The Green Party take to the spotlight in political broadcast
Last week the Green Party literally threw themselves into the spotlight with the release of their party political broadcast for the general election. It begins in the traditional fashion with a spokeswoman for the party stating that the Green Party are a complete alternative to the mainstream political parties in England, Wales and Scotland. Her rhetoric suggests that the disparity between Left and Right Wing politics is increasingly unclear, as well implying with subtle aggression that the leaders of the mainstream political parties form alliances purely to secure their own power. Yet, to fully illustrate this notion a gushing ‘boy band’ sweep across the screen, belting a spoof pop song with the lyrics ‘we’re all the same’. The ‘band’ is a jibe at the Green Party’s opponents, as the band members explicitly resemble David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage (even down to the colours of their shiny ties). The broadcast ends as it begins with the spokeswoman soberly emphasising some of the central points of the Green Party manifesto, reminding electorates to ‘vote Green, for the common good’.
Certainly, the campaign is distinctive and clearly differentiates the Green Party from its competitors, but can it actually rally voters’ support? To find out we surveyed a panel of 100 UK voters to watch the broadcast and tell us their thoughts: What did they like or dislike about the video? What message does the campaign convey about the Green Party and their policies? How does it compare to broadcasts by other political parties?
The campaign had a ‘Marmite effect’ on our panel. Voters were almost polarised, as almost half the panel were ‘lovers’ of the video whilst the majority of others were vehement haters of it.
The members of the panel who claimed they liked the campaign credited it for its passion, commitment and ethos. In an effort to be true to their claim that they are THE ‘alternative’ party, the Green Party have demonstrated this through the controversial nature of their campaign. Respondents argued that, by deviating from the traditional campaign structure and adopting a playful music video format, the Green Party showed how they would not be coerced into ‘banding’ together with other political parties at the expense of their own policies for the sake of ‘harmony’. A large number of the panel discussed the connotations of this message, noting how it suggests that the other parties will say what is necessary to get votes, even if they know they are unable to follow it through. For them, the Green Party video fights against this and warns that they will maintain their values at all costs.
“This is a very convincing advert. It’s full of passion and shows the Green Party’s commitment to their beliefs” (Thomas, 38, Liverpool).
“The bottom line is that it does tell the truth. Voting for all the other parties is exactly the same. They work along side each other. The Green Party are different” (Stephan, 25, Fleet).
Of course the campaign ends not with the simpering tones of the political boy band, but with the party’s most prominent policies – the abolishment of HS2 and university tuition fees and the rejuvenation of the NHS. These policies struck a chord with many of our panel, who claimed that for the first time they felt like a party was concerned with ‘common’ people like them. Certainly, ‘everyday’ people are the main target audience for the campaign. Several respondents commented that by selecting a black female spokeswoman was a potent indicator of how the Green Party cater for all people, including minorities and the under-represented.
“They’re speaking about things that matter to everyday people like me.” (Elizabeth, 32, Sherborne)
“I think having a black female do the introduction and conclusion is also quite poignant because all the other politicians are white, middle-class men.” (Esther, 19, London)
However, the success of the campaign is in the way their policies are balanced with the humour of the spoof itself. The majority of respondents admitted that the video had surprised them and made them laugh, whereas traditional political party broadcasts remain serious. Some respondents felt that the campaign showcased the party’s playful side, demonstrating their humanity and affinity with (yes again) the common people.
“It makes you think more seriously about the shape of political nature, but at the same time have a laugh. It’s really good.” (Max, 23, Hastings)
“It’s a powerful video. Funny, humorous and certainly made me think.” (Sharon, 54, Lancaster)
Moreover, the campaign actively endeavours to bust the myth that a vote for the Green Party is a wasted vote. The spokeswoman states that actually ‘a wasted vote is a vote you don’t believe in’. The impact of this on our panel was obvious, as many of them noted how they had been persuaded to vote for the Green Party on the back of this campaign.
“The message I get from the Green Party is that you should vote for the party you believe in.” (Kyle, 28, Carlisle)
“I was persuaded to vote Green Party within the first 20 seconds.” (Josh, 25, Barnett).
On the other hand, a large number of the panel passionately disliked the campaign video. Their main criticisms regarded the content of the campaign. It was thought that the Green Party had seriously misjudged the nature of party political broadcasts by actively mocking their opponents and turning them into a spoof boy band. Thus, the campaign was seen as distasteful, with many people expressing how it is inappropriate to satirise the election because the ramifications of the votes will be felt by everyone living in the UK.
“I think it’s trivialising the election, which is wrong.” (Gavin, 37, Cardiff)
“It is wrong on every level. I think they’ve missed their target audience and they missed points about what they plan to do.” (Pete, 41, Denbigh)
In addition, many respondents argued that the Green Party’s attempt to show their ‘funny’ side actually negated the party’s chance of being elected. These respondents thought that the campaign made the party look immature, insincere and incapable of leading the nation. Comparisons between the campaign and popular televised talent contest were drawn. Whilst this is clearly the Green Party’s intention, questions were raised about whether this was a sensible comparison to make, as it suggests that politics is merely a show of false narratives that are performed to an audience of disbelieving citizens. In fact, a number of people claimed the campaign was physically difficult to watch because it made them embarrassed and uncomfortable.
“How can they be taken seriously? I thought it was an advert for Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor. They’ve made themselves look like a joke party.” (Greg, 56, Spalding)
“I thought it was embarrassing. It was cringe and awkward to watch. I didn’t like it at all.” (Megan, 18, Leicester)
The genre of the campaign was expected to be subject to at least some controversy, however where the broadcast should never have intended to fall short was in terms of its political content. Unfortunately, many of our panel members thought that it did. The focus of the campaign centred upon the boy band metaphor and consequently many of the Green Party policies were left redundant. Yes they were returned to briefly at the end of the video, but the video itself is a whopping 3 minutes and 30 seconds long, by which time many viewers would have lost interest or even switched channel. Ultimately, the Green Party need to dedicate less time to their satirical joke and more time to explaining their politics. Mocking their competitors might cost them votes, but it won’t necessarily gain the Green Party any.
“It’s not informing the electorates s of the policies of the Green Party and what they could do for the constituents”. (John, 40, Belvedere)
“I think politics needs to be kept above the table on a policy basis, not a cheap song and a dance because people won’t listen to the words, they’ll just laugh at the funny dance moves.” (Will, 22, London)
Political party broadcasts are always going to divide viewers. They are controversial and prophetic by nature and this latest campaign by the Green Party is no exception. For some, the campaign was a fantastic and witty demonstration of the Green Party’s position in the political sphere, but for others it seemed to highlight the unlikelihood of their leadership. Regardless of the panel members’ political standpoint, the Green Party could benefit from dedicating more time to explaining their policies in greater detail in future campaigns. This would help them prove their sincerity to those who are sceptics of their policies, which would ultimate result in more votes. Nevertheless, the campaign certainly is memorable and has firmly reminded everyone that the Green Party is going to fight for recognition in the coming election.
Watch the full video from the Green Party below: