There have been no posts for the last week or so as I've been away on yet another holiday, but kept in touch with affairs through a daily readying of the Guardian. (I used to regards not reading the daily paper as part of any holiday, but now that they've hooked me onto their voucher system I feel that, since I've paid for it, I need to get my moneys-worth.)
Last Saturday an article by Jonathan Freedland warned Labour that they needed to speak "in a language people actually use." The same advice applies, in spades, to we Liberals.
Freedland isolates the "simple metaphors" which the Tories use and repeat ad nauseam so that, amplified through the megaphone of their supportive press, they become "received wisdom, even common sense" rather than "statement of political opinion" (or, in my view, downright lies), viz:-
- the Tories were "clearing up the mess left by Labour;"
- the previous government had " 'maxed out' [on] the nation's credit card;"
- Labour had failed to "mend the roof while the sun was shining;"
- Tories, by contrast, were "balancing the books" so that "we live within our means."
Even though they have so distorted recent history that they have conned their way back into government, the Tory deceptions still continue. George Osborne has introduced an "emergency" budget. What emergency? Why was it necessary barely four months after his previous budget in which Britain, according to him, was “walking tall again” and in which he urged us to " go on working through the plan that is delivering for [us]”?
By another sleight of hand he has renamed the minimum wage the "living wage" giving the illusion that he has adopted one of Labour's policies. His measure is actually only a minor improvement on the existing minimum wage, and has no connection with true living wage as calculated by the Living Wage foundation.
If we are to put an end to this nonsense in five years' time the left as a whole needs to develop a suitable vocabulary.
We Liberal Democrats are probably even more addicted than Labour to abstract nouns: liberty, justice, internationalism, participation, engagement, devolution, partnership, democracy, community, constitutional reform, etc etc.
Once we have defined what it is we still stand for, and that is the first task for our new leader Tim Farron, our communications experts, if we still have any, need to put their minds to explaining our vision of society in a language which resonates with the ordinary household. In this sphere, to adapt a phrase from history, we must "catch the Tories bathing and steal their clothes