Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A look at the online Deputy Leadership election

Let's take a closer look at the two campaigns for Green Party Deputy Leader. Specifically I thought I'd take a peek at the on-line campaigns. The obvious place to start are the websites for Adrian (who is running on a joint ticket with Caroline Lucas) and Derek.

Adrian and Caroline's site is comprehensive to say the least with candidate statements and biographies including their extensive electoral experience, recent videos, an explanation of how the election works for new members, Caroline's work and Adrian's campaigning as well as an FAQ.

The site is clean and well laid out and, apart from the landing page, is very similar in design to the Green Party national site.

Adrian outlines his political priorities as public services, green economy, reforming politics, and protecting animals. There's a particularly strong element on his site called supporting local parties which outlines concrete party organising and building local campaigns. For me these kinds of specifics will decide my vote.

When it comes to Adrian's endorsements we have respected party members Peter Cranie, Jean Lambert, Peter Tatchell, Patrick Harvie, Darren Johnson, as well as a host of cllrs and moderately well known party activists. The 32 endorsements don't include every senior elected Party member, but it's pretty close.

Derek has less on his site, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and his opening statement is succinct and clear. However the formatting is all over the place and the design far more clunky with misaligned photos, a grey colour scheme and sloppy use of paragraphing which could be sorted out in literally two minutes rendering the endorsements in particular far more accessible.

The site includes videos from his time as principal speaker and an old video with Frost debating a climate denier which are interesting but do feel quite dated. He also includes links to his writings in the Morning Star, the Australian Green Left Weekly and his academic work.

Derek lays out the themes of his campaign by talking about going 'beyond the crisis', that he's a natural communicator, a global green and has thirty years of experience. There is no specific section on what Derek would actually do as Deputy Leader, although having said that some of the endorsement texts are very interesting and well worth a read.

Derek has 21 endorsements most significantly from Comedian Mark Steel and union activist Jerry Hicks. The rest of nominations are all, I think, from Green Left members like the stupendous Jonathan Buckner and serious party stalwarts such as Joseph Healey. Derek only has two elected Greens in his endorsements (two councillors) which, combined with the politically narrow support, does look like a weakness to be honest.

Moving on to the Facebook fan pages we see that Adrian currently has 139 fans for the election and Derek just pips him at the post with 143.

The first thing that grabbed me was that Derek's photo has him relaxed in an informal pose with open shirt and the info page focuses on policy. Adrian's page has him in a far more formal pose complete with tie, and photoshopped in with Caroline, which seems a little unnecessary as there are plenty of pictures of the two of them together.

Adrian has pledges on what he'd do as deputy, and casting an unscientific eye over the members of the group it looks like Adrian has broader support in the party and Derek a clearer left constituency with more non-party members as fans. However, Adrian's wall is more interactive with lots of messages of support while Derek's is mainly messages from the campaign to supporters.

Checking out their non-campaign feeds I notice Adrian has basically a press release style page with a slower cycle of pieces than Derek's blog which has quite a frenetic rate of posting. Looking at the last ten things the candidates have posted on (at the time of writing) I see that Derek has four pieces on Latin America, two pieces from the Morning Star, two pieces on the Australian election and two on the cuts/campaigning for Caroline Lucas. Certainly very internationalist!

Adrian on the other hand has articles on factory farming, VAT, schools, Tesco, open democracy, the first Green Lord Mayor (in Norwich), the ConDem coalition, the Lib Dems and where we stand after the election. As I say this is two months worth of content compared to Derek's week's worth due to the rate of posting but I think the different focus is still instructive with Adrian taking up far more mainstream issues that are closer to home and Derek focusing on more international or ideological subjects.

On twitter both Adrian and Derek are having conversations with supporters, although it doesn't look to me that the candidates are prioritising this part of their online campaigns.

Green bloggers seem to be split roughly fifty fifty each way. The articles I've seen supporting either candidate come out at four a piece, although I may well have missed some (feel free to forward any I've not seen). I think both sides have articulated their positions very well on the blogs and, if you've not yet made up your mind, these posts are a good place to go to to draw out the differences between the candidates.

Adrian: Nishma Doshi, Jason Kitkat, Adam Ramsay (no relation), Peter Cranie
Derek: Joseph Healey, Jane Watkinson, Adam Pogonowski, Red Green Nick

For me both Adrian and Derek are left candidates, but they have very different approaches to politics. Derek often highlights the fact that he is a self-defined 'eco-socialist' and name drops the thinkers he approves of while Adrian almost always focuses on content and has a more task orientated approach to politics.

When I eventually decide how to vote I'll be looking at their politics, their personal capabilities and focus as well as their ability to put out a decent campaign - which has quite a lot of bearing on how effective they will be if elected to the role.

If Green Party members want to submit a question to the online leadership hustings send an email to ero@greenparty.org.uk with the subject header 'hustings question'. Put your name and local party in the email and if your question is for a specific position (either leader or deputy) remember to specify that. You need to do this today to meet the deadline!


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, thanks for writing it.

Re. the FB groups - I belong to both but am supporting Derek Wall only.

Jim Jepps said...

That's a good point that some people will be members of both without necessarily backing both - at a glance I didn't notice any surprises but I can't say I did a person by person analysis of who was in which group!

Anonymous said...

Tut tut Jim! I can't believe you didn't do a person by person analysis ;)

Adam Pogonowski said...

You can't view the members' of Derek's group in full, so you haven't glanced at that at all.

Sorry Jim, but this piece comes across as fairly biased in one camp's favour for my money.

Anonymous said...

But Jim is supporting Adrian isn't he Adam?

Jim Jepps said...

