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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Campaigns and (TV production) values....

One of the major themes in the study of contemporary European politics is "democratic deficit" -- basically the idea that there is not enough opportunity for citizens to engage in governance. Of course, elections standout as the basic measure of democratic deficits, and by that measure I am wondering what all the fuss is about. Since I first came to Northern Ireland in September 2003 there have been three major electoral campaigns -- one for seats in the dormant assembly at Stormont, another for seats in the EU assembly, and next Thursday for the UK Parliament as well as local council seats.

During that brief time I have also witnessed the rise and obvious demise of the UK political movement represented by the Independent Party -- UKIP. Although it is still listing candidates in the upcoming election, UKIP is barely registering on the polls and has been almost invisible except for a few minutes it has had on TV for its Party Election Broadcast (each party that qualifies gets five minutes on Channel 4 as well as the BBC). The party made a big splash in the EU elections not many months ago, but has since gone through a period of self-destructive internal feuding that involved its most visible spokesperson (former TV talkshow host and now a member of the European Parliament) Robert Kilroy-Silk. Kilroy has since gone on to form his own party, Veritas, which as suffered as well from the lack of discussion on the EU issue in this election (and from the fact that it's founder/leader has a bit of a problem with his ego that is well documented over the last few years).

Together these parties now form the core of the "euro skeptic" movement in the UK -- a group that seems to fall somewhere to the left of the right-wing nationalist parties and perhaps a bit to the right of the Conservatives. Their poor performance in the current polling is perhaps the result of their open feuding after the EU elections, but it no doubt is also related to the anti-immigration stand taken by the Tories which undercut (through mainstreaming) the real core issue of their movement. Although they (the UKIP in particular) have been claiming strength in certain constituencies, their actual condition is reflected in the major premise of their campaign: that this is in fact a "bogus" election. It will be interesting to see if they survive this election, let alone succeed in electing any of their candidates.

But the real purpose of this post is to suggest a viewing of the five-minute UKIP Party Election Broadcast to those interested in the production values of TV campaign spots. It is actually quite well done and I wouldn't be surprised if it turns into a classic. In contrast (in some ways) and well worth the viewing are the "spoof" campaign spots produced for Channel 4 News. These will probably make a lot more sense to those who live in the UK, but they are worth viewing by anyone interested in media campaigning.
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