Labour presentation handout


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A handout to accompany a presentation I gave on the Political Maketing of the Irish Labour Party for the 2007 General Election

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Labour presentation handout

  1. 1. Christopher Mehigan · MA Public Affairs & Political Communication · April 12, 2010 · Pg 1 of 3 Political Marketing Labour Party 2007 General Election Background to 2007 Strategy and Campaign 2002 election performance was poor. The critical decision for Labour Party strategists was whether to Candidate Selection The Labour Party adopted a more centralised a t t e m p t a n a g g re s s i v e s t r a t e g y o f m a r k e t candidate selection process through the Labour development by appealing beyond its existing base to Party’s Organisational Subcommittee (OSC). The challenge either the market leader (Fianna Fáil) or to OSC would recommend the number of candidates for challenge its main rival for the role of challenger (Fine selection at a convention. In addition the OSC Gael). The other option, which it chose, was the more Chairperson and Party Leader could also add conservative strategy of seeking greater market candidates to the ticket once the election was called. penetration. This occurred in Dublin South where Aidan Culhane The party strategists calculated that the potential of won the selection at convention, but Alex White was its existing policies had not been exhausted and nonetheless added to the ticket. judged that better vote management through a formal Working with the OSC, Labour established a pact with Fine Gael would maximise support. This committee led by Dick Spring in 2005 to devise a was in direct contrast to the 2002 strategy when it candidate strategy. The committee recommended adopted a more independent line and viewed formal one-candidate tickets in most cases with exceptions alliances as problematic. Labour strategists felt this in seven constituencies where two candidates were new strategy reflected voters assessment that in run in each. Notably this was the first time that practice there was no choice but Fianna Fáil Labour ran candidates in every constituency since Before 2004 local elections, Pat Rabbitte had 1969. This had been attempted in 2002 but was not approved a vote transfer pact with Fine Gael and this successful due to lack of suitable candidates. was extended in the ‘Mullingar Accord’ in 2005. The Notably none of the sitting Labour TD’s were strategy was formulated to emphasise a clear challenged. electable alternative to Fianna Fáil. Labour Candidates in terms of Political Experience 20 15 10 5 0 TD Senator Councillor Electoral Experience New
  2. 2. Christopher Mehigan · MA Public Affairs & Political Communication · April 12, 2010 · Pg 2 of 3 This conservative approach to candidate selection communicating the vision, goals and responsibilities evidenced by not challenging any of the sitting TD’s is of the campaign. further reflected in the breakdown of the political Particular effort was made to win the backing of party experience of the Labour Party candidates. Only 5 members and to build a plan for realistic and out of the 50 candidates were new to the process. 40 proportionate gains and risk-sharing. Labour of the candidates were either sitting TD’s, Senators or presented the strategy internally as a vehicle for local Councillors. achieving more of its objectives, as it was the author Communication Objectives of more of the policies in the agreed programme and Steps taken to outline a shared vision as well as clear its ranks contained more senior political figures with goals and responsibilities for the new alliance. In a ministerial experience - an important asset when subsequent review of the media coverage of the competence was being stressed. For its traditional election campaign it emerged that Fine Gael Leader supporters it characterised the strategy as ensuring a Enda Kenny, and the Labour Party Leader Pat framework for a centre-left government to replace the Rabbitte were almost identical in terms of time and centre-right one in place. effort invested in each topic. This shows that both Messaging was consistent, clear, and concise. Focus parties were consistently on message in was on the qualities and experience of the Labour party and their candidates more so than particular policies. Labour was presented as a key element in a Media Coverage of 2007 Election Campaign change of government. 80% 9% 8% Campaign Analysis Campaign Characteristics 14% 14% 60% 1. No substantial revision of policies, relied instead on existing policies. 9% 7% 2. Conservative candidate selection, although more 12% 8% far reaching than previously. 40% 26% 3. Focus on communicating an elective alternative to 23% government. 4. Convincing public this is the right choice. 20% Applying the Lees Marshment theory of political 11% 12% marketing to this leads us to conclude that the political campaign best describes that of a Sales 0% Oriented Party. According to Lees Marshment the Enda Kenny Pat Rabbitte characteristics of a political marketing campaign run by a Sales Oriented Party include: Economy Health Education Crime Tax Housing
  3. 3. Christopher Mehigan · MA Public Affairs & Political Communication · April 12, 2010 · Pg 3 of 3 • Attempt to persuade voters by using market communication. 2007 Result Unfortunately for Labour, the strategy of teaming with • Focus on selling, using hard persuasive techniques Fine Gael appeared to benefit Fine Gael more so than that may mask weakness or problem areas. (Such Labour. as the incompatibility of conflicting FG / Lab policies) Labour’s Performance • Try to make the voters want it, and what it offers, Much the same as the previous elections of the past rather than change its behaviour to suit what the 30 years. voters want. (Didn’t change, but tried to make Over the ten elections during the period 1977-2007, voters opt for an alternative government to FF) Labour’s vote fell outside the 9-12 per cent band (and • Research for advertisement and message its seats outside the band of 15 - 21, only twice. In generation, but not product (candidate or policy) 1987 it plunged to 6% of the vote, reducing seats to design. (Conservative candidate selection, no 12, and in 1992 it raised the vote share to 19 per cent substantive policy reform) and won 33 seats. The remarkable stability suggests a party that has found its level within the party % Change Seats Change system, or, some would say, is stuck in a rut. vote since since 2002 2002 Upon taking over as leader in the late summer of Fianna Fáil 41.6% +0.1% 77 -4 2007, Eamon Gilmore emphasised continuity of Fine Gael 27.3% +4.8% 51 +20 philosophy, improved organisation and better Labour 10.1% -0.6% 20 0 presentation of Labour’s existing values and policies rather than a more fundamental reassessment. Green Party 4.7% +0.8% 6 0 Sinn Féin 6.9% +0.4% 4 -1 Labours performance was neither bad enough to prompt a root and branch self examination nor good Prog. 2.7% -1.2% 2 -6 Democrats enough to lift it into the top division. Others 6.7% -4.3% 5 -8 Total 100.0% 0 165 0 Labour Party Performance 1977 - 2007 33 19.5% 20 20 16 16 17 15 15 15 11.6% 12 9.9% 10.4% 10.8% 10.1% 9.1% 9.4% 9.5% 6.5% 1977 1981 1982 (Feb) 1982 (Nov) 1987 1989 1992 1997 2002 2007 Vote Share Seats