I’m trying to find some kind soul out there who subscribes to the Economist Magazine. It seems that I got quoted in this article about campaign paraphenalia in their April 28th issue.
However, I can’t read the web version because one has to subscribe to the magazine first to read it. So…if any of you kind readers out there already have a subscription and wouldn’t mind helping the Schädelmann out with a free look or something so I can read it, that would be cool.
AND…if you help me, I’ll reward you with…a free song from the Apple iTunes store as a thank-you.
I had spoken with their reporter a while back but hadn’t had a chance to track down a print issue before the local newsstand ran out.
I was not really sure if they’d even use my quote, until I heard about it from my friend Dr. O’Sullivan, a Fulbright Scholar in Amman, Jordan, who happened to read it and was quite surprised to see my name in print in that particular magazine.
All for the greater glory of my ego, I know. But it was some much-needed good news after what was kind of a crappy week.
UPDATE! My good friend Mark Rutherford, a subscriber to The Economist gave me a copy of the article, which I will reprint here for you…Thanks Mark!
Apr 28th 2005
Why political accessories are changing
IN GENERAL elections past, the political temperature of a British street could be taken by looking at the windows. Candidates’ posters–blue for the Conservatives, red for Labour, orange for the Liberal Democrats–marked the positions of rival camps more precisely than any voter database. But allegiances are less obvious this year. Particularly in Labour-held areas, there is often little sign that an
election is about to take place.
“People don’t want to parade their political preferences any more,” says David Heyes, who is defending his seat in Ashton-under-Lyne. Political cynicism, unmoving opinion polls and flaccid national campaigns are partly to blame for the lack of colour in the constituencies. But a bigger reason is that the focus of campaigning
has moved from the street to the telephone and the letterbox.
Better data management by the major parties means that potential voters can be identified and targeted more accurately than in the past, and from a greater distance. Printing is cheaper and faster; more importantly, digital presses can run off messages aimed at specific voters. The results can appear devious. Humphrey Malins, a Conservative candidate in Surrey, produced one leaflet, in English and Urdu, that touted his record of helping with visas. But another leaflet advertised the party’s tough anti-immigrant line. “My local literature is intended to be very local,” Mr Malins explained.
Like so many political innovations, this is an American import. Greg Dewar, a political marketing consultant who has worked for several Democratic candidates, says that direct mail has become the best way of communicating with voters–a lesson that, as he admits, Republicans have learned especially well. The effect on old-style political paraphernalia has been the same as in Britain. As American campaigns have gone postal (and, much more tentatively, online), buttons and lawn
signs have disappeared.
Oddly, one traditional tool has survived the winnowing: the campaign balloon. Labour candidates, in particular, can often be found lurking outside school gates handing out balloons and “Dear Parent” letters to children. Lawrie Quinn, who is campaigning in Scarborough and Whitby, remembers organising only two such events during the 2001 election campaign. He has done 14 so far this year, and makes sure always to carry a few spare balloons in his back pocket, just in case. The idea is to reach young women–some of the main beneficiaries of Labour largesse, but also some of the greatest gripers against Tony Blair–through their less politically jaded offspring.
Such is the theory, anyway. At a recent school-gate event in Putney, a west London constituency, children were delighted to accept helium-filled propaganda. But the warmth of the day meant that the little nippers got only a few yards before a bang and a howl of anguish announced the beginnings of political discontent.
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