4 million families will be affected by the new welfare cuts being passed through the Commons as we speak. 400,000 children will be plunged into poverty. And yet the Tories successfully claim the mantle of economic security.
Unprecedented cuts to the army and police. And yet the Tories succesfully claim the mantle of national security.
How is it, that against all evidence, as the deficit remains stubborn, the debt doubles, and Cameron is laughed off stage as a statesman, the Tories are so deft at selling a false message? CCHQ is a genius instrument. It’s incredibly well homed with messaging from, surely, the new Dark Lord Crosby. It has allies left, right and centre (Ok, mostly right); 70% of the press is Conservative supporting, the BBC is…well, scared shitless about its future. The Conservatives retain spectacular hegemony over national discussion.
The ‘long term economic plan’ and ‘Coalition of Chaos’ narratives, laughed and mocked on social media, destroyed Ed Miliband and delivered a majority for the Conservatives. And now it’s happening again; ‘security’ is once again the buzzword that will destroy Corbyn unless something is swiftly done. The attack ad and tweets that have attracted ridicule in the social media bubble will have hit home with ruthless efficiency for most people who only pay fleeting attention to politics in fast paced everyday schedules.
Corbyn has an air of superiority, having won an internal battle by rising above it all. He’s now trying to do the same, walking past cameras faster than that thing Dave does when finishing an interview. But it’s a bad idea, and it will destroy him like Miliband. Something Corbyn does have in his favour, though, is his ability to communicate, orate, improvise, and cut past crap. Miliband was decent and honorable, hoping that decency would shine through. He also wanted to rise above it. But he failed to connect on an emotional level, looked and sounded like a distant geek, and refused to confront myths and caricatures. Corbyn is straight-talking and utterly unique. But in order to avoid the same fate as Ed, he has to do what he’s been saying he’d do at hustings: myth-busting. Far beyond policy, this will have to be about himself and his credibility.
First, as many pointed out, his New Politics -so far from New Labour, will need a Spin Doctor or adviser. May I recommend the spectacularly self-aware Owen Jones?
Secondly, he’s going to need a coherent message that can cut through and past media and Tory messaging. The Miliband era was incredibly incoherent. Going from One Nation to a Better Plan (Why?!). Corbyn is better than focus groups, so he should show it and follow his instincts. He needs to do two things:
- On policy terms, and for conference, as I said before actually rather mockingly, was to have ‘Labour’s Coming Home’ as the motto for the whole 5 years. People will know what Labour is about and it will appeal to the audience he wants to attract. It will also be by de facto anti-establishment, and insurgent, so will paint any enemies as attack dogs.
- Specific to the security thread: counter it with go-to phrases about ‘Tory insecurity’. Again and again and again. Push it home. ‘Insecurity: Insecure jobs, insecure pay, insecure statesmanship, insecure cuts, insecure abroad, insecure at home’. This can’t be about altruism, it has to appeal to egoism. We won the ‘pioneers’ of the Cruddas report, the sumaritans, we now need those that put their own financial situation first.
Make them aware that they are the 99%. ‘You are the 99%, you are insecure, they don’t work for your security’. Because, as we know, they don’t. But we instead try to speak only to and of the ‘poor’ as a distant figure on the horizon, we need to tell people, not that they are selfish, but that they have insecurity in common. ‘This is an insecure economy.’ Even if they feel secure now, it is built on insecure growth in an insecure economy.
Messaging matters, consistency matters. Corbyn showed this spectacularly in taking down his rivals -especially Andy- in the contest. He now needs to apply it against the Tories.
So, *Blair voice* Consistency, consistency, consistency.