20 February 2010

The Lib Dem-Tory poster campaign that achieves nothing but waste

I'm not, in principle, against councils spending money on posters and communications. Local authorities provide a whole host of services to residents and that sometimes requires them to venture into the world of advertising and marketing. It's tricky territory for them because they leave themselves open to the accusation of wasting money and/or spending public money on propaganda. But when it is done responsibly, there are occasions when getting the message across in this way is justified.

An example of the kind of campaign that I think is OK would be the "Well done to Southwark School children on their exam results" poster campaign that the council ran last year. Many of our local state schools suffer from an undeserved poor reputation, when in fact they are good schools filled with excellent teachers. The campaign gave a positive message to local kids about their achievments and told local parents that some local schools were doing well. Other examples of justifiable campaigns would be on voter registration or the collection of council tax.

But when local councils start pumping out political propaganda, just before an election, and paid for with public money, I draw the line. Southwark's Lib Dems and Tories have decided to run a "My council" campaign which does nothing but mislead residents of this borough into thinking their council is wonderful, superb and downright brilliant. As regular readers of this blog will know, Southwark Council was recently rated as the worst council in inner London.

The campaign means that you are paying for hundreds of posters to be put up on bus stops and phone booths across the borough which say "My Council . . . is working hard to improve our parks and green spaces." (or some variation on this theme) The implication here, is that there is something remarkable about a council that does things like "work hard to improve parks". They might as well run a poster campaign saying, "My Council . . . sometimes collects the rubbish from people's homes." It's just vacuous nonsense, which is sadly wasting thousands of pounds which should be invested in improving services.

We're working on finding out exactly how much this ridiculous campaign has cost, but in the meantime, I thought I'd balance things up a bit by producing my own version (see below). I can confirm that no public money was wasted in the photoshopping of this photograph.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a terrible waste of money. Whilst we have people in desperate need in the borough I can't see how they could justify spending on fruitless self promotion.