Last week I got an email from the Labour Party proudly telling me about their new “Dave the Chameleon” campaign. I had seen the web site earlier in the day and, like any sane person, I had been appalled by what I saw. So I sent the following email in back to the Party:
I’ve seen the press coverage about this new campaign and I had been looking at the web site earlier today.
Frankly I’m appalled. Is there no level that “New” Labour won’t stoop to? The Labour Party that I used to support would never engage in this kind of negative campaigning.
There is nothing that Cameron can do to persuade me to vote Tory. It’s just not in my nature. However I didn’t vote Labour in 2005 because of a number of Government policies (Iraq was only the biggest) and nothing the Government has done since then has persuaded me that Tony Blair is at all interested in listening winning back my vote.
It was already unlikely that I was going to vote Labour in the council elections next month and stupid stunts like this make me feel that I might never be able to vote Labour again.
I’m a natural Labour supporter. Not supporting you last year was painful for me. You should be worried about losing people like me. But nothing I hear from the party convinces me that you have the slightest interest in my support.
I thought that would be the end of it. I honestly didn’t expect a reply. But this morning I got one. And it’s a long one.
Thank you for your email about the Dave The Chameleon Campaign.
Bearing in mind your comments, I thought it would be useful for me to set out our thinking behind Dave the Chameleon. As a political party we want to engage with the public in new and different ways and we want to engage with the millions of people who are traditionally turned off by politics. Dave the Chameleon has been created with this demand in mind.
The film breaks new ground in political campaigning. We know that traditional campaigning needs to be complemented with a more sophisticated modern approach and we do recognise people are turned off by negativity. Dave the Chameleon is a humorous way of making a serious political point about David Cameron. His creation was inspired by John Prescott’s speech to the Labour Party Spring Conference earlier this year. Dave the Chameleon has a strong message – there is nothing that David Cameron will not do or say to gain popularity; and therefore the only thing which you can be sure of is that he is a Conservative to the core.
We believe Dave the Chameleon is genuinely a new form of political communication and our feedback has shown that many have found it fun to watch, witty and enjoyable. Dave is meant to be an endearing character, which we hope will make people smile when they see Dave cycling through his animated world. But we too hope that voters will also question just what he believes in given the speed at which he changes his views and they will conclude that the only thing you can be sure of about David Cameron is that he is a Tory through and through.
Finally, I wanted to reassure you that we are committed to fighting this and every election to the highest possible standards and the Dave the Chameleon broadcast is only part of our overall strategy. We are campaigning on three key positive messages for the local council elections on 4 May:
- lower council tax under Labour councils
- fighting anti-social behaviour
- good education for all, not just a privileged few.
The Labour government has introduced measures to enable police to crack down on those who make the lives of others a misery, with tough action against persistent anti-social behaviour, new Community Support Officers and neighbourhood policing teams. All over the country Labour councils are using tough new powers to crack down on anti-social behaviour, to tackle fly-tipping, graffiti, abandoned cars and ensure cleaner neighbourhoods. Having voted against new powers to make our neighbourhoods cleaner and safer, David Cameron said that tougher sanctions on the disruptive few who make life a misery for the many is just a ‘gimmick’.
Labour is working hard for our local communities. Combining extra investment in local services with rigorous reform Labour councils are costing less and delivering better services. This year’s council tax increase is the second lowest in over a decade and Labour councils have led the way by delivering both the lowest increases and the lowest average council tax In 2006/07 the average council tax is £957 for Labour councils and £1147 for Conservative councils.
This election is vital to the continued growth and success of the country as a whole.
Thank you once again for your email.
So there you are. They do have policies to fight this election with. It’s just a shame that they haven’t bothered to tell anyone about them. I suppose they were too busy thinking up “new and different ways” to “engage with the millions of people who are traditionally turned off by politics”. Oh, and Dave the Chameleon is “a more sophisticated modern approach”.