Actually Adam that's not quite right - the reason I couldn't do a person by person analysis is that you can't view Derek's fans in one go *but* having viewed the site a number of times I knew that if I pressed refresh I get a different selection each time - I only had to do that half a dozen more times to get a decent snap shot of who were members - but I was clear in the post that it was not a scientific sample.

It does not reflect well on you at all Adam to have the immediate knee jerk response of "you haven't glanced at that at all" when I have and, by leafing through the members got a clear impression that looks pretty consistent with the endorsements on Derek's campaign site. Try it for yourself.

Do you disagree with my findings on the membership of the groups that "Adrian has broader support in the party and Derek a clearer left constituency with more non-party members as fans"? Do you think Derek has broader support? or does Adrian has more support outside the party than Derek?

I don't see what's biased about that seeing as it's blindingly obvious to anyone with a passing knowledge of the names of people on the left and in the Green Party.

I'm not supporting either candidate until after the conference hustings and I don't think this piece is biased. I've made complements and criticisms of both online campaigns and have essentially reported what I've seen.

Derek's online campaign is not as strong as Adrian's, it's true, but reporting that fact is not biased even if you find it inconvenient. improve the online campaign and I will report that.

If you want to show me anything that's wrong please do and I can either explain it (like with the fb fans) or correct the article.

James Youd said...

Jim, All I would say is that Adrian and Caroline have the establishment of the party behind them. I wouldn't say that is necessarily a boarder base of support, and it is as clearly defined as the Left and Green Left.
I would say that that has put a lot of members off voting for Adrian as there seems to be this desperation to make sure everyone gets behind the leadership and anyone suggesting otherwise should be silenced.
All the arguments in favour of Adrian and Caroline are saying how wonderfully they have nurtured the party over the past two years. Well, erm yeah I suppose they have done a good job. That is no reason to say someone else wouldn't have done an equally good job. I admire both Adrian and Caroline and think they have given immense energy and dedication for the party but I am not going to go round saying better the devil you know, which seems to be their rhetoric... If Caroline is so keen on pluralism and working across political divides in the media, why does it seem she is paranoid enough to make sure everything in the leadership elections goes her way? I also contend with your suggestion that Lucas/Ramsay campaign online is better than Derek's. Well when you have all the party machinery working on their campaign and a small dedicated group on Derek's then I think they have actually done fairly poorly.
All the best James

Nishma said...

It's a shame you didn't compare the videos on each site, Jim.

Purely on a comparative level (though I'm sure Adam P would disagree), I thought I might expand.

Both Derek and Adrian have a similar amount of videos (largely from YouTube), with Adrian's clearly having more with Caroline Lucas' as well.

However, it seems Adrian's are much more clean cut and better presented, even the one which he filmed for the elections:


In this case, the background noise is irksome and the lighting perhaps a little too grey, but Adrian comes through and his point is made. (All are here:http://sites.google.com/site/lucasramsay2010/videos)

Comparing this to Derek's first video, (all found here: http://derekfordeputy.blogspot.com/p/video.html) it's almost painful to watch. Outside Westminster, the noise is purely background, with subtitles scrolling across the bottom so you know what Derek is talking about.

It is a shame that Derek chose the videos that he did, as there are much better ones of him on YouTube, but these are of him as Principal Speaker.

Whatever the case, no-one can deny that in terms of the choice of digital media and the way in which both men come across, Adrian's far outstrip Derek's.

Jim Jepps said...

James: that's certainly a reasonable way of looking at it - although I guess I'd argue the establishment is *politically* broader than GL, although perhaps not structurally broader - which is an interesting dynamic.

I genuinely keep coming across people who hate the joint ticket aspect of Adrian/Caroline's candidacy (which as I've said before I don't). I was drinking last night with a green who'd voted ron saying he would have voted Adrian were it not for the slate.

Candidates in future elections might be wise to bear in mind this does not go down well. Whether it's decisive or not, we shall see.

Nishma: I wanted to be careful about only comparing reasonably objective areas, which meant outside of the fact that AR/CL's videos are more numerous and more recent I felt if I'd compared, for example, presentational styles it would inevitably feel personal about the candidates and I didn't want to go there.

However, I'm not saying that's not important, only that I didn't want to start making personal remarks about the candidates. So I'm more than happy for people to discuss them, as it's both interesting and relevant!

I do think Derek would be wise to record a specific video for this election and I've offered to tape and edit it for him in the interests of a more informed election. I'm hoping he'll get time to take me up on that.

Adam Pogonowski said...

Hey Jim. It's just some of the digs you have made seem a little non-objective. And as a well-established green, you cannot possibly be fully objective re. this debate anyway.

But that doesn't matter.

You also misstated the number of Cllr. support. Derek has 3, not 2!

Adam Pogonowski said...

And sorry, if you REALLY want me to explain where I perceive bias, it is primarily in the article analysis section, and the ensuing comments. The method of conducting that comparison and the concomitant comments do not appear objective.

If you want me to explain more, then I shall. I'm off out to East Area Committee now, so got to dash!

Anonymous said...

'I'm not supporting either candidate until after the conference hustings and I don't think this piece is biased.'

My apologies. From memory I had thought you had stated support for Adrian on Twitter. My earlier comment was dependent on my (bad) memory and not from any perceived bias in this post.

Red Green Nick said...

Derek has considerable support in his old stomping ground of the South West,with a recent endorsment from Roger C-O of the Cornish Green Party now on his election blog.
I feel the party needs to do more to support GPEX and GPRC members financially, as to open the positions out to those who can't afford to stand.

Adam Pogonowski said...

Indeed Red Green Nick. I agree. It also needs to take some power and influence away from my region, (Eastern) and Brighton, which I think hold too much attention of our party, to the detriment of the rest of the country. Derek will be advocating this point no doubt.