The 2020 lack of vision…

Clarke and Milburn’s 2020 vision website was launched today.
Maybe they shouldn’t have bothered, and just left it with the email…

Paul ‘Guido’ Staines, frustratingly sums it up better than anyone:

It is yet another “participatory” website, policy orientated, debating the future direction of the Labour party, blah, blah, blah. Yawn.

The sorry thing though, is that it might have worked, had it been done well.
This could have been a truly intersting and worthwhile experiment, had the Clarke/Milburn vision stretched beyond opposing Gordon. Looking at the lacklustre efforts behind www.the2020vision.org.uk, the only conclusion you can draw when you see it, is that this is nothing more than a swipe at the Brown campaign. The page has no milage as a forum for visionary debate…

If that however is what they’re trying to create, it is obviously premature to argue that the venture has failed, even before it has properly got off the ground. Nevertheless, when the website itself doesn’t support the message, it doesn’t bode well for the continuation.

Just a few examples:

1. First impression.
The page could be for and about absolutely anything. Insurance company, events organiser, venture capitalists, health care… Nothing sets it apart. At all.

2. Design.
The colours are different shades of new Labour red pink and red – pale, weak and unimaginative. The type and layout is equally dated, lazy and formulaic.

3. Picture(!).
There is one picture on the entire site. One visual. A photograph of a girl looking through a pair of binoculars.
A box with the main slogan “Towards a progressiv century” is tucked into the bottom right corner of the picture – as if to somehow justify the use of an image that is entirely unrelated to either progress, policy discussion or political vision. Clarke/Milburn choose to sell this journey towards a progressive century – by in effect draping a scantily dressed women across the bonnet of a dull Volvo 240 stationwagon people carrier (..To use an extreme, but sadly appropriate metaphor)

In a very brutal way, the opening page – which should draw people in and encourage discussion, fails in itself to reflect the message that they supposedly want to convey.

It is only the first day, and the contents will – when it starts coming in – hopefully lift the quality somewhat…
But until the design reflects the message, this project is going nowhere.

UPDATE:
Despite having taken a curious liking to the design, Daniel Finkelstein on Comment Central makes a characteristically interesting point on the effectiveness of participatory debates as a source of renewal in Political parties.

UPDATE 2:
Leading article in The Times.

UPDATE 3:
Another problem has been brought to my attention, that I didn’t pick up on regarding the design. A much more important issue than anything I mentioned. There are no threads in the debating forums. So rather than real debates on issues, all you have is a list of uncategorised opinions. This is a vital point, but one that quite easily can be put right if the people behind the page are as serious about discussion as they claim to be.

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