When The Independent Group launched in February, GK pondered the group’s possible impact on UK politics.
Now, a month into their existence, have they managed to maintain that momentum, and how the public have reacted after the initial burst of interest at the group’s creation?
We have taken a quick look at some digital data to find out.
While The Independent Group have a high number of followers on social media (204,000 on Twitter – the Labour Party has 660,000 and the Conservatives have 367,000), many of these followers were gained during that initial exciting week where everyone was claiming the new group could be the start of shift in the traditonal political party landscape.
In reality, like anything new, the intial interest has died down as Westminster got back to “business as usual” (or as much that it can during these uncertain Brexit times). As our research shows, search demand (which is a useful proxy for general interest) for “The Independent Group” peaked at their launch, and again in the following days as three Tory defectors joined.
However, since then there has been a continuously low level of people trying to find out information about them, which is potentially surprising seeing as they successfully tabled the Commmons motion that called for a second referendum, even though that motion was subsequently defeated.
The collapse in interest shows the real challenge for any breakway political party – how do you gain and maintain share of voice in a system that is set up to promote two party politics? It is the same challenge the SDP faced back in the 1980s and one that the Independent Group need to tackle quickly if they want to build a platform that lasts.
They also need to define their broader policy positions as soon as possible and communicate them to the public or they risk being seen as a one trick pony. As GK’s strategic adviser, David Laws, recently told PR Week: “The new group needs to calibrate its tone carefully and quickly move on to talk about more than Europe and anti-Semitism.”
by Charlotte Stockton