1. Labour has created a clever website to give people their “NHS baby number” – where they come in the order of babies born on the NHS. In the process they’re telling almost every person in the country they have a personal connection to the NHS.
It’s all part of Labour’s decision to spend the summer campaigning on its commitment to the NHS. This is in part because they’re lagging in the polls on other major issues, such as the economy. But it’s also because the public don’t seem able to trust the Conservatives with the health service, according to recent research by Lord Ashcroft and YouGov.
Some voters in key constituencies that will decide the next general election are worried about the NHS, they don’t necessarily trust the Conservatives and they want somewhere to turn to. Labour hopes it can reach these floating voters via unconventional methods.
2. Enter your date of birth and you get a fun result to share on Facebook or Twitter.
But you’ve also entered your email, name, postcode and date of birth. And in the process Labour has gained quite a lot of information about you. It knows you’re interested in the NHS, it knows which constituency you live in and as a result it has the ability to email you with targeted marketing.
Tens of thousands of people have already taken the quiz and shared their results on Facebook and Twitter and each of those people has provided an email address and will now get targeted messages from Labour. This list will be very powerful in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
3. Most of the website celebrates the NHS while only subtly hinting at party politics.
There’s no traditional point-scoring where the site screams “the Conservatives are failing the NHS”.
But the website still makes it clear that the target to treat cancer patients was made under a Labour government. And in the process it implies that the NHS is now failing to meet such targets under the Conservatives.
4. That said, right at the end it draws on the emotional pull of Labour’s Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the NHS.
Here’s where the site forks: if you only visited for a fun NHS number then you can share the result on Facebook without appearing to be excessively party political.
But if you get to the end and really believe that there is a fight for “the survival of our NHS” then you’re encouraged to donate.
5. And this way Labour can get small sums from a lot of people. Which, given the shaky state of the party’s finances, is no bad idea.
6. Whether these tweets, Facebook shares and email addresses can be used to win actual votes is the next challenge for the party.
But clever sites that play on people’s emotional attachment to the NHS are an effective way of going about this without spending too much money. Have a look yourself.