Chadwick, Daniel J. (2017) Did political parties in Rossendale and Darwen effectively manage their party brand during the 2015 General Election? Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Political branding is a comparatively new area of research which is becoming of increasing interest to political parties, practitioners and academics. The ever increasing interest around political brands, highlights the importance of furthering the limited understanding of the subject area. This study, using a multi-method qualitative research methodology, determines whether political parties in the marginal constituency of Rossendale and Darwen effectively managed their overall party brand during the 2015 General Election. This research furthers the understanding of political brands and the core elements within it, whilst trying to determine which element, if any, has the greatest influence on voters perceptions of the overall party brand.

The aims, objectives and research questions have been answered by a critical review of the academic literature on the topic and undertaking primary qualitative research; in the form of focus groups with Rossendale and Darwen constituents; and interviews with representatives from the main three political parties which stood for election in Rossendale and Darwen in 2015. The conclusions which have been developed evaluate whether or not the three main political parties, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party effectively managed their party brand during the election and determines the influence each element of the political offer has on influencing the overall party brand.

The research established that the Conservative Party was the only political party in Rossendale and Darwen that effectively managed their overall party brand during the 2015 General Election. Participants were aware of, understood and positively perceived Conservative policies and the overall party brand which portrayed economic competence and steadfast leadership. The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, was a crucial element of the party's brand and was integral to the management of the overall image and electorate’s perception of the party.

The research concludes that in order to effectively manage the overall party brand, a political party must have a strong political product offering. To be successful, the political offer requires clearly defined and relevant policies; a well positioned and differentiated party brand that the electorate is familiar with and understands; and, finally, the party must have a strong and steadfast leader that posses prime ministerial attributes and can effectively communicate and engage with voters. The research has concluded that of the three political offer elements, the leader is the most important and has the greatest influence on voters’ perception of the overall party brand. The leader is essential in ensuring that the electorate is aware of, understands and is engaged with the party’s candidates, leadership, policies and ideology, particularly during an election campaign.

FINAL THESIS - Chadwick.pdf - Accepted Version
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