[Image courtesy of Avaaz at Flickr Creative Commons]
It’s easy to be wise after the event. And when the event is as earth-shattering as last week’s UK general election result, a lot of people wise up very quickly indeed. Because they have to.
After all, if you’re a political commentator and you didn’t see this coming, then why should anybody believe what you say about what’s still to come?
So history is being rewritten very rapidly.
It was common knowledge, said one journalist in an online article, that Theresa May’s ex-advisors, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, were rude, controlling and secretive. Which prompted one below-the-line commenter to ask why the journo had never mentioned it before.
The question was politely ignored.
As it happens, several weeks ago I was chatting with a friend and casually raised the possibility that Theresa might lose her bet.
“Can you imagine how gutted she’ll be? Going to the country when she didn’t have to, then crashing and burning?”
That was never going to happen, my friend countered. Yes, the public opinion polls were showing a tightening gap, but then look at last year (Brexit, Trump) and the year before (UK general election). Wrong, wrong and wrong again.
Plus, private polling by Tories showed that they were still well ahead (as if that wasn’t subject to the same problem). But I had to admit that my friend probably had a point, so we moved on and I thought no more of it.
And if I was proved right, it’s less because I’m a clairvoyant and more because I’m a natural catastrophiser – which you may remember is one of the cognitive traps I spoke about a few posts ago.
All election campaigns are actually marketing campaigns nowadays. It’s all about image, airtime, soundbites and slogans that stick.
I think there are several valuable lessons that can be learned by marketers from the mistakes of the Conservatives’ approach:
It’s early days yet, and the calamitous election campaign by the Conservatives has only just begun to be picked apart by analysts and political wonks. Over time, the big fault lines that we already know about will be traced back to the hairline cracks that were barely visible in April.
No doubt we’ll be told that it was all perfectly predictable, and that it was a disaster waiting to happen. Then again, I could have told you that.
Though at least I’d have been the first to admit it was an uneducated guess. Which, with classic dumb luck, turned out to be true.
Maybe I should set myself up as a political pundit.