Opinion: Alarm Clock Britain – identifying the vote is right, but reforming capabilities is key

Yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister gave his pitch to a demographic which has played a pivotal part in many electoral successes. Underlining this, Nick Clegg sought to identify to the party’s base where he envisages the party’s best chance of strategically positioning itself for 2015 is.

It appears that a key factor Nick Clegg must have taken in account in drawing up ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ is which demographic Lib Dem policies will affect best. As well as this, underneath appears to be a coded message to the growing concerns within all parts of the party as to ‘where are the voters going to come from?’

To many of this C1 ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ group, branding plays as much a part as policy, if not unfortunately a larger one, in how they vote. This revolution will be televised. In the wake of the TV leaders debate, the media is gearing itself in such a way that the impetus is on a ‘can he be trusted?’ rationale. This will be the biggest determinant in ‘Alarm Clock Britain’s’ choice.

In the past, much of the Liberal Democrats election tactics have been at a local level and have never been as professional as our opponents at communicating simple effective messages to specific demographic groups.

Neither has our ability to strategically identify where the vote comes from, as there isn’t as much continuity in the party’s vote as compared to the other parties. Interestingly, the Ashcroft focus grouping has bedazzled many of the top of the party who now realise just how much personality played a part in attracting voters to the Liberal Democrats. Therefore Nick Clegg remains the only asset the party has to offer with this demographic which is why ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ is a clever and mature move by the Deputy Prime Minister who deserves much credit.

Unfortunately and eventually, Labour is going wake up to this reality itself and will inevitability ditch Ed Miliband and for a David Miliband who, during the labour leadership election, was proved by various polls and focus grouping to emotionally connect. The Liberal Democrats need to be prepared for this strategic manoeuvring by Labour.

What’s more, many Tories openly admit their attempts to detoxify the Tory brand enough to reach ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ have failed and wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped. The coalition may, as many strategists expect, present them an opportunity of redemption. Having said that, increasingly they are becoming connected to ‘phase 2’ of the cuts, while Liberal Democrats are withdrawing from presenting ‘phase 1’. This may begin to cement the simplistic, but effective, ‘nasty party’ brand and this may prove irreconcilable to connecting with ‘Alarm Clock Britain’, leaving them open to Labour and ourselves.

Because of these possibilities, and the fact a national brand is now required, the Liberal Democrats are going to have to wise up to how those demographics consume content, what the media landscape will be like in 2015 and how the party has been about as redundant as an actor in Avatar at being able to communicate to these voters during the periods between elections when brand development is paramount. Becoming closer with News Corp should be key to this as they are the gatekeepers and have a direct phone line to ‘Alarm Clock Britain’.

The party also needs to look at reforming its national capabilities to be more responsive to branding, communicating to demographic groupings and adapting to the new dynamic and opportunities in government and new forms of content consumption. The latter remains the least important right now but it cannot be left to neutral civil services, as this domain has no arbitrators to be editorially objective or neutral.

The Deputy Prime Minister has to start to focus on himself and rebuild on his own brand on strong foundations. If Nick Clegg is to reach ‘Alarm Clock Britain’, this can’t be solely left to policy positioning. He needs to spend more time proactively defining himself rather than leaving it to the pundopoly and laying out various tactical messages. Fortunately Ed Miliband has given the Deputy Prime Minister, and the party, some much need leverage to adapt; but the clock is ticking.

Adapt and Nick Clegg may be onto something with ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ but expect the polls to flatline for most of our time in government while the cuts happen. These demographics won’t become approachable until 2013 when government wallets begin to loosen and content outlets start to gear themselves for a general election and the new dynamic of the leaders debates.

In order for this strategy to be credible requires the party has to be brand/image sensitive. In terms of strategic positioning, it’s a good start from the Deputy Prime Minister, but this may need to be refined further.

Johnny LeVan-Gilroy works in advertising and entertainment and has worked with public figures such as Amy Winehouse and Example. He was responsible for a number of campaigns during the general election such as ‘believe in fairness’. He advised Tim Farron on his presidential election strategy, messaging and communications.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/22726 for Twitter and emails.

26 Comments

  • Ah, I get it – its not about principles, policies or honesty, its all about requiring the party to be brand/image sensitive Shame that…..

    Have we got to the point where ‘Alarm Clock Britain’ is a clever and mature move by the Deputy Prime Minister is something we are applauding instead of rolling about in the aisles?

    Perhaps going back to basics might just improve the brand a bit – it’s pretty damaged at the moment and the impending climbdown on the bankers bonuses compared to the coalition agreement on same isn’t going to help.

  • The concept of “Alarm Clock Britain” seems completely vapid to me. What party leader could possibly disagree with trying to assist hard-working people who get up early? I think it is likely to be greeted with scorn and derision, especially given the coalition’s abject climbdown on bankers’ bonuses .

  • I agree with John.

