As the effects of the council elections reverberate around Westminster, party strategists will be asking themselves what message got across to the voters and whether it was the one that they wanted them to hear.
I doubt it.
It seems to me that politics has been reduced below the level of Twitter and has reached the level of titter. Politicians such as the inestimable Margaret Hodge, and media tigers such as the Spoonerist Jim Naughtie were reduced to tittering, when Bill Dodwell, the head of tax at Deloittes, said that Starbucks didn’t make a profit in the UK. “How can you believe this?” they asked disparagingly. Dodwell replied calmly that Vince Cable had reviewed the situation and agreed. He could have added that HMRC had reviewed the situation and agreed it too.
We seem to be ruled less and less by facts, even simplified ones, and more and more by innuendo and insinuation. At the same time, Governments bemoan the fact that corporations are getting stronger whilst they are getting weaker. Hmm. Maybe these two facts are related? For whilst political parties spend a lot of time saying what they are going to do, and explaining why they haven’t done it or it hasn’t worked, the best companies spend less time saying what they are going to do and concentrate on reporting fully and accurately when they have done it.
But sadly this approach is becoming less common as directors and leaders share a growing belief that their stakeholders’ value rests largely in their Brand, which they promote in many ways. This gives the Twitterers and titterers opportunities to exploit and sometimes similar messages are so mangled that they can apply to either companies or parties.
I have picked up messages from companies which they would prefer that I hadn’t. Maybe they apply to our political parties too?
- From Google I get “We seem to have all the answers but you may have overlooked our further aims, which are less obvious (and frankly a bit worrying)”.
- What I have heard from RBS is “We borrowed far too much and messed up. But don’t worry we’re under new management now. And you can borrow again!”.
- I recall that MG Rover’s message was actually “We were a bit shabby but had some good ideas, like the Mini, worth taking over.”
- And now the predominant message I hear is “We listened to our customers and they told us to defer any serious decisions for at least five years.” But not from any company. No company would do this and expect to be taken seriously. Maybe the real message isn’t getting through David?