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Good luck, Jonathan. You’ll need it.

Good luck, Jonathan. You’ll need it.

11 September 2014 | Lloyd Hughes

Here in the UK there’s political turmoil as polls suggest that Scotland is drifting closer and closer to a ‘Yes’ vote for independence. A survey result earlier on this week that put the ‘Yes’ campaign one point ahead of the ‘No’, has led to panic amongst the three main parties in Westminster. For the first time in a long time we’ve seen them united in their stance; we’d all be better off together.

Now there’s no real surprise there. Cameron would forever be known as the Prime Minister that oversaw the breakup of the 300-year Union. Miliband recognises the fact that Labour would be unlikely to gain a future parliamentary majority with the loss of its Scottish Labour heartlands. And the influence of the Lib Dems would similarly be weakened if left-leaning Scotland jumps ship. Therefore all parties have a vested interest in keeping the UK together.

In a bid to stall the ‘Yes’ campaign’s momentum the trio have abandoned PMQs this week and legged it across the border to try and douse the flames of pro-independence that threaten to take hold.

Personally I’m worried that their influence could be an accelerant rather than a retardant with Lance Corporal Jones of ‘Dads Army’ fame making another appearance in my blog, as I picture the political elite charging north, collectively shouting ‘Don’t Panic, DON’T PANIC!’

Whilst the unholy trinity insist this approach was ‘all part of the plan’, Alex Salmond is crowing triumphantly that it’s panic stations in London and the ‘No’ campaign is on the run. It’s hard to disagree with him, as the reaction seems distinctly kneejerk.

We shall have to wait until next week to see if this last ditch desperate begging fails and the United Kingdom as we know it is no more. What is certain though, is that if this does happen the political landscape will be changed forever and the fragmented UK will be heading into turbulent waters.

In the event of this tumult there’s at least one thing (amongst many, of course!) that I’d like to think doesn’t happen. I sincerely hope that the respective social media teams of the three main parties don’t form a collective hashtag saying #bringbackourscots.

A few months ago you may have noticed that there was a concentrated global campaign to raise awareness of the plight of more than two hundred Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram. This was widely covered by media outlets across the world and generated a social media campaign led with the slogan #bringbackourgirls.

The #bringbackourgirls appeal saw celebrities and Hollywood stars tweet an image of themselves holding up a piece of paper with the hashtag written on it. Unsurprisingly these celebrity appeals didn’t wash with Boko Haram and the girls are largely still missing but also largely forgotten by the wider media. I’m always sceptical of celebrity campaigning. Yes, it does help to build awareness, but in the main part it’s also a self-serving ‘look at me’ action from fame hungry egotists, which often dilutes the importance of the message.

Whilst the predicament of the missing girls has fallen off the news agenda elsewhere, the #bringbackourgirls campaign still has widespread resonance in Nigeria. But unbelievably it seems that supporters of current Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan have decided to put their own spin on the hashtag as part of the campaign to see him re-elected.

A group of supporters recently began using the hashtag #BringBackGoodluck2015. It has since appeared on signs and banners across Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Considering the fact that Goodluck Jonathan, as the incumbent president, has failed to do anything to return the girls in more than one hundred and fifty days since their capture makes the choice of wording breathtakingly poor and demeaning towards the families of the abducted girls.

The use of it has seen a backlash in Nigeria. Goodluck Jonathan has distanced himself from the use of the slogan saying it was never officially endorsed. He’s done so with good reason, as it seems to have massively backfired. Thousands of Nigerians have poured scorn on its use via social media pointing out that, despite promises, Goodluck Jonathan has effectively done nothing and the situation hasn’t changed.

I assume the thinking behind it was based on the fact that the original campaign was one of the most successful and widespread social media drives there’s been to date. It’s shame that they didn’t think beyond this.

Poorly managed campaigns that lack the necessary forethought invariably set themselves up for a fall. Goodluck Jonathan must now start on a course of damage limitation, whilst the British political party leaders make a desperate bid to prevent the breakup of the UK. In both of these instances, poor planning and a lack of foresight sets alarm bells ringing and causes frantic PR fire fighting as a result.

Here’s hoping the alarm bells aren’t ringing too late in Westminster.