Who has risen? Who has fallen? Who are the new entries?
The video playlist that matters for voters in Cambridge is here. At the time of posting, there were 38 videos (up from 20 last week) covering four political parties that are standing full slates of candidates:
- Cambridge Conservatives – http://cambridgeconservatives.org.uk/
- Cambridge Green Party – https://cambridge.greenparty.org.uk/
- Cambridge Labour Party – http://www.cambridgelabour.org.uk/
- Cambridge Liberal Democrats – http://www.cambridgelibdems.org.uk/
- (Note Cambridgeshire UKIP are standing a few candidates too)
So, still at the top is Labour’s Sophie Barnett, standing in Romsey ward, Cambridge.
- Sophie Barnett of Romsey Labour Party, with 124 views
- Manas Deb of Cambridge Conservatives with 78 views
- Sharon Kaur of Cambridge Greens, with 69 views
- Rosie Moore of Coleridge Labour Party, with 64 views
- Rob Grayson of South Cambs Labour with 61 views
For interviews, the tables look like this:
- Sharon Kaur of Cambridge Greens, with 96 views
- Dave Baigent of Cambridge Labour, with 80 views in total
- Shahida Rahman of Cambridge Lib Dems with 64 views
Total number of local council candidates featured are as follows:
- Cambridge Green Party: 8/14
- Cambridge Liberal Democrats: 4/14
- Cambridge Labour: 3/14
- Cambridge Conservatives: 2/14
- South Cambridgeshire Labour: 2/14
(The above goes not include Police and Crime Commissioner elections)
Rob Grayston and Mike Nettleton of South Cambridgeshire Labour got in touch over the weekend to arrange a recording of a handful of videos – see the playlist here. Rob has stormed into the top 5 with over 60 views in about six hours! Also storming in as a new entry is Conservative candidate for Queen Edith’s, Manas Deb, who like is colleague in Newnham, Julius Carrington, is fighting to win rather than being a ‘paper candidate’. We’ve also seen two additional videos from Cambridge Liberal Democrats – Nicky Shepherd in Abbey and Lucy Nethsingha in Newnham.
My target ideally is to have at least four videos per political party standing full slates of candidates – ie more than 20% of candidates. That’s enough people from within each local party to make the case for, or at least talk about their experiences of being in front of camera.
The Queen Edith’s hustings on 21 April 2016
On Sunday afternoon the table of views were as above. I also storified a few of my tweets here – noting the proportion of people who had either changed their minds on who they intended to vote for after hearing from all of the candidates (20%), and those who did not know who they were going to vote for but made up their minds after hearing from everyone (25%).
Again, there seems to be a pattern with who chooses to have a video message or a video interview recorded. Variables that seem to increase the likelihood a candidate will record a video include:
- Age – the younger the more likely to want a video made
- Gender – women are more likely to want a video made
- New candidate or repeat candidate – new candidates are more likely to want a video made
- Incumbency – challengers to an incumbent are more likely to want a video made, while incumbents are less likely to want a video made.
- Ethnic background – people from non-White British backgrounds or mixed backgrounds are more likely to want a video made.
“Have we reached critical mass stage with videos?”
Not yet. That said, nearly all of the candidates who have had videos made now seem to be advocates in favour of using video as part of their campaign. Indeed, a number of candidates are featured more than once as a result of proactively getting in touch and making it easy for me to do the filming – e.g. picking me up by car to take me to the place they want to film. (My convention is that candidates should be filmed in or close to the ward or area that they are standing in).
***Lots of free publicity***
One of the other things that happens when you make videos and upload them to Youtube or Vimeo is that other people and organisations can embed them into their websites. The Cambridge News did this with the Queen Edith Forum hustings – resulting in a higher than expected hit count.
Furthermore, if I look at the length of viewing time statistics for the past week up to 22 April (so not including the weekend just gone), Cllr Dave Baigent’s speech in Warboys has had ***nearly three hours*** of footage viewed in seven days. This was for an eight minute speech. Manas Deb’s interview has had over two hours, and Shahida Rahman’s interview, over an hour. Even if it’s only their supporters watching, having a video ‘out there’ is surely a morale booster in itself. Because it takes courage to stand for election – especially in the face of the brickbats we see all too often thrown over social media. (That’s why I turn the comments off with YouTube – life’s too short for me to moderate the comments!)
“Don’t some of the videos look/feel a bit rough around the edges? Scripted even?”
For the election messages themselves, to give everyone a fair shot I’ve kept the format dead simple:
- Party you’re standing for
- Ward you are standing in
- Local authority elections you are taking part in
- The date of the election
This is then followed by up to 3 reasons why you are standing for election &/or local issues you want to take on, and a final message saying ‘Please vote for me on [date]”.
For most time-pressed citizens, in the grand scheme of things that is all they need to see and hear in order to make a judgement on who they are going to vote for. That can all be done – as Sophie Barnett proved, in under 30 seconds. If people want to hear more detail about something local, that’s what the interviews that I’ve recorded are for.
I think it’s also important to demonstrate to voters that it’s OK to make rough-and-ready short videos. Slick, professionally made videos take a huge amount of time and effort to produce. A five minute medley video with music in the background will take me a day to film and at least a further day of editing. At a local democracy level most people simply do not have the time, the money or the skills to make something like that. Also, if it’s too slick then you risk creating a distance between you and the voter – the ‘professional politician.’ At this level of local democracy, my hunch is that most people want to feel that candidates are people like them, who feel the same sorts of day-to-day pressures that people in the community feel, rather than a parachuted in A-lister superstar type from a party list taken from an exclusive wing of a national party.
A hustings in South Cambridgeshire?
One’s being lined up at the last minute in the area Rob and Mike are in – which is on the southern border of Cambridge City where lots of housing building is happening. Hence it should be a very interesting one given the issues as well as some of the relatively new faces on the local politics scene there. I’ll keep you posted. Details of further hustings/public debates in Cambridge are at the end of the Cambridge News article here – mainly on the north/west side of the river. (Which, given the poor transport links to that side of town is like ‘abroad’ for me!)
Can you really get a feel for who is going to win from a hustings or social media alone?
No – and I don’t think that’ll ever be the case. The biggest common factors for me are the frequency at which activists do door-to-door campaigning, and the performance of the party they are members of at a national level. Furthermore, young people were again conspicuous by their absence at the hustings in the Queen Edith’s ward – despite the local schools and colleges being informed. Is the next step to organise events inside such organisations and give them the expectation that they will publicise the events and invite their pupils/students along?
The other thing is that the conversion rate from new members to attending meetings to activist to candidate is an extremely low one. I have heard various numbers measured in hundreds in terms of new members joining local political parties in the last year. Yet if (in Cambridge at least) we compare it to the number of new faces standing as candidates, it doesn’t initially seem to reflect this surge.
“Post the elections, is there something that Cambridge as a city can do to encourage more people to get to the place where they feel they might want to stand for election?”
This is certainly something I would like to explore in the future – perhaps seeking a commissioned academic study or inviting for example students and young people to talk about their experiences of engaging with political parties. Or even finding out from people who used to be part of political parties or campaign groups what their reasons for leaving were, and what they moved onto afterwards.