The new year has brought us a political communications onslaught. Someone probably let of one of the cannons at Edinburgh Castle or the Belfast fired a salvo to mark what will be 4 months of being blasted with a constant, 24/7 diet of political campaigning.
I’m sure the political junkies amongst you are really excited. Wow, more politics! Brilliant, there’s Cameron, May, Miliband, Clegg, Farrage etc on Question Time, Today, PM, Andrew Marr etc. Oh look, a hectoring piece about how the NHS will go down the can with the Tories in power in the Guardian. What about this hard hitting column in the Mail on Sunday bemoaning the “scrounging culture” engendered by Blair and Brown’s governments.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a combination of politically apathetic and professional communications advisor that I despair of much of the content and tone. There’s a dearth of subtlety and nuance. There’s little sophisticated oration. Speeches are designed to be split up and showed on TV, so they can often appear to be a collection of policy derived soundbites, rather than spelling out a narrative about why I should trust some independently educated 40 something that has only ever worked in politics with the future of our country.
Perhaps it’s because I’m related it immigrants, and wasn’t even born in the UK, but I despair of the UKIP led agenda around both the EU and our demographics. Of course the EU needs reform; it’s a political institution that blends the sovereignty of dozens of States. It’s complicated, which doesn’t help if you’ve got 200 words to grab the attention of a busy commuter in their morning paper.
It’s the same when matters of ethnicity are discussed. I’d be far more willing to engage with someone about ethnicity if I didn’t feel that their starting point was racially motivated negativity. “Bongo Bongo” and the like. Again, I don’t suggest that totally open borders are the answer, but after chatting to a few ‘Kippers, I came away with the impression is that they’d be happier with a far less ethnically diverse UK because “that’s the way it should be”. There are rather than more nuanced arguments than could be made around the economic challenges driven by a growing population dependent on low wage insecure employment / social security dynamic that makes like miserable if your called John Smith and you’re from Upminster or Piotr Pavlevsky from East Prussia.
I’m so dispirited by the main parties. How they don’t have anything new to offer. How it all feels so negative. They’re not selling hope, they’re selling fear. The whole process all feels so tired. The Lib Dems put themselves in an impossible position going into a coalition rather than a more elastic deal. I just don’t believe them. I work in the energy industry, so I’m never going to vote Green. My words above show you my feelings on UKIP.
Add this to the fact that my MP is in the safest seat in the country, as is the opposite party next door, and it all feels such a charade. You could take the same pig, swap the rosettes on its collar and it could win both seats.
It seems so fundamentally against everything I’ve been taught in different sorts of communications, where positivity and dynamism are valued. What your team can offer a myriad of constituencies. Don’t get me wrong, I love working out the political considerations for clients and considering messages that will chime with regional stakeholders. This however seems a world away from what political parties do to reach voters.
I don’t know whether these issues are all intractable. Perhaps there will be a revolution in political communications back to a more positive agenda.
Given the Scottish independence process, I wouldn’t bet on it.