    Utter vacuousness.

    Alarm Clock Britain?

    So…let’s break this down…

    Hands up who has an alarm clock? Hands up who doesn’t?

    Looks to me like everyone has an alarm clock – even the millionaires that Clegg is pretending to ignore and the ‘welfare scroungers’ he so obviously enjoys attacking, with ill-thought out nonsense such as this.

    Really – has the “New Politics” come to this?

  • It is a good sound-bite, but as I said on fb, the issue must run with our philosophy and underlying values. In the marketing speak you are using [which can seem a bit uncomfortable to read] – our mission and values. I think you are also, perhaps, too quick to dismiss previous campaigns which often did have a clear single message, and four clear policies. In addition, if we keep re-defining, you risk losing any clarity you may have had.

    There is a risk with ‘branding’ of forgetting the philosophy. A brand is simply a method of linking the philosophy to a group. And politics is about far more than the brand.

  • Nick has obviously lost the plot….

    “Alarm Clock Britain” is more concerned about the basic need of an alarm clock in the next few months. In the darkest moments of the C1 demographic you describe I cannot entertain the thought that ordinary working class people would dream of voting for a party that is part of a right wing coalition. The polls would also suggest my view is correct also.

    In the past 24 hours there has been no comment from the Lib Dem leadership regarding the “bankers” in the main media (perhaps there is if someone digs for any comment). The “Bankers” are the topic of most conversations in canteens and building merchants yards up and down the country at present.. Part of the topic will be the tough talk from Vince Cable before the GE and in the early days of the coalition. The silence yesterday was deafening. Perhaps Vince forgot to set his alarm clock. Vince is a National joke and will never be taken seriously by the float vote.

    The Lib Dem leadership has also said on many occasions that policies formed before the GE cannot now be implemented due to the coalition agreement. Why would any floating voter believe anything either the Lib Dems or the Tory party say before any future GE. If you had to form another coalition promises would be broken again. Cameron can run circles round Nick Clegg and push him around politically. If you hang around with the school bullies occasionally you will get a whack and diluted Lib Dems policies (eg Tuition fees) are a case in point.

    The only “alarm bells” that Nick Clegg should be listening to are the ones from the Lib Dems who think the leadership is taking the party down the path to political oblivion.

    As local elections take place you will see the Lib Dem side of the coalition decrease and subsequently any chance of real influence on the coalition. Thanks to Nick and Vince the Lib Dems have almost guaranteed a return to the two party system.

    I am a floating C1 who would rather Lib Dems grow some “cajones” and and stand up for Lib Dem values in the coalition that mean something to C1 voters. Sorting out the “Bankers” would be a start for any chance of gaining the Lib Dems C1 support over the term of this Parliament. I won’t hold my breath…

    I don’t vote for politicians because I like the “brand”. I vote for what they say as a party and subsequently do once they are given a chance to put words into action.

    If Nick and Vince were “brand” products we (the electorate) would probably have rights under the Trades Description Act

  • I think that what will be worrying a lot of workers in alarm-clock Britain is the new Tory Policy of being able to unfairly sack workers for up to 24 months after they start with a company rather than the 12 months it is at present – so those sacked can no longer seek compensation at an Employment Tribunal and I appear to remember that legal aid for these tribunals has also been cut. Oh yea – those who need alarm clocks to get up for work in the dark will be flocking to vote LibDem.

    Clegg has supported this policy – so I guess alarm-clock Britain will hit the button on LibDem principles and go back to sleep safe in the knowledge that when fat-cat bankers get the sack they walk away with millions. Big silence from the LibDem leadership on bank bonuses in recent days :)

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jan '11 - 12:02pm

    We wouldn’t need all this “brand building” and other top-down ad-man’s stuff if the Liberal Democrats could get back to being what they ought to be, and where they originated – a network of ordinary people who co-operate and who by their co-operation and their use of the opportunities opened by democracy challenge the dominance in our society of the aristocracy. By “aristocracy” here I do not mean literally those with old aristocratic titles, but rather the modern equivalent – people with enormous amounts of power and wealth but who are utterly detached from life as most people in the country live it.

    We need to “think outside the box” (to use a phrase they love) and get away from thinking that politics has to be as the ad-man sees life – about people like him finding out what these strange creatures “alarm clock man” or whatever they have decided to call them this year are like, and how they can con them by the use of ad-man’s trickery. We wouldn’t need to invent strange names for what are really “ordinary people” if our party really was run by ordinary people – and the whole point of mass membership political parties was that they would be.

    “Nick Clegg remains the only asset the party has to offer with this demographic”. What utter fatuous rubbish. What a bloody insult to all the rest of us in this party that we’re regarded as worthless, that only this one thing in our party, Nick Clegg, is an “asset”.

    We are told we contributors to LibDem Voice must not be personally abusive to others, so I shall leave it at there.

