We complete our wonderful and strange adventure into the world of populist politics with a look at creativity applied to political campaigning. Please refer to “Elected” Parts I and II for the story so far of how we stood a “dead cat” (well a toy cat actually) for election as a counterpoint to “dead cat politics” in the UK. Our story today is about the results and lessons from our campaigning. Quite astonishingly, we gained 229 votes for our “dead cat” Stan. This is 229 more votes than we expected!
I did not have a campaign team, nor a budget, and we did not do much campaigning at all. When we did campaign, I deliberately asked people to vote for other candidates and not Stan the cat.
I did not even vote for myself! We also gained more votes than the Christian People’s Alliance, who had a budget and who had campaigned for 15 years rather than 15 days. This is simultaneously impressive and disturbing, with people saying they would rather vote for my dead cat than any politician on some occasions.
The incumbent Labour politician, Andy Stamp lost nearly 5000 votes, but these votes did not really go anywhere else if you examine the figures. On the doorstep, I noted time after time that, when I asked a question about Boris Johnson or Brexit, I got an answer about Jeremy Corbyn, the national Labour leader at the time. This hatred of Corbyn was reflected across many parts of the country and was decisive in terms of the eventual majority of 80 votes.
It was not so much the case that Boris won the election, more than Corbyn lost.
The media undoubtedly played their part in demonising Corbyn and his party although I believe that Jeremy played his own part in his downfall as a leader from my day job as a leadership author. What we learn from this is that hate is a more powerful emotion than love when it comes to elections. Clearly many Labour voters decided not to vote due to their perceptions of the national leader, in spite of the fact that the local candidate is a solid, reliable politician. There are important transferable lessons to the US elections this year, with Trump casting a similar spell over the democrat candidates installing industrial scale illusions in people’s minds.
What therefore did we learn from our brief foray into politics?
- There is a need to re-value the currency of trust in politics. It has. dropped into negative equity.
- People do recognise a fresh approach that is not tainted by old political paradigms. Had I campaigned properly we may actually have made a much deeper impact on the status quo.
- Cats are trusted more than UK politicians at this time, even dead ones.
- There is a desperate need to re-boot Britain at this time. Adding a man-made disaster (Brexit) to a natural crisis (Corona) will add up to what I am calling a “Britastrophe”. I am starting a movement (without cats), to address this need in society and heal our various binary divisions.
- The ruling conservative candidate was really spooked by our disruptive strategy and tried his best to use subversive tactics to undermine our efforts. All for 229 votes. After a visit from the Police about petty allegations on election night, the Police concluded that Mr Chishti had wasted Police time as there was no crime committed. Just imagine the kind of pressure I would have experienced if I had stood a lion instead of a cat for election?
- People tell me that they are disengaged from politics. Yet, silence is an asset and one cannot complain about matters large or small if one refuses to participate in democracy. Yes, it has faults but it is precious and we desperately need it as we go forward together to face complex “wicked problems” in the world.
- My next project is outlined in this YouTube video.