Asset sales. Nobody likes them (except the few elites who stand to gain from them) which means stopping asset sale is a good thing right? Right. Unless you decide to go about doing so in a way that potentially infringes on traffic law and on electoral law.
Which is pretty much what the goffice has done.
Now I could write a post about how stupid and amateur it was to take guaranteed points on the board and turn it into a black eye, but I think that’s been covered from the left to the far right already.
Because even if you put the godawful execution of the campaign to one side (and I am putting it to one side) the problem with this campaign it is that it is hermetic. There’s nothing about “stop asset sales” that references back to any prior campaign or to any overarching message – no language signals no brand signals. Even if they had pulled the campaign off perfectly it wouldn’t add a great deal to any ongoing narrative or easily roll momentum into the next issue-based campaign. Which means right from the get-go its return on investment is limited.
That’s the real loss; the egg-on-face of poor execution only has a news-cycle lifetime. And it was a loss that was built in from the start. Which is a shame because there are some very simple stories that connect asset sales to service cuts to wage stagnation to increasing unemployment – it’s just nothing of that bigger story is captured in the “stop asset sales” campaign to start with. If it had a few silly technical mistakes wouldn’t have made much difference.
Labour’s problem isn’t just that they don’t seem to understand this slow narrative building technique but that the tories do. They know it all too well because they learned it the hard way – by doing nine years in the wilderness and by sticking to their guns with their messaging from 2004 until they got their hands on the government benches. Make no mistake that was a four year campaign.
And because National is hardwired to this oppositional mode they’ve not found it hard to take the ever growing pile of Labour’s small executional failures and use it to create a narrative of labour as incompetent. As in not fit to govern. Despite all the good policy ideas labour has and the competent management labour showed last time it was in government.
National knows this is a good story for them because they know that nobody wants to associate themselves with incompetence no matter how well-meaning the incompetent party is or how unwell-meaning their opponent is. And remember – voting is association.
Update: I’ve been told the signs are authorised so withdraw criticism on that point.