  • @bhainart “In the darkest moments of the C1 demographic you describe I cannot entertain the thought that ordinary working class people would dream of voting for a party that is part of a right wing coalition”
    um ,perhaps you have never heard of the millions of working class people who voted for Mrs Thatcher or indeed who still vote Tory. The idea that there is a monolithic block of working class voters who should vote according to their class was dead a long time ago.

    @ecojon – there is no legal aid for employment tribunals so the Coaition can’t have cut it

  • SMcG

    “um ,perhaps you have never heard of the millions of working class people who voted for Mrs Thatcher or indeed who still vote Tory. The idea that there is a monolithic block of working class voters who should vote according to their class was dead a long time ago. ”

    Where did I say that working class people vote in monolithic blocks according to their class or indeed allude to such an idea in my comment above? Working class to me means people who work. Yes they can be Tory. Lib Dem. Labour. Green whatever. As I said above people vote based on policies and watch to see what happens when those voted into government take charge. I always work on the principle that people are not as stupid or sheep like as demographics suggest.

    My comments are not aimed at the history of the 1979 GE and the subsequent swing to the Tory party but in the real world of the here and now and the right wing coalition of which the Lib Dems are a partner.

    In the next few months as “Alarm Clock Britain” get their P45s or reduced wage packets if they are lucky (due to unavoidable inflation) the only monolithic class you will see are very angry ordinary C1 voters who will punish the coalition and most likely at the weakest side, the Lib Dems.

    Mrs Thatcher’s government was nowhere near as right wing as the coalition is proving to be. Let’s see how many C1s who voted for the Conservatives do so in the locals to come.

  • Foregone Conclusion 12th Jan '11 - 3:03pm

    Surely every ad man realises that if you have a brand, it must be original. If I was doing the advertising for ASDA, my slogan wouldn’t be ‘every little helps’. The problem with ‘alarm clock Britain’ is it’s essentially what the Tories have been saying for time immemorial, complete with a rather nasty snipe at those on benefits.

    Also, ‘alarm clock Britain’ sounds stupid. I didn’t know what Clegg was talking about when I first heard it, and I had to have it explained to me. Therefore, it is, by definition, a poor soundbite.

  • That Nick Clegg has chosen/been advised to engage in a policy of turning one section of society against another shows the level the Lib Dem leadership has fallen to. Shameful and very shallow.

  • @matt

    Nearly all workers in the public sector are represented by very capable and well funded unions, who will defend them at tribunals if necessary. That’s as it should be.

  • @SMcG who said: @ecojon – there is no legal aid for employment tribunals so the Coaition can’t have cut it

    My understanding is that legal aid is available for initial advice and preparation but not actually for representation at an Employment Tribunal and that it is also available for cases which go to an EAT although I have to confess that I am unsure of any recent restrictions as I haven’t covered hearings for the last 5 years after 30+ years on and off covering Industrial and Employments Tribunals as well as other tribunal hearings as a jouno.

  • @bhainart who said: The idea that there is a monolithic block of working class voters who should vote according to their class was dead a long time ago.

    Well mate when this Tory Coalition government is tossed out I have no doubt that it will be done by a monolithic block of working class voters reborn in their belief that the Tories and now the LibDems do not represent their best interests.

  • @EcoJon

    If you take the care to read my comments above you will see that I said nothing of the sort and was quoting SMcG.

    “Well mate when this Tory Coalition government is tossed out I have no doubt that it will be done by a monolithic block of working class voters reborn in their belief that the Tories and now the LibDems do not represent their best interests.”

    Basically the gist of what I said above and couldn’t agree more sadly. At best back to the old two party system. Labour will do very well over the term of this coalition (and are demonstratively doing so if you believe the polls barely a few months into the coalition).

  • @bhainart

    Full apologies extended for my error :(

  • @ EcoJon

    No worries mate, I read/post in haste myself especially after reading the tosh above from Johnny-Levan-Gilroy. It would be a very humorous article but for the fact he is patently serious !

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User Avatarstuart moran 1st Sep - 5:24am
    Richard Dean Perhaps, but you have clearly failed to raise any points of worth, answered any questions and seem to be happy to follow whatever...
  • User AvatarAntony Hook 31st Aug - 11:54pm
    I remember in 2003 (after IDS resigned) the consensus was that is Davis stood he would have won the Tory leadership. But he decided to...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 31st Aug - 11:52pm
    This is now definitely the Thread of the Big Waste of Time.
  • User Avatarstuart moran 31st Aug - 11:28pm
    Richard Dean A lot of times - why have you? Experience tells us there have been 57 deaths due to Islamic terrorism in the UK...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 31st Aug - 11:06pm
    @stuart moran Experience is a good teacher. Have you actually ever done a risk assessment?
  • User Avatarstuart moran 31st Aug - 10:28pm
    Richard Dean In the end our responses to any potential hazard have to be based on statistics - it is how all risk assessment is...