Featuring claims that there are 1.75 million more people in work and 760,000 more businesses since the coalition came to power, the Conservative Party’s first election campaign poster set the tone for its entire platform, featuring the slogan “Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy”.
Since the beginning, the party’s focus has been on warning voters of the ways in which Labour would ruin progress made by the coalition government.
Meanwhile, social and NHS-focused Labour kicked off its campaign with two posters, one with a picture of David Cameron with the slogan “The Tories want to cut spending on public services back to the levels of the 1930’s, when there was no NHS”.
In January, Ed Miliband announced that Labour would focus on local-level engagement to communicate the message, such as through door-to-door campaigning. He said: “We will win this election, not by buying up thousands of poster sites, but by having millions of conversations.”
He has not been the only one to adopt this strategy – as the weeks have gone by the focus across the board has moved to more targeted and local initiatives as the parties have witnessed the power of social media, celebrity and user-generated content on the voting public.
Labour’s Pink Bus and Clegg’s 1,000-mile tour
Led by Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, senior Labour figures toured the country in a pink bus in an effort to “reach out to women” and create a “Domesday Book” of women’s electoral wishes by asking women what they want from a Labour government.
The campaign focused on childcare, family care, equal pay and domestic violence, with Harman insisting it was not “patronising”.
Meanwhile, with less than 48 hours to go until election day, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg set off on a 1,000-mile tour from Land’s End to John O’Groats to take his message, focused on being the “centre ground” in British politics, across the country.
#Milifandom, #Cameronites and Conference Raps
Over recent weeks, parties have seen social media and user-generated content organically drive more engagement than their own campaign efforts.
This was clear when Ed Miliband become a sex symbol after a 17-year-old student started the hashtag #milifandom, creating a Twitter storm expressing adoration for the leader.
Afterwards, young supporters of David Cameron responded with the hash tag #Cameronites, which came from a 21-year-old student and Conservative party supporter.
Meanwhile, a YouTube video titled “Cameron’s Conference Rap”, which turned a Cameron speech into a rap, received over five million views – far more than any video created by the parties.
The climate-focused Green Party tried to tap into this when it posted its “Change the Tune” video on YouTube, which depicts the leaders of the political parties as members of a boy band.
“When every other party – Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP – seems so similar it’s like they’re in a boyband, it’s time to stand for what you believe in, and vote Green,” the party stated on the video which currently has 850,000 views.
Reaching Russell Brand
Recognising the influence of YouTube, Ed Miliband visited comedian Russell Brand at his home for an interview on his online show, The Trews.
After previously saying he would not vote, Brand is now urging voters to choose Labour and posted a video stating: “What I heard Ed Miliband say is that if we speak, he will listen. So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party.”
Pledges carved in stone – literally
With polling only days away, Ed Miliband prompted yet another hashtag, #EdStone, after unveiling a monument on Sunday (3 May), which he had carved with Labour’s election promises in an effort to show the public his pledges will not expire on 8 May.
He suggested the eight-foot stone could be placed in the garden of Number 10.