The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

not a good look

When putting together a CV it's advised that you check very very carefully for grammar and spelling errors. The same goes for political leaflets, especially those purporting to be from the candidate, asking for the electorate vote.

I met Jackie Blue a few weeks back at a forum and she actually seemed nice. She probably shouldn't have told me that she had no idea what she was getting herself in for and that she probably would have said no if she'd known what running for an electorate would really be like. Like her leader, she has a fair serving of political naivety, which frankly I'm prepared to forgive in a first time National candidate standing in a safe Labour seat (not in someone wanting to be PM though, mind).

Yesterday I received her campaign postcard in the letterbox, along with thousands of other Roskillians. There was a veritable rash of young white guys, running confusedly around the electorate brandishing postcards. I saw one particularly odd pair - one was running and the other was cycling along next to him, handing him each postcard as a letterbox approached - some kind of "Change the Govt and Your Waistline" campaign tactic?

All of the above waffle is to put off the unpleasant task of critiquing the Blue postcard.

I could turn into a grammar nazi, a la Xavier, and point out the missing comma in the second line of text and the fact that I sincerely hope the health centre she is involved in serves more than the one woman the pamphlet suggests (Women's not "Womans", folks!)

Or the sentences which don't really make sense:

"With encouragement and support family and friends, I became active in the National Party."

"...resulting to stand as your National Party candidate..."

But the bits that I found really perturbing were the five bullet points:
  • "I want to make sure that Health care is there for everyone when they need it"
All well and good, but no mention of any policies to do this.

  • "As a mother of two school aged children I am keenly aware of the issues facing families particular in the area of Education"
Again, that's good, but again no policy. And Education is bolded when nothing else in the bullet points is - which is weird layout. Highlighting the word "education" in a sentence with bad grammar is not a good idea.

  • "As a Doctor, a wife and mother I have been at the forefront of the many issues and continue to work with people to make a change for the better"
Care to name some of those issues? Again, this sounds as if it has been badly translated from a foreign language.

  • "Tax cuts more money in you pocket"
I kid you not, this is the entirety of the bullet point, I have not changed a single letter. Doesn't really tie in with the caring line being taken in the rest of the postcard.

And the final bullet point is:
  • "Safe communities"
which just looks very strange, tacked on to the end.

Then, along the bottom of the card, white caps on blue:

"I will fight for you, your family and community"

Not as bad as some of the gaffes above, but it puts the candidate at a distance from the voters - "our community" would have sealed the deal much better.

I get the impression that this postcard was put together in haste, that perhaps they had three bullet points to start with and then discovered there was room for two more, as the last two just don't gel at all. Three long bullet points and then two short just look very strange and have a grasping at straws look to them.

I have no doubt that Jackie is a genuine and caring person who actually wants to give back to her community, even though I violently disagree with the policies she might want to pursue. But she is poorly served by this postcard, which portrays her as a candidate who isn't familiar with the issues, or the policies, and is certainly unaware of the basics of clear communication. When I met her she seemed quite nice, despite being out-of-touch, and she deserves better from her campaign team than this.

All of this just further cements my plan to be much more hands-on next election (health willing). Hopefully I can find a leftie campaign manager to snuggle up to and learn from for 2011. This election has largely pointed out who not to emulate, with a large number of bad campaigns (the Greens and NZ First have been particularly poor).

But ultimately Jackie Blue and her ilk will not be judged by me alone - this time next week they'll know if the campaigns highlighted their strengths, or merely put their weaknesses on show.


T said...

Good burn.

Nigel Kearney said...

Heh. As I've said before, doctors are far and away the most overrated and overrespected group in the community. Their level of ignorance is surprising and scary. No idea why this is so but it is.

Rich said...

If you think you could do so much better Nigel why not become a doctor.. How hard can it be?

However - I'm always amazed at the level of illiteracy that supposedly educated people can achieve in a document for public consumption - if they (like me) aren't a professional writer, can't they at least get a few people to proof read and generally tidy up the syntax?

gpjwatson said...

Fair call,

I am sure those involved in her campaign will take note and store your constructive feedback for their future endeavours.

Anonymous said...

I thought that National was in favour of the '3 R's'?

I'm assuming that who ever wrote the pamphlet must be one of the victims of the market-led education system of the 1980s and 90s.

Another good reason not to let them back in.

span said...

actually I realised last night that I completely forgot to mention the biggest failing of the postcard - it plumps for the electorate vote and not the party vote. Jackie is going to lose Mt Roskill, always was, but National does have a chance to hoover up some party votes there. Forgetting to push for the party vote is a rather big mistake under MMP.

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

Spanner - we were quite aware of the message for the postcard. Trust me, no mistake made on the message.

Kate said...

Aaron - was that the message to spread bad grammar to all Aaron?
- Hee hee

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

Kate, had I been in charge of the postcard, then that would not have been our message at all. But what I meant to say was that we were quite aware of pushing the candidate vote.

span said...

Aaron, thanks for your comments. I have to say that I think it is a bizarre strategy for National to push for the candidate vote in Roskill. what purpose does it serve?

Aaron Bhatnagar said...

It will have a positive spin off for National's party vote message.

Chaucey said...

I agree that it is very important to make sure your campaign literature is correct in syntax, spelling etc..

But then again - maybe she is writing for her readers, most of whoom probably won't even notice the problems.

Still NO EXCUSES! Attention to detail was obvisouly lacking.

Rich said...

I'm amazed at the lack of literacy in letters to newspapers which, from the content, were almost certainly written by a product of 1950s traditional education.

span said...

makes you wonder what the ones they reject are like ;-)