is way head, this is clunky to look at and not sure it even makes sense. https://t.co/UEY8dyMqxt— Kate Proctor (@Kate_M_Proctor) July 8, 2020
the digital comms output from labour at the moment has been really poor. as well as graphics like this, there is nothing on our instagram story about what’s going on today - unlike the tories. https://t.co/592gJsTcmo— Abby Tomlinson (@twcuddleston) July 8, 2020
This is Change UK level bad. https://t.co/lGWMQLKNGS— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) July 8, 2020
I know Labour are doing solid & sensible these days, but not quite sure that should extend to quite this level of dull... https://t.co/M0R2niBx59— Emma Burnell (@EmmaBurnell_) July 8, 2020
Compared to even Rishi Sunak’s personal branding, Labour’s national effort is now widely considered to be sub-par. Senior Tories have got in touch with Guido to point to gloat, yet they shouldn’t count their chickens. Thankfully for Labour, they can often rely on the BBC’s social media department to make their propaganda for them…
Matt Hancock calls app Britain pic.twitter.com/QZW4QJxDeC
— Media Guido (@MediaGuido) February 1, 2018
They may have the Silicon chip but we have the Silicon chap: Matt Hancock. The Culture Secretary is calling app Britain – he has created a new social network where fans can keep up with his every move. It’s basically Facebook, but just Matt Hancock’s feed. Anyway, the internet is loving it:
Once in a while, you come across an app for your phone that you know is going to make your life better in every possible way. pic.twitter.com/8wxMJts4go
— Robert Hutton (@RobDotHutton) February 1, 2018
Deleted Tinder to make room for the Matt Hancock MP app.
— Helena Horton (@horton_official) February 1, 2018
I actually met my girlfriend on the Matt Hancock app but we tell people we met at a bar pic.twitter.com/aTssSNuCyG
— Rob Fuller (@robfuller91) February 1, 2018
anyone who fancies beers tonight, Matt Hancock me
— Alan White (@aljwhite) February 1, 2018
It’s trending on Twitter, but who uses that anymore?
Last week Guido expressed his admiration for Liz Truss’ social media makeover, as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury spoiled us with shareable content about onions. Liz is on great form today, telling us on Instagram that vape shops and vegan burger bars are “modern pioneers of British freedom”, and that “My values are set on a pro-freedom default. I don’t like being told what to do”.
No one should ever tell you what to do, Liz.