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Intimidation is not a purpose

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Lucy James of Westbourne Communications has denied that intimidation is a “purpose” of its Biz4HS2 Campaign for High Speed Rail.

By Lucy James
on Apr 3, 2013 in View from the Attic

On Wednesday 27th March 2013, Spinwatch released a report that claimed that the Campaign for High Speed Rail, a campaign set up and run by Westbourne, set out to “intimidate local opposition” to HS2. In response to these claims, Westbourne has released the following statement:-

In March 2013, Westbourne gave a presentation to a private workshop of students from the University of Philadelphia School of Design. Presentations similar to that presented at this workshop have been delivered on a number of different occasions at conferences around the world. At no point during this – or any – presentation did anyone from Westbourne suggest that the purposes of the campaign were to intimidate or bully opponents of HS2 as suggested by the anonymous source quoted in the Spinwatch report.

Without tape transcripts of each and every presentation, it’s not really possible to determine what was said.

But saying that something isn’t a ‘purpose’ of a campaign, is not quite the same thing as saying that it is not a tactic of a campaign.

In any event, there is no escaping the fact that Biz4HS2 is

  • an astroturf campaign
  • based on emotional conditioning and factual misrepresentation.

Ms James has more or less admitted Biz4HS2 is astroturf, in the statement reproduced above (“a campaign set up and run by Westbourne”). On the second point, one need only examine the Campaign Youtube video and soundtrack.

“Britain’s trains are bursting at the seams. It’s costing jobs… breaking up families… dividing our country. Some say high speed rail is too expensive. It damages the environment in Britain’s beautiful home counties, that Britain can’t afford it, that the money is better spent on our roads, mostly in the south{Becomes agitated} In the Chilterns, hedge fund farmers and taxpayer funded councils have built up a million pound war chest to spend on lawyers and PR types to scupper these plans, whatever it takes. {Calms down} Plans that will help businesses outside London compete in a global economy.

In January 2013, an article on the power of emotion in political campaigns by former Westbourne partner James Frayne appeared on Conservative Home.

It is becoming increasingly clear that people make political decisions based primarily on emotion rather than reason.
How will the developing research into decision-making change campaigns? Firstly, it is likely to mean that they take a much more emotional approach to their general communications around key issues.
Secondly, it will mean that campaigns become keener to enter into more controversial, high visibility stories where passions run high. […] campaigns will see controversy as a welcome opportunity to cut through to the public and deliberately ramp up certain stories. The risk of having fingers burned will now be weighed more seriously against the pay off of actually moving the public.

Thirdly, it will mean that in some close races, British campaigns will become as negative as American ones.


Written by beleben

April 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

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