Thursday, 26 March 2009

'The Devalued Prime Minister' - YouTube turns Daniel Hannan from unknown MEP to internet celebrity

In a little over 24 hours Daniel Hannan has been transformed from an unknown Conservative MEP to a viral internet celebrity - with nearly 1 million views for a speech he uploaded less than 48 hours ago.

UPDATE: Impact of the 'devalued Prime Minister' speech on Wikipedia traffic here

Daniel Hannan made a speech at the European Parliament on Tuesday in the presence of Gordon Brown. Daniel Hannan referred to Gordon Brown as, amongst other things, 'the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government':

Whilst the speech gave Gordon Brown a public mauling, it was hardly reported in the UK press. However, video of the speech spread rapidly on YouTube, becoming the most watched video globally yesterday (and there are now 390 comments on his personal blog about this speech.) The virality was also aided by coverage in the US media from outlets like the Drudge Report and Fox News.

The Hannan speech has been searched for extensively and the speech has also been widely picked up on blogs, forums and social sites like Twitter:

Google Trends shows increase in searches for Daniel Hannan (click for larger image)

Twitter Streamgraph shows volume of discussion of Daniel Hannan since the 'devalued Prime Minister' speech
(click for larger image)

So is this a one-off or does this mark the arrival of YouTube as a real force in British politics? I'm not sure. On his (Telegraph) blog Daniel Hannan claims to be 'slightly perplexed' as to why this has happened, but I think there are a number of reasons:

- Timing. Daniel Hannan's speech has clearly struck a chord with significant numbers of the public, on both sides of the Atlantic. In one moment his speech has become a rallying call and a focus for anyone who is disenchanted with the current state of the economy either in the UK or in the US and with Gordon's US trip + the G20 summit the timing couldn't have been better.

- Production. The length of the speech, the easy soundbites and the way it was delivered suit the medium of YouTube perfectly. If you read this script in print it would have hardly been noticed. It's only when it can be seen and set against Gordon Brown's reaction that it becomes interesting for people (the easy embedding and linking from YouTube also helps it to spread quickly.)

- The lack of mainstream media coverage and the element of unknown challenger giving well known heavyweight a kicking (if David Cameron had delivered that speech would it have gained the same amount of coverage?)

I think YouTube is becoming more influential in UK politics, but I'm not convinced that this is a watershed moment. Yes, the way that this video has spread has been fascinating, but I think it is the result of a number of things coming together at the same time - however this time it maybe more luck than judgement?

Related posts
5 examples of how YouTube influence is growing in UK politics


Unknown said...

Good insightful post Nick and agree with your points on why it has hit a chord with the YouTube community. On top of that I think it seems natural. It's not like when politicians try to get down with the kids with Twitter and Facebook and fail completely.

Nick Burcher said...

An element of 'difficult second album syndrome' now - how does he follow that?!

ukipwebmaster said...

This is now rising fast on YouTube and was the speech that preceded Daniel Hannan's: