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Why politicians should film their own John Lewis Christmas adverts

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 01 November 2019

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will need to compete with Christmas for East Anglia's attention during the general election
Pic: PA

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will need to compete with Christmas for East Anglia's attention during the general election Pic: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

A December election is something of a novelty. How will the politicians compete for East Anglia's attention when the festive season starts?

It is almost 100 years since the United Kingdom went to the polls in December.

And Boris Johnson will be hoping there won't be a repeat of that result this time around.

Back then the Conservatives - led by Stanley Baldwin - won the most seats but a Lib/Lab pact saw Labour leader Ramsey MacDonald in Number 10 after voting down the King's Speech.

The Conservatives lost 86 seats - and unrest in East Anglia was partly to blame.

MORE: Is Boris Johnson set to switch to a safe Norfolk seat?

Thousands of Norfolk farmworkers took part in the Great Strike in 1923 which caused bitter divisions and sour industrial relations for years after.

As many as 20,000 fought for their livelihoods and against wage cuts after the government broke its promise to protect the price of grain after the First World War - a so-called "great betrayal" which meant wheat prices halved in value to about £10 per ton in just six months.

This time around it is unlikely Suffolk or Norfolk will have such a great impact on the result although there are seats that could change hands.

Back then, like now, the country was in a gloomy state. And a ruffled electorate - as we saw in 2017 - can upset the pollsters.

As it stands the Tories have a clear 17 point poll lead over Labour - not dissimilar to the lead Theresa May enjoyed going into that ill-fated election two years ago.

But even though they are the favourites there are nerves. One East Anglian Conservative said: "Hubris last time around has taught us a lesson. I think we can be quietly confident of getting a majority but we must not take our foot of the gas. We have to see it through.

"My view is Labour will not have the election they had in 2017. They are wounded now and they are not up against May - this prime minister is a much better campaigner than the last one.

"I just hope we play it straight if I am honest. There are people around Boris who like to do things that are rather unexpected. The thinking is that unsettles the opposition - but it unsettles me as well."

The "people around" the prime minister that source mentioned is Dominic Cummings. The 47-year-old is officially the special political advisor to Mr Johnson and his influence on this campaign will be huge.

Mr Cummings is a strong believer in the OODA loop theory. This acronym stands for observe, orient, decide and act and was developed by the US military.

Mr Johnson's attack dog believes the Tories need to get inside Labour's OODA. Basically do things they won't expect and catch them off balance.

Which brings me on to my next idea ...

Social media giant Twitter has shocked the political world by banning all adverts from parties - this will begin on November 22.

Compared to Facebook - who are not planning to ban political advertising - Twitter has proved to be a less fruitful ground of political parties in recent years. Yes, back in 2009 it was said Barack Obama won the presidency on the back of his Twitter campaign but since then people's appetite and the reach of political ads on the platform has waned.

But nonetheless this is a turning point for politics' relationship with social media. And maybe if Mr Johnson really does want to get inside Jeremy Corbyn's OODA he needs to think further outside the box.

So how about the prime minister turns his party political broadcast into a John Lewis-style Christmas advert? The nation loves the annual release of the advert which, for many, signals that festivities can begin.

And maybe Mr Corbyn could do the same?

Imagine Mr Johnson dressed as a friendly snowman dancing around Britain granting wishes (20,000 new police officers? New hospitals) while a stripped-back version of a song - that came out in 1997 and everyone had forgotten - plays out. Or a glum Mr Corbyn - whose Christmas wish is to live in Downing Street - gazes forlornly down Whitehall while a choral version of Seven Nation Army accompanies.

You might think I am being foolish - but in Mr Cummings and Mr Corbyn's advisor Seumas Milne we have a pair that are willing to do almost anything to get their man over the line.

And it will be difficult for the politicians to compete for the nation's attention when office parties start and the rush for gifts is on. Expect those advisors to try and get in our OODA loops as well.

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