Sunday, 2 May 2010

Behavioural politics, day 23 of 30

Oh, Gordon.

Today, in possibly the most embarrassing thing that could possibly have happened to a modern politician, Gordon Brown was caught on tape describing a voter as "a bigoted woman".

Most of you will know the details all too well by now, but those who don't can read them here and should watch Jon Stewart's take on it - if you can find a video clip that works in your country.

Although this was widely considered to have written off Labour's chances in the election, the focus on it has been so intense that Brown has not been harmed as much as expected. Attention is the currency of an election campaign, just as it is in the commercial world. And Gordon Brown has had more attention than he could possibly have bought.

The short-term polls bear out this surprising result - Labour has had no drop-off in support since this happened.

On the other hand, it creates such a strong narrative that it allows little room for any other story. That gives Labour in particular - but also the other parties - no opportunity to present a new message and change the pattern of their support. This event just further entrenches voting intentions that have been gradually solidifying for the last two weeks.

Really the other two parties have had no look-in today, so the ratings reflect Brown's squandering of Labour's chances of catching up but also the fact that they haven't been damaged fatally. At least the party will no longer have any reason to feel guilty about getting rid of him after the election. In the short term, the Liberal Democrats have survived another day as a front-runner, and that is all they really need to do right now.

Ratings: Liberal Democrat 7/10, Conservative 6/10, Labour 3/10.

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