The London Green Party today launched it’s main campaign video for the London elections, a stylish black and white little number from the director Rebecca Frayn, screenwriter for the recent biopic of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

See what you think;

 

Commentary

While not the best Green Party broadcast they’ve ever produced (the Green Party tends to set that bar pretty high) this has a certain quality to it. However, it’s worth taking a closer look as the reaction to the video has been decidedly mixed from those who should be its core audience.

The broadcast is an almost direct copy from the ill fated Irish Greens except, while the Irish version was filmed outside and in colour, the London film is set in a dingy basement. The kids may be allowed to play solo football but they aren’t allowed access to daylight. Who wrote this? Joseph Fritzl?

I jest.

 

The look of it

The studio setting and black and white also give the film an artificial quality quite at odds with the clean air, green spaces ethic of the Greens as a whole. I suspect it’s trying to give the whole thing a doomed edge, but its hope that motivates people to take a chance on a smaller party. black and white might have been classy in the eighties, but in the twenty first century it does feel rather dated.

At the end of the day stylistic choices will always be a matter of taste and some have taken against the use of kids, while others have loved that aspect. Personally I’m for any broadcast that doesn’t feature politicians rattling on about five million this and eight billion that. So all power to the children.

I particularly liked the jangley music and dancing although whether the kids chosen look anything like London’s kids is another matter. The decision to film in black and white and inside means that these feel like kids without problems, without ethnicity, without real lives, which inevitably means that many people will see them as middle-class.

The old saying that “the medium is the message” is well worth remembering. These kids are vehicles for a moral message, not the door slamming, spot picking, exam worrying children that many of the viewers will know and love/hate. As such it’s a lot less about free range, organic children than it is about finger waggling. Maybe finger wagging works though.

 

The politics

There are core election themes here like transport, clean air, energy efficiency, jobs, apprenticeships and climate change. strangely there also appear to be some core themes missed out, like the very popular London Living Wage policy. It fails to mention  the fact that London has always elected Greens onto the Assembly and that they have made a difference. Also what’s all this about the countryside?

I rather like the line that the greens are for “more police on the street, on our side and not in our faces” although it’s not a particularly hard approach considering the fact that the police kill people and then tell lies about what happened, or the fact that they are currently embroiled in more than one racism and corruption row.

There’s good generic stuff on a government that creates jobs not cuts, that the weak and poor should not pay for the mistakes of the rich and powerful and that the Greens are for a world where people come before before profit.

The absence of yet more discussion of the Mayoral candidates is welcome, although to actually have no mention of London at all? It’s a brave, and almost certainly mistaken, decision not to mention the Assembly elections, how brilliant London is or any of the specific problems that London faces.

London is not like anywhere else and to fail to recognise the fact risks looking out of touch with its living streets, cut off in a black and white studio.

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8 Comments

  1. Darryl says:

    I wonder how much election broadcasts matter in the London polls? The two regional TV slots (BBC London News/ London Tonight) are the lowest-rated in the country, so they’ll only be seen by a minority of eyeballs.

  2. Tom Chance says:

    Jim, I had nothing to do with this video but I think you’ve missed that they do mention the London Living Wage. Also the broadcast is meant to work both for the London elections and for the nationwide local elections, hence no specific London messages. Couldn’t afford two!

  3. Jim Jepps says:

    Tom: Just rewatched and firstly i’m still very keen on the music and dancing and second you’re right that they mention “imagine a country where everyone gets a living wage” at about 1.50. In my defense it isn’t exactly upfront and center and isn’t a London living wage, but I did miss the reference.

    I think its a serious mistake not to do two because actually it wouldn’t have cost that much and London is a very distinct place. It was done for the last London elections where you had a London cut and a local election cut for example.

    For this one that would mean, say, recording three London specific bits and replacing three other bits with them for the London version. So you could cut out reference to countryside, for example, in favour of something from the London manifesto – on the tube, or the Assembly or whatever. To give it a sense of place without much effort, which I think is a big flaw – although not as big as the black and white / indoors shoot which gives it a dismal feel.

    Darryl: it’s a good point and kind of unknowable. They have some small influence on activists, the political engaged and journalists who in turn influence others. So my guess is the impact is between zero and a tiny bit.

  4. dave says:

    Reading Peter Mandelson’s ‘Third Man’ at the moment. He became comms and campaigns manager after the disastrous ’83 election. He knew the image of the Labour Party had to change for voters to even consider putting their confidence in them. Labour duly turned away from beer and sandwiches and donkey jackets.

    Looks like the Green Party have the opposite problem. They just come across so…middle class! Rather than an ad with kids playing a guilt trip on us voting age adults, why not show how GP policies can help individuals, families and communities in their day-to-day business. Vision is great, but how policies will help in real terms is surely the message you want to get across in a 2minute campaign video?

    • Jim Jepps says:

      A few people have said to me they thought it was guilt tripping. It’s not something that really occurred to me, and I don’t think it goes out of the way to do – although as I’ve been told this four or five times now it’s clearly a bit of a problem.

      I’mm much more focused that it appears to completely out of place and time. It doesn’t feel like a party that lives in your street and shares your concerns, despite some of the excellent policy – the delivery feels, well, arty. The lack of rich colour, fresh air and anything to indicate they might live in London is, I think, a more serious flaw.

      Although the kids *are* quite diverse, it doesn’t look like it because of the way it’s shot. This could have been a great election video but is actually fairly pedestrian (ironically, boom boom)

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