A few weeks’ ago I watched the ex-Labour MP, Chris Mullin, taking about his diaries on one of the BBC’s book shows. At length the conversation turned to Andy Coulson and the Conservative Party’s increasing skill with political communications.
Mullin said that the Conservative’s use of two specific sound-bites had been particularly successful over the past few years. The first was ‘Gordon Brown’s debt’ and the second was ‘The mess that this Labour government got us into.’
Both, of course, were designed to sell the deceit that the budget deficit was the fault of the last government and not the bankers.
Obviously the first of the two phrases is now obsolete, as Gordon Brown is gone and there is no longer any need to saddle him with blame. But the second of the two – ‘the mess this Labour government has got us into’ – still seems to be in good circulation. I noticed it appeared almost daily in the broadcast media over the past week and I suppose it will linger on for a while yet. Meanwhile I am waiting for the inevitable arrival of ‘Cameron’s cuts’ from the Labour benches, which seems too obvious to ignore.
Sound-bites are always associated with the rise of New Labour in the middle 1990s. In his book Great British Speeches, Simon Heffer uses Tony Blair’s ‘Forces of Conservatism’ speech as a model of new and ‘enormously politically successful’ style of communications which is ‘neither fine rhetoric [but] a succession of slogans and brusque statements issued one after the other, in the hope that they will penetrate the subconscious of the listener.’
I was perhaps a little young too remember many of the New Labour sound-bites in the mid-1990s, although I do faintly recall the party political broadcast below, which represented a more enjoyable form of electioneering: ‘John Mayor’s Pork Pie Factory.’
Image credit: Sghosh30