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Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

David Cameron has started vlogging, or video-blogging, or YouTubing, or whatever the heck it’s called these days. It really is a masterstroke. Webcameron is an excellent idea.

It’s certainly caused something of a stir in the blogosphere: James O’Malley rather enjoyed it, I think:

The first thing that struck me about this was why is the Leader of the Opposition, a man who earns £127,000 a year, doing the washing up by hand? Surely he owns a dishwasher? Even the proletariat can afford a dishwasher these days! Surely this little piece to camera wasn’t all stage managed?

The other thing that annoyed me about the video was that there was no pay-off. Having watched a lot of videos on the internet, I was expecting it to all build up to something. I thought towards the end he was going to shout “SHUT THE FUCK UP, KIDS!” Disappointing.

Nathan Nelson is possibly even more cynical:

I use Ecover as I am a left-wing Guardian-reading wooly liberal who thinks he can save the planet by buying Ecover products – presumably, I was supposed to see Dave using Ecover and welcome his to my bosom immediately as a kindred spirit.

And Pal makes an even better point:

Crumbs! Dave nearly does the washing up! His hands don’t get wet – he just waves his green washing up liquid around a bit.

But what none of these blogs mention is that they – just like me – are doing exactly what the Conservatives want. We’re talking about them. Whether we think Webcameron is the best idea since sliced bread, or whether we think it’s carefully crafted and stage managed as to mean nothing, the fact is that it’s generating a Conservative buzz. Looking at the Technorati stats, Conservative Party is being blogged a hell of a lot more than Labour Party, and (so the theory goes) if we’re talking about the Conservatives, we’re probably listening to a little of their policy. And maybe even warming to them a little.

It’s exactly where Labour have gone wrong with Dave the Chameleon. That’s a cute character, which at a glance actually makes you think favourably of the Conservatives. Only people who stick around to listen to the full message get the criticism – and few bother. The Conservatives, on the other hand, give a positive impression at first glance – though arguably fall down on policy. But no-one’s listening by that stage anyway.

Cameron is playing a blinder. And I mean Cameron. This is the land of ‘Brand Cameron’. The Webcameron site has no Conservative branding. This is about selling him, not the party, and it’s working. Labour’s playing catch-up. The longer Blair remains as a drag on the Labour party, the bigger the lead Cameron gets. Gordon Brown, or whoever turns out to be the next Labour leader, needs to pull something pretty spectacular out of the bag if they’re to take on Mr Cameron. The next election could be very interesting.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Nathan Nelson

    12.21, 02/10/2006

Thanks for quoting me. Not quite sure what a Conservative buzz is, but it sounds a bit scary, or maybe like a rather unadventurous haircut.

I don’t agree that it takes listening to the end of Dave the Chameleon to get the message – the chameleon image is pretty self-explanatory. I would concede however that people will turn off Dave the Chameleon, and Dave on his webcam in his kitchen, because they are bored of politicians and political parties in general. Dave has suggested he wants to address that, but to an old cynic like me, he has shot himself in the foot slightly by talking about gaining the trust of the electorate and coming across as honest, and all about the policies, in a painfully stage-managed exercise. Still, all credit to him for trying.

‘Brand Cameron’ is what concerns me – here is an ex-PR guy, he’s all about the image, and his ‘stunts’ in the past (biking in to work with his shoes following him in a Lexus, and jetting to Norway to admire melting glaciers) have shown that there isn’t always the substance behind the image. What’s even worse is that appealing to voters on the basis of Cameron as an individual is moving further towards a worryingly presidential style of politics already being played by Blair, and obfuscating the fact that behind Cameron, there’s still a rather unimpressive Conservative Party who seem to be keeping very quiet and hoping no-one will notice them.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    09.32, 04/10/2006

I agree with you that what Cameron is doing is not a good thing, and leads to poor Presidential-style government, but I do think it’s good tactics, that might well see him elected. And isn’t that the endgame?

Comment from Dave the Chameleon

    19.59, 13/10/2006

Well done Simon, a fine spoof site.

May I just draw your reader’s attention to another excellent one ?


best wishes

Dave the Chameleon

Comment from Nathan

    20.00, 13/10/2006

That is a particularly blatant bit of self promotion by the Chameleon.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    15.29, 14/10/2006

Probably, but I’m enjoying the irony that someone’s trying to promote the site under a post that criticises that very same site. If you’re going to spam, at least spam well.

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