England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

Election gogglebox: a review of the party political broadcasts


Photo Credit: gywst via Compfight cc

While my colleagues had the pleasure of reading and digesting the manifestos, I got the enviable task of reviewing the party political broadcasts.I’ve tried to stay party and policy neutral and just concentrate on cinematographic and entertainment values of these vids.   And what a fine collection of videos it is. Almost as exciting as watching not-quite-safe-for-work videos of young pop stars gallivanting about with construction equipment.

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In alphabetical order… with marks out of 10.


Awwww….babies, more babies, ducks, a dog, soft focus. Very, very soft focus. Then kids of all ages behaving well doing ‘normal stuff’ and even the teenagers don’t look surly. A voiceover of parents sharing their aspirations for their offspring with a text overlay of how the Conservative Party proposes to help them achieve it. Finishes with David Cameron as a parent ‘just like you’ watching kids (presumably his son among them, otherwise it’s creeeepy) playing football in a damp field on a grey day, without the PM shivering, looking cold and miserable, taking sneaky sips from a flask or shouting abuse at the ref. Not so typical then….

I give this 6 adorable toddlers out of ten.


OK, this pop video spoof is truly awful, but it’s knowingly awful.  “Clever lyrics” and tortured rhymes sung by the ‘boy band’ of the Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP lads’ brigade with ‘look-a-like’ leaders that don’t look so much like the actual guys. (Some of the leaders are luckier than others. I’m looking at you Ed, or rather, preferably, your double.) Great production values and choreography – particularly the dance of austerity which is ironically performed  worshipfully around a great golden glowing pound sign.

The subtlety of the gender politics was so suave it hit you like the fifth jaeger bomb on a sweltering Ibiza night.  The traditional Green messages you’d expect –  like drowning polar bears – were presented so subtly I missed them altogether even though I watched it twice.

Frankly, though this is the only one I’d willingly watch twice. So I’m going to give this 8 endangered species.


Look, it’s Martin Freeman. An actual celebrity. We all know how watchable he is! Loved him in The Office. Oooh, look he’s talking to us from a high key background, but then we see it’s a studio, cos we can see the crew and all from different neck-aching angles so we know he’s talking to us like an actual person. Like he’s just taking a break from green screening the next elf film to tell us of his voting intentions. They can’t even get the focus quite right, as the actual grip’s probably on his tea break or votes UKIP or something, so we know it’s authentic.

Thank you Martin, for letting me know…oh what, you’re still talking? Now you’re monologuing policy promises that you’re authorised to make exactly how? Are you still going? Please stick to hobbits.

Dreary. I give this 3.5 unionised film crew members.

Liberal Democrats

Creepy night time driving with a woman who – no matter how hard she tries to change stations – keeps getting  LibDems on the car radio.  Is this the future we’d be voting for?  Shots of strange parts of the car and  the driver’s face are interspersed with a blurry road ahead. Is that what she’s seeing? What substance is she on?  Then the radio addresses her directly, by name, which doesn’t surprise her at all so I’m pretty sure she’s definitely on something good.

At the junction she accelerates and is nearly hit by the red Labour car from left. Foot on the pedal again and nearly hit by the blue Tory car from the right. Clearly a public safety video on the dangers of jumping the lights while driving impaired.

Bizarre, but not bizarre enough to quite hit Twin Peaks chic, I give this 4 crossing guards.

Plaid Cymru

My first thought was top marks for spoofing Little Britain’s ‘Only Gay in the Village’, cos – you know, they’re Welsh and all.  But on second thought, I found it odd that they’d want associate voting for them as either soul-crushing isolation and shame or a dirty little secret. Even though obvs, loads of people in the village are gay and quite happy about it.

Having made the commitment and taken what must have seemed like quite a good idea at a late-night, booze-fueled concept meeting actually into production they ran with it – and ran and ran and ran, off a cliff. Lengthy, painful scenes, comparing a vote for Plaid with breaking the news of a redundancy or showing your Nan your skeezy tattoo. Really?

I did like all the crockery in the opening scenes. I’m going to grudgingly give it 5 Willow pattern tea cups just for the “did they actually broadcast that?” factor.


Another one that starts out with odd shots of cars.  This one had so many of the car ad cliches – beautiful scenery, shots of the car interior and hairpin turns that I couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t watching one.  I kept waiting for the “skip ad” button to appear on YouTube.  Unlike the LibDem’s montage of travel, this guy’s driving tour of Scotland is in the daylight so we can see the beautiful scenery…oh and then the gritty urban areas, lasses on the lash, abandoned mills and endless, endless roundabouts and slip roads.

If you were ever tempted to do an Irn-Bru drenched road trip of Scotland, now you can be spared. But the SNP really do have quite a polished approach to these videos, so I’ll give it 7 stolen traffic cones jauntily placed atop the head of a statue.


Not a single shot of Nigel Farage in a pub, with a pint or in a smoking jacket, fag akimbo. Such a disappointment. Lots of shots of the White Cliffs of Dover and zoom-in and zoom-outs and zooming again on Mr Farage on a black background explaining the Australian immigration points system. Somehow Farage kind of makes this watchable, if not pay-attention-to-able.  But probably only because you’re waiting for the inevitable gaffe, which – SPOILER ALERT – appears to have been edited out.

Not awful, but lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, I give it 4 Eurocrats.

The Mebyon Kernow bonus round, because clearly you haven’t had enough already.

These guys weren’t actually allowed a broadcast, because they’re not fielding enough candidates. But did that stop them? No.

Top marks for the Cornish scenery, you can’t beat that. But you can beat a talking head, low production values and the same canned background music that I assume would soundtrack a timeshare sales video.

While this review isn’t really meant to cover actual policies, their main one seems to be the development of a Cornish assembly. But isn’t Cornwall a unitary authority already??

Surely, given that, proper powers for councils would be enough. And devolution for local government is a policy I can definitely get behind.