What is in a slogan?

So, the Conservatives will fight the election under the slogan ‘Vote for a Change’. This is a bad slogan; it’s dull, uninspiring and encapsulates the essential negativity of the Conservative approach. Contrast this with the Labour slogan of 1997 ‘Things can only get better’ and you can see how badly advised David Cameron is. This slogan resisted the lure of negativity and opted for a positive message which resonated with the electorate and shaped the negative rejection of the Major government into a positive desire for change and a Labour government.

It’s not all Cameron’s fault; it’s hard to make a ‘Conservative’ party sound like a radical force for change. Labour are much better positioned to be seen as a party of natural change. However, this new slogan will make more people wonder what kind of change they will be getting under the Conservatives and this is another reason it’s a bad choice. It makes the party vulnerable to attack on the level it has no positive vision and/or it as a party hasnt changed.

What about a ‘future fair for all’, the Labour offering? Leaving aside the embarrassment of it clearly being used before I find this one also a bit bland (similarly, I feel the same way about the Liberal Democrats who also will be using ‘fairness’). Fairness is an amorphous and relative concept and therefore is a tricky sell in a slogan. Since it means so many different things to so many different people I dont see it quite capturing the imagination.

At least the Labour slogan makes a stab at talking about the future which is one positive thing. However, I felt Labour was onto something with it’s ‘Fighters and Belivers’ camapaign which would have provided a better slogan. The idea of battling through tough times to change things for the better would have resonated with alot of people. Of course, what really matters is the ideas and policies behind the slogans but the importance of a good slogan in a soundbite culture should not be underestimated….


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About darrellgoodliffe


4 responses to “What is in a slogan?”

  1. mommsen says :


    Did I tell you recently that I really like to read your blog?

    If I didn’t, then let me do it now.

    The fact that I’ve written less comments recently should not be misunderstood. It’s got nothing to do with your blog, but with my workload. Currently I’ve got less time than before to spend time in front of my computer.



    You wrote: “it’s hard to make a ‘Conservative’ party sound like a radical force for change.”

    Maybe so.

    However, when Mrs Thatcher was the Prime Minister, it was not “hard to make a ‘Conservative’ party sound like a radical force for change.”

    Of course, today Thatcherism doesn’t work.

    I think it’s time for a U-turn now.

    But who will deliver?

    Labour won’t do it.
    The Tories won’t do it.
    The Lib Dems won’t do it.

    In the UK a part of the problem is that even critical papers like ‘The Guardian’ do not really like controversial discussions about the UK’s economic policy.

    In Germany it’s the same. The mainstream media do not publish controversial articles about our country’s economic policy.

    As if we had not many reasons to rethink the policies of the last two decades.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Glad you enjoy the blog and dont worry about not always commenting. Thank you for your contributions which are always thought provoking and insightful.

    Agreed that Thatcher did make the Conservatives sound radical but in reality what she offered was less radicalism and more a steadying of the status quo with some radical ideas like ‘right to buy’ which enhanced the image of radicalism.

    Not only does Thatcherism not work today but it also did the ground work for the current crisis in squashing organised labour, driving down wages and increaseing debt. Especially with regard to the housing market it could also be said that the ‘right to buy’ has done something similar in increaseing debt burden.

    I agree there is a lack of space for controverisal ideas which like you say is a shame since new, truly radical ideas, are what is needed most now.


  3. Blanco says :

    For all its faults, Labour is the only party that comes close to an anti-Thatcher analysis, even if it has chosen to ignore that analysis for 15-16 years. The Lib Dems are either social democrats, who should be Labour members, or libertarians, who should be Tories.

    On the biggest issues, there are sometimes only two good sides. I know the Tories are on the side opposite me.


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I tend to agree. We will see that tension blow the Lib Dems apart in due course.

    Same here. For all the faults Labour has I remain clearly on its side and opposed to the Tories. Hopefully, in due course it will return thoughtfully to its past and constructively take forward those ideas that maintain their relevance with added emphasis today in the current economic malestorm.


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