Ed Miliband should take pointers from Hollande on staying young
The French presidential elections in May saw Francois Hollande beat Nicolas Sarkozy in close fought race. The winning margin just 3.4% in the second round. Recent polls and analysis suggest the 2015 UK election may be strikingly similar, so just what lessons can be leant from the Parti Socialiste and their successful election campaign?
As the party in Opposition, Labour stand to benefit most from implementing the tactics of the Parti Socialiste. The main lesson to be taken is to target the voters disaffected with politics.
The tactics used by team Hollande were simple; meet a diverse range of the electorate, listen to concerns/points of view, enlist a good marketing team, and don’t try too hard!
Hollande travelled to some of the poorer regions of France and spoke with a diverse range of the local population. At a time when these poorer regions are feeling abandoned and forgotten, and politicians are seen as the enemy, campaign trips proved hugely successful. Hollande didn’t just turn up and give a carefully constructed speech, he took the opportunity to listen to the concerns of a nation.
Like Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron is often criticised for being out of touch with the population. Sarkozy was disliked in France for who he was, the expensive lifestyle he maintained and his unashamed arrogance. Similarly David Cameron is disliked for who he is, the tax breaks for the rich, granny/pasty taxes, and the blatant disregard for the working class. Ed Miliband has a chance to come to the fore and give members of society a voice. As shown by Hollande in France, being a man of the people would allow him to finally be taken seriously by the public as a strong candidate for PM.
Another key area of success for Hollande was his advertising campaign . Although the advert is in French (understandably), the choice of song, the way in which it is edited, the diverse range of people who feature, and the focus on voting cards is clear for all to see.
Kanye West may not be to everyones taste, however it will resonate with a large proportion of the youth vote. The editing style is very current and popular, and it works to engage the watching audience. Once engaged, it is clear that there is an emphasis on the voting cards, and that no matter who you are, where you come from, what ethnic background you may have, Francois Hollande is the man of the moment and the man who should receive your vote.
Despite the choice of music and style of edit, Mr Hollande does not pretend to be something he is not. There is nothing worse than someone trying to be ‘down with the kids’, and to see someone who wants to be president, or in our case prime minister, try to be ‘cool’ would destroy any chance of victory. Although it would be very British for Ed Miliband to don a William-Hague-style baseball cap and embarrass himself hugely, it is ill-advised. Enlisting the help of a good marketing team to create an advert similar to Hollande’s would go a long way to engaging a generation that currently feel alienated from politics.
The current government are constantly chastised for a series of mistakes; Jeremy Hunt and his News International friends, Nick Clegg and his broken promises, Liam Fox’s resignation, Theresa May’s catalogue of errors, Vince Cable’s inability to keep his thoughts to himself, Michael Gove’s love of 1960′s education, Andrew Lansley’s dismantling of the NHS, and of course Gideon’s questionable economic pedigree. While the media have a feeding frenzy over the haphazard members of the coalition, Labour have a chance to retake their position as the party of the people.
If Ed Miliband can break the view that ‘all politicians are the same, they are all as bad as each other’, and engage the youth vote then he will race to victory come 2015. There doesn’t need to be a pledge signed, or any unattainable policies drawn up, just a concerted effort to make the 18-24 year olds understand that they have a place in politics and that their voices and opinions are being heard.
The message is clear, stand with us Ed, and we will stand with you.