The You Tube War: Hampstead and Kilburn

UH-OH. They’ve got the camcorders out in Hampstead and Kilburn and the results are as clunky as the election vids we saw down in Holborn.

Labour’s Glenda Jackson, like Frank Dobson, clearly doesn’t see the point in flooding YouTube with films. But her closest, dare we say it, more tech-minded Twittery rivals do and have produced a heap of little vignettes that literally tens of people have already watched. Again you have to wonder how these films can sway the polls, surely they are a campaign tool flashed from the future which surely won’t flip a floating voter one way or the other during these elections. So, what are they up to?

First up. It’s Conservative candidate Chris Philp. The bizarre thing here is in nothing in what Chris says or does, nothing wrong with his weather report. All very confident, very earnest. But watch his mate with the leaflets in the background. Three people walk by and how many accept a Conservative newsletter? One man actively puts his hands up to refuse, hardly a great advert yet nobody on Team Tory saw the need for another take.

Back in the warmth of his campaign office, Chris has made several videos in which he answers his bulging postbag of queries. They all start with: “You’ve written to me about… [insert topic Chris wants to talk about here]”. In the clip below, Chris is lucky enough to have somebody write to him about the ‘election landscape’ in Hampstead and Kilburn. Guess what the answer is? Go on. Guess. Guess. That’s right: THE LIB DEMS CAN’T WIN HERE. Got it? Have you..

But Lib Dem Ed Fordham’s at this home video lark too. In fact, he’s got more clips than any of the candidates in Camden uploaded, it’d take you all evening the watch them all. Look at this beaut released earlier this week. It’s Ed and his new roadside hoarding, check the proud look he gives it as he strolls into view.

This clip is more or less a defence of him resorting to the same billboard tactics Chris has already employed earlier in the campaign. He was a bit dismissive of the idea before Christmas. There’s a bit of sheepish innuendo here about whether Chris’s posters might have been funded via Belize. But what’s interesting is the poster itself. The ‘Love Hampstead’ catchphrase runs a similar vein of the creaky Love Camden council campaign to stir business during the downturn recently. And why is the top table endorsement from Vince Cable and not Ed’s big mate Nick Clegg?

Flick 2 is one from the end of the last year and is one Ed’s opponents grind their teeth over. Remember, both the Labour and Conservative claim the Lib Dems turned the last poppy day into an election photoshoot for their Camden campaigns. The Lib Dems of course reject all of this criticism and here’s Ed whispering about what Armistice Day means to him. Would he have posted the film if he wasn’t fighting an election? Probably not. But is it really so distasteful?

As with the candidates in the Holborn and St Pancras, there is a homemade charm in these clips, a stumble into the way future campaigns may be played out. The clunkiness might actually appeal. And joking aside, the lack of swishy filming and editing skills is a positive thing for the candidates. It shows they are like one of us, not people who will blow loads of cash on press and promotions should they get elected.

The problem for both Chris and Ed, and any other candidate who joins the You Tube battleground, is getting the voters to sit down, click and watch. At the moment, you get the impression it’s just relatives, party supporters and mealy-mouthed journalists who are tuning in.

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