Blair, Campbell and ‘astroturfing’

Posted by Tim Ireland at May 23, 2005

Category: UK General Election 2005

This entry was posted on
Monday, May 23rd, 2005
8:32 am and is filed
under UK General Election 2005.

Guardian – How Labour used its election troops to fake popular support: In America, they call it ‘astroturfing’: the faking of grassroots support for a politician or a product whose popularity is on the slide. Now it emerges that a tactic invented by US pharmaceutical firms to promote drugs – and promptly adopted by the Republicans to shore up George Bush after 9/11 – was imported to Britain to help get Tony Blair re-elected. A documentary to be screened on Channel 4, filmed by an undercover journalist who got a job in Labour’s war room, reveals how party members and supporters were systematically used to create the impression of ‘real people’ passionately backing the government.

The Guardian is displaying the wrong broadcast date. This broadcast goes out tonight:

Dispatches – Mon May 23 – 8pm on Channel 4

Two extra items via the NuLabour Dirty Tricks Archives

Meet Ben Virgo.

Something to keep in mind if Labour play the victim and/or come out hitting from the moral high ground following broadcast:

Scotsman – Campbell spins Blair into dirty tricks row (May 1): Labour was propelled into a fresh “dirty tricks” row last night after Alastair Campbell unveiled a new dossier detailing the secrets of the Tory strategy for regaining power. Senior Labour sources later admitted that the bulk of the documents had been passed to the party by a sympathiser “embedded” in the Tory campaign operation.

1 Comment

  1. Simon Christopher-Chambers says

    I’m gobsmacked. Was I watching the same programme. For me it lacked any KILLER PUNCH. Where were the ‘dirty tricks’? Charities send out ‘model’ letters for supporters to lobby MPs, government and organisatons etc. Would you accuse them of ‘dirty tricks’? I think not. And the technique is not new and was not imported from the states. It has been used for decades by all the political party’s as well as numorous other organisations.And so what if Tony Blair is surrounded by party workers and supporters at poster launches and rally’s. What’s he going to do? Surround himself with critics and one issue protagonists. And if the 3 political amigo’s Andrew, Adam and Nick were so concerned why didn’t they reveal the truth to us instead of being complicit by their actions.Kleeman clearly failed miserably to find any real dirty tricks and was thus reduced to sensationalising. And how comic it was to hear her criticise the techniques for being ‘deceiptful’ and ‘misleading’. Isn’t that EXACTLY what she was doing?Yet again we get documentary’s scrummaging around for sensational stories and coming up with nothing. But still editing in such a way as to make it seem more than it was.

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