Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Welsh Assembly election communications overview

I’ve been doing my reviews of electoral communications for a few years now (see an overview of the trends here). We have just over a week to go until the next Assembly election, so here’s my overview of the bumf we’ve had through the door so far.

Lots of people want our vote...

I’m going to use the same marking system as I did back in 2015. Candidates are awarded points for:
~ number of pieces of bumf through the door
~ number of definite promises they make
~ number of ways they offer you to get in touch, not including generic websites
~ number of different candidate photos, with bonus points if they are with the party leader
~ a point for bilingual Welsh/English leaflets
Candidates are dinged points for
~ the number of other people they blame for the mess we're in,
~ number of negative comments about other parties (mud slinging)
~ photos of politicians belonging to other parties
~ meaningless ‘slogan’ promises e.g. ‘I’m going to fight for Welsh jobs’
And new for this year, I’m going to ding for typos because if you can’t be arsed to proofread your leaflet then you should be punished.

This time round I’m going to list them alphabetically by party name.

Party: Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party
Candidate: none (they’re only going for the regional vote)
Points awarded
bumf = 1
promises = 1 (abolish the Welsh Assembly)
contact = 0
candidate photos = n/a
Cymraeg = 0
total = 2
Points deducted
blame = 1 (the Welsh Assembly is at fault for everything, it seems)
mud slinging = 0
photos of opponents = 0
sloganeering = 0
typos = 1 (“A talking supermarket that we didn’t wants and time has shown...)
Verdict: this has all the hallmarks of a lone nutter with a grudge against the Welsh Assembly. One of the comments in the leaflet is ‘What has the Welsh Assembly ever done for us?’ Well, er, kept our NHS true to its ideals and in a related note given us free prescriptions.

Party: Green Party
Candidate: Anthony Slaughter in the constituency and four others on the regional list
Points awarded
bumf =2
promises = 0 (lots of slogans)
contact = 3 (Twitter, Facebook, personal email)
candidate photos =5 (all four regional candidates, including Anthony and a different one of Anthony on the constituency leaflet)
Cymraeg =2 (both leaflets fully bilingual)
total = 12
Points deducted
blame = 0
mud slinging = 0
photos of opponents = 0
sloganeering = The constituency leaflet has 6 things that a “Green voice in the Senedd will fight for” but with no concrete options. There’s another one on the regional leaflet, so 7 slogans in total.
typos = 1 (they medded up their bullet points on the regional leaflet)
Verdict: On a personal level I agree with all their aims, but it feels like wishful thinking. If they had put one concrete idea behind any of their pledges I’d take them more seriously. How are they going to deliver “Sustainable and vibrant communities” for example? What does that even mean?

Party: Labour
Candidate: Vaughan Gething
Points awarded
bumf = 2
promises = 6 (e.g. create 100,000 new apprenticeships, NHS treatments fund, free childcare
contact =6 (Twitter, Facebook, email, mobile number, personal website, real world address)
candidate photos = 5 across the 2 leaflets. One of them is in front of the Grange fish bar. Yeah!
Cymraeg = 0
total = 19
Points deducted
blame = 0
mud slinging = 2 (The Tories are a threat to education and local government services)
photos of opponents = 0
sloganeering = 0
typos = 0 (although some of the text has flowed a bit wrong on one of the leaflets)
Verdict: Vaughan spends a lot of his communication talking about what he has achieved as the Assembly Member for the past term. There’s a big bit bigging up NHS Wales. He also has three local residents endorsing him, which is a nice touch. 17 is the best score Labour have ever achieved in these ratings.

Party: Plaid Cymru
Candidate: Dafydd Trystan Davies (but we also got one for Cardiff Central candidate Glyn Wise)
Points awarded
bumf = 3 (although one is probably a mistake)
promises = 9
contact = All generic so 0 (oof, these are the easy points in this scoring system)
candidate photos = 2 (possible more on the regional leaflet, but it’s unclear)
Cymraeg = 3 – properly bilingual throughout
total = 17
Points deducted
blame = it’s all Labour’s fault, apparently. 1 point.
mud slinging = 5 different pops at Labour
photos of opponents = 0
sloganeering = 4 and lots of promises to “work tirelessly” if elected
typos = 0
Verdict: The leaflets mention how Labour have had 17 years in power “with little to show for it” but neglect to add that a good chunk of that was in coalition with, er, Plaid Cymru. Bit of an omission.

Party: Women’s Equality Party
Candidate: none (regional list only)
Points awarded
bumf = 2
promises = 0
contact = 0 (but they do have English and Welsh hashtags)
candidate photos = 1, possibly? It’s of 4 women, one of whom is wearing a Women’s Equality badge
Cymraeg = 1 (but only just – the Welsh side doesn’t have a photo and looks like an after-thought)
total = 4
Points deducted
blame = 0
mud slinging = 0
photos of opponents = 0
sloganeering = 3, although there is a lot of positive thinking without any substance behind it
typos = 0

Party: UKIP
Candidate: Mohammed Sarul-Islam
Wait, he’s not our candidate. He’s standing in Cardiff Central! DISQUALIFIED!
Can't vote for you
even if I wanted to!

For interest, here’s the promises in Mr Islam’s leaflet:
Introduce locally elected health boards
Introduce university technical colleges to teach vocational trade skills
Reintroduce grammar schools
Cut fees for STEM students
Devolve economic development powers to local councils
Scrap the Severn Bridge tolls

And here are the meaningless unsubstantiated slogans:
Support long-term investment in staff and resources for a better NHS
Treat cancer as a top priority
UKIP will hold the Welsh Government accountable
Bring jobs into the local area

And this statement that isn’t really a promise or anything:
UKIP opposes tax raising powers being devolved to the Assembly without a referendum (they love their referendums)

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