Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Brown versus Cameron or One thing Labour are definitely not doing right (3/3)

Nick Clegg and the Clegg-mania rapidly engulfed all of the press and the blogoshere, for reasons we've already seen. But what about the two horses in the old two-and a pony horse race? (N.B. Polls show the pony has now grown up. We'll have to see if it's for real or not, or whether it just need to be fed some proper PR.)

The same thing we've seen in Nick Clegg is happening with David Cameron, the same projection of hope, like Change and the Big Society, give his speeches the sense of chasing a dream, dream realisable if they get elected. And even as the Lib Dems seem to have stolen the Change slogan for their own use, it still resonates with people who think this is (still) a two horse race between Labour and the Conservatives or with those undecided who may be leaning towards Clegg, but realise the chance of their vote being wasted. Summing up, Cameron may have better circumstances to present himself as a believable agent of Change, which he did throughout the debate. One ideal that the Tories can achieve (or at least that's what they say), thus one point for them.

Then, the Big Society (the meaning of which we still don't understand, but maybe that's the whole reason why it may be successful). Apparently, this concept has failed on the door step (I wouldn't know, no one had the courage to try and convince me). But there may be an explanation for that. I genuinely consider each party that does canvassing (N.B. not all countries do this to the extent to which it is done in the UK) need two types of discourse: firstly, the one they present to people in a tete-a-tete situation, when they can talk about policy and details on the economy, because at any point the person can stop them and say: Ok, that's all good, but what does that mean for me/for my salary/etc? This doesn't work very well in a televised debate, where the public cannot intervene, as if you talk only about policy details, it is extremely likely that most of the electorate will not understand everything you say or will just get bored as the can't truly relate. Going back to the initial example, people don't know that the UK cannot say no to a great percent of its immigrants, as they come from the EU and, thus, people won't blame the Prime Ministerial candidate who will choose to ignore that question. Let's be honest, the economy is quite hard to understand (my luck on the immigration is issue is the fact that I am an Eastern European immigrant who's done European Studies as her major), while also being terribly boring. Which is why, for such an event you have to bring out the philosophical issues, the fancy concepts, the ideals that guide you party... the Big Society. As I was saying, this concept didn't work very well on the doorstep, as just as it is rather problematic to define, it's hard to actually convince one of its direct benefits to one's persona. But it worked as an ideal, attempting to inspire people, in the debate. Another point for the Blue corner.

Hence, people need to aspire to something, they need to be told that things are going to be better and this needs to be done through this type of ideal, be it Change, Fairness or the Big Society, that can be easily remembered, because these are the first things that an undecided voter will remember regarding the parties and the candidates when he is in the polling booth, choosing where to put his cross. And it is here that Labour's gone wrong , in using the 'fairness' slogan just on their posters/leaflets and not linking to it in the debates, where they focused on policy detail ... and policy detail. Truth be told the only specific thing I remember from what Brown said is that, apparently, the Tories will take 6 billion out of the economy. Not inspiring. At all.

Indeed, many argue that not waffling about ideals and talking directly about policies is the way to go. (Explains why I liked him.) But even as that may be true for some of the electorate, the polls seem to disagree and argue that maybe a campaign based on a good 'ideal' is better. Concluding, it's Tory: Lib Dem: Labour = 2:2:0. Though, keep in mind, the lack of a good theme/dream is just one of the many factors that may have led to the failure of Labour's campaign ... while also accepting that when you're the governing party it's quite hard to find a new 'ideal' to strive for, especially when you're being accused of ruining the country for the past 13 years.

(Last post on the debates and 'How to win/lose' an election. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here).


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