Gordon MacMillan,  UK Politics

Mydavidcameron.com says the spoofing is over

The spoofers behind Mydavidcameron.com are calling it day. Taking their cue from the fact Tories are aping what they’ve done.

Knowing when to leave is a (political) art and in a blog post Clifford Singer, who was behind Mydavidcameron.com, says that the spoofing always had “had a limited shelf-life”.

That’s one reason to call it a day. He also points to another highlighting the argument that such spoofs play into the hands of the opposition.

“Some right-wing commentators, including Ian Dale and Tim Montgomerie, have suggested that we benefit Cameron by spreading his posters virally – irrespective of our anti-Tory spin. I’ve explained previously why I disagree – and it’s been pleasing to see our spoofs coincide with a shift in the political mood away from Cameron, as the Tories repeatedly blunder and come under greater media scrutiny. But Dale and Montgomerie could become right over time: as the mock posters become more ubiquitous – and everyone and their dog joins in – our anti-Tory message may become more blunted.”

He makes a good point, but there is no denying that the posters produced by the Airbrushed for Change site have caught on like wildfire and spread virally across the web.

That spread has highlighted the power of the whole social media thing be it spoofing on blogs, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr.

If you want a statistic that points to its worth then look no further than Mumsnet. We’ve had the white van man election and the 2010 election is according to a much quoted Rachel Sylvester column in The Times going to be the “Mumsnet election”.

Sylvester was talking more widely about mums than just the Mumsnet website, but on that site it is easy to see the impact that a campaign like Airbrushed for Change can have. It racked up as Singer points out 38 pages of spoofs. Nice job.

All this digital stuff played an important role in Barrack Obama’s overall campaign. The use of the “donate now” button is estimated to have raised around $500m online.

We’re never going to see those numbers or that level of excitement (if only this were 1997), but it all plays a part. I just donated £25 to Labour (honest — I hope they don’t spend it all on balloons “£25 – Pays for 250 campaign balloons”). Since the Air Brushed for change thing got going, and was repeated with the gravestone ads and most recently with “I’ve never voted Tory before, but …” the Tory digerati have woken up and taken to borrowing Mydavidcameron’s ideas. They have their own spoofs and gone and messed the whole thing up in the process.

I’d meant to blog on this after seeing the “I’ve never voted Labour” Tory spoofs. What is interesting about these posters is that some are really offensive and quite sinister. One features queues of illegal immigrants; another a thanks from the BNP; and a third a family on benefits. Jonathan Bartley on his blog says the “Tory migrant poster crosses the line”. I couldn’t agree more.

In general this wasn’t the tone of the Mydavidcameron spoofs, which I think helped the Labour Party which adopted it to use on its own website. I think the reason for the difference in tone is obvious. Those posters are representative of parts of the Tory party — airbrush free.

If I were the Conservative Party on the other hand I would want to distance myself from these pronto, but the site was created by rather than distancing themselves from it these nasty and racist images is being pointed to by the Tory website ConservativeHome.com, which is owned by Lord Ashcroft.

The Tory posters highlight where this freewheeling spoof malarkey can take you. That said on balance hats off to Singer & Co as overall I’m guessing that it has had a positive contribution, but is just a small part of what will be a fast moving and rapidly evolving digital election campaign.

Labour has some good ideas already in play (like Change We See and and it is getting better at this as the campaign (still in its early stages) develops goes on. Clearly the same is true of the Tories as well. There are lots of good Tory bloggers out there (and some real idiots).

As the Guardian and others have pointed out this stuff is getting through to the candidates fighting on the doorsteps and that’s frontline as far as politics goes.

Singer & Co say they have a few ideas up their. Okay they also said “they’re still so half-baked that we can’t really put them into words”, but I’m optimistic.