Labour’s party political broadcast fails on all accounts and undermines the party’s position on key issues, argues Marketing Secretary William Baxter
It’s party political broadcast season again, and if like me you’ve been anticipating this more than your next Netflix binge, Labour’s opener is sure to get you pumped for the next few weeks. This short film features everything that could possibly be wrong with a British party broadcast.
Set in a school, the opening is promising. Before any dialogue, it is good to see that Labour are taking the fight to the Tories in a battleground the party are comfortable in. Some tense music plays over the action – if a single tune could convey the fear of budget cuts then surely it is this frightening melody. An unspoken fear grips the actors in the room – is Theresa May waiting behind the door to swoop in and steal the children’s lunch money?
Unfortunately, this is roughly where any positives about the advert stop. It’s immediately clear just how quickly and cheaply this advert was produced – if it were any cheaper there would surely be a battery indicator in the bottom corner, with interruptions as the cameraman sneezed.
No matter – I’m sure party members are pleased that their subs are being spent where it matters instead of making glitzy promo vids. A child asks the teacher the first question – ‘Miss, why didn’t we go to the library today?’ The answer: because the school doesn’t have a library any more. Thanks Tories.
Now, without meaning to belittle the very real problem of school funding, I can’t help but find this a little ridiculous. Firstly, we have to presume that the school’s library wasn’t just taken overnight, with Groundskeeper Willie towing away the building on a tractor. Secondly, surely there was a more subtle way of writing this script? The student does a classic ‘why?’ (might as well be ‘are we there yet?’) to give the teacher a chance to explain the risk the Tories present for schools. Already, ten seconds in, the viewer is faced with the very real possibility that the advert really will just be a sequence of child asks basic question, teacher illustrates why Conservative policy harms them.
Following this is more incredibly clunky dialogue. It’s clear that whoever wrote this has never been in school, has never met a teacher, or indeed ever was a child. The vomit inducing collective ‘aww’ at the prospect of no more ‘school visits’ (surely they mean trips, right?) shows the weaknesses of the admittedly young cast. Certain members look embarrassed to be involved with the production, and frankly who can blame them. This may be an acting choice they have to defend on The Graham Norton Show in twenty years after being nominated for a BAFTA.
Around halfway through the clip comes the real crime. Poor production, poor scripting and poor acting can all be forgiven in a party political broadcast, as no-one’s watching these for fun. All that matters is accuracy and information. Unfortunately, Labour has here committed the greatest sin any ad focusing on education policy could: confusing ‘less’ with ‘fewer’. If this spot was deliberately written to fuel Daily Mail comment sections, it couldn’t have done any better.
Buried amongst these issues are the policies Labour is running with for the election – no more cuts to school budgets, a guarantee on smaller class sizes, and free school dinners for all children at primary school. Good policies, delivered astronomically badly. In what world would a teacher explain this all to a class of primary school children, all of whom look younger than ten? It’s nearly as uncomfortable as Donald Trump’s Easter egg hunt rally.
‘Can the Labour party do that?’ asks The Guardian’s youngest reporter towards the end of the clip, echoing the thoughts of many of the party’s own MPs. Of course, a party political broadcast wouldn’t be a party political broadcast without a fourth-wall break, which comes in the form of Labour’s policies for childcare, apprenticeships and adult education. While stronger than the question and answer format earlier in the video, this does feel like an afterthought, with three policies landing in less than twenty seconds.
Labour’s party political broadcast feels like a real missed opportunity. By that, I mean that they really had a chance to deliver one of their strongest areas of policy in a creative yet informative way, as well as making ‘that boring bit after the news’ something more than just a chance to put the kettle on before the One Show. They won the race to get the video out first, but all they’ve done is set a very low benchmark for the other parties to respond to.
Overall, a weak effort that does the party no favours. 3/10, see me after class.