Interview with Richard Barbrook, the digital guru of the UK Labour Party

Richard Barbrook Jeremy Corbyn

Richard Barbrook is the senior lecturer at University of Westiminister, co-author of The Californian Ideology, with Andy Cameron, and a the “digital guru” of the UK Labour Party. Labour currently holds 39% of the seats in the UK Parliament, is lead by Jeremy Cobryn, and its influence reaches far outside the UK. One of the recent more notable Richard’s projects was the Digital Democracy Manifesto which aims to improve the democracy process in the United Kingdom and to set a global standard.

I’ve known Richard Barbrook for some time and, although, I do not agree on everything he suggests I am influenced by his attitude and point of view. Below is a summary of my interview with Richard which I think is important for brand building and growth. Richard is involved in building one of the biggest brands in the world – socialism – and is very successful at it. The Labour Party success in the 2017 UK elections is the proof. Even though political ideas do not translate directly to business, there is a lot to be learned from projects of this scale.

I asked four questions:
1) What is the relationship between content and power?
2) Is The Californian Ideology still right?
3) How will Digital Democracy Manifesto change democracy?
4) Why did you choose to make the CorbynRun game to promote the Labour Party in the 2017 elections?

I did not publish the full interview because it was an hour long conversation. I decided to extract Richard’s main concepts to each question below.


What is the relationship between content and power?

“People do not make their own media, this is a problem.”
“Younger generation has a much wider source of news.”
“To have just one narrative is brainwashing.”
“Increasing only content does not lead to democracy.”
“Content does not work. Great Spectacle works.”
“Key factor for Labour Party was that we had alternative sources of news.”


Is The Californian Ideology still right?

“We were right!”
“In 1995 the only source of information on Silicon Valley was the Wired. There was no alternative.”
“The Californian Ideology became orthodoxy in California.”
“California got worst since we wrote The Californian Ideology in 1995. There is more disparity between classes and races.”
“They [USA government] have the money to afford Swedish style healthcare, but they just won’t do it.”
“The Californian Ideology is not anti-American.”


How will Digital Democracy Manifesto change democracy?

“How do you transfer power from the few to the many?”
“We want to try and use the technology to give people the power to participate in the democracy.”
“We want to supplement the democracy and empower people to participate more in the democracy.”
“Lots of people have the knowledge and we want them to participate.”
“The power in Britain is on the House of Commons, but there is no reason why we can not bring in the party membership and the electorate.”
“Digital tools are important, but are not a solution in itself.”


Why did you choose to make CorbynRun game to promote the Labour Party in the 2017 elections?

“It made a very important political point: banks will pay for the change.”
“We only had 3 and a half weeks to do it.”
“We got almost 2 million impressions on CorbynRun. The most successful project I have ever done.”
“We ought to do more games.”
“It is seen as a symbol of change in the Labour Party. We are younger.”


My conclusions

In a process of reaching a goal like changing the United Kingdom it is crucial to base all work on core values that customers accept. If all projects are not connected and all team members are not aligned, power is diminished. What inspires me about Richard Barbrook is his dedication to core ideology which focuses on the voters, his ability to transfer that to complex projects, and decades of his consistency.