Why the Tories’ YouTube ad won’t shift many votes

The Tories’ £50,000 YouTube ad is part of the old command-and-control politics.

Tories YouTube

The Tories are thought to have paid about £50,000 for the main ad space on YouTube today. It may remind Conservative supporters to turn out (I'm always surprised at the number of people who say they simply forgot to vote), but I can't see it winning any converts, and it may even turn some against Cameron.

Once again, it seems that the Conservatives have confused form with function. Those who appreciate YouTube as a user-driven and interactive service aren't going to be impressed by the Tories' colonisation of the site.

Gordon Brown's remarkable speech to Citizens UK was a YouTube hit (125,000 views) because it was relatively short (ten minutes) and an unusually passionate and moving address.

If Cameron really wants to win over the "YouTube generation" he'd be better off making a few decent speeches, rather than using the old command-and-control method of buying ad space.

Follow the New Statesman team on Facebook.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.