Political Promise

Tears of Propaganda

In Matthew Wheavil on February 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Emotion is the new rhetoric for the Labour party, apparently. Even Alistair Campbell, the steeliest spin-doctor of our time, was capable of shedding a tear over the “constant vilification” of Tony Blair and Iraq two weeks ago.

And then, yesterday, Gordon Brown poured his heart out in front of the nation, opening up about the loss of his child to Piers Morgan (arguably the tackiest excuse for an interviewer next to Jeremy Kyle).

It is probably no small coincidence then, that the recent poll figures placing the Conservatives at 40% (11 points ahead of Labour) were released last week. The stain of unpopularity on a Governing party is almost always impossible to remove. It would probably take David Cameron flying over to Iran and giving President Ahmadinejad a big sloppy kiss for Labour’s electoral fortunes to turn around.

So with words only serving to dig the hole the Labour party are currently standing in deeper, they’ve started crying in the hope that they’ll float up to the surface again. (Yes, I know, that was an utterly ridiculous metaphor).

This is of course a little bit harsh considering that Brown has been through genuine tragedy that I for one certainly couldn’t begin to imagine. But why discuss it now? How could it not be staged with a few months to go before the general election?

While party leaders tend to be one of the biggest influences on a voter’s choice, ‘wheeling out’ Brown’s human side could prove disastrous. Many people have said that they feel sorry for the Prime Minister and having seen his tears, the public might just feel like giving him a sympathetic pat on the back, whilst casting their vote elsewhere.

Brown has been one of the unluckiest Prime Ministers of all time, having had to spend most of his leadership trying to fix an intensely deep recession. It is a bit harsh to blame him entirely for it – recessions are a facet of capitalism and a global problem. The world will always boom and bust in a seesaw motion – it’s the natural consequence of societies based on excess.

But many tend to blame the current Government of the time for the current recession of the time. If the Conservatives were currently the Governing party, would Britain have begun recovering by now? It’s hard to know and it does make sense to think that despite his fumbling, Brown’s economic experience has somehow steered our sinking ship through the worst.

But Labour’s unpopularity is not just about the recession. The ongoing expenses scandal has demonised British politics in people’s minds more than ever. Brown’s Government has come across as the least trustworthy with three Labour MPs having recently been charged over false accounting.

Cameron on the other hand has tried to claw his party out, threatening to sack any member who so much as breathes the word ‘expenses’. A clever move as while no party has come out shining with credibility, taking an aggressive stance has probably made the Conservatives look more electable.

So Labour’s only option is to show emotion and express vulnerability because some voters might just trust it.

Having said that, it didn’t work for Hillary.

Matthew Wheavil

  1. Got to be honest, from what I’ve studied on the issue (my dissertation is on political leaders), I’ve found that leaders tend to matter very little come election time.
    I do however think that the tv debate will be important as it will be the most visible display of party policies on show come election. The leaders themselves will matter little I think, unless they are convincing of policies.

  2. Policy definitely should be the most important basis to vote on – I was considering writing a different article noting that Labour had some great policies such as electoral reform but seem far more focused on changing Brown’s image.

    I find it hard to believe leaders matter very little – when jo public approaches me about the election they tend to say “Why should I vote for him” – i.e. Brown or Cameron. There seems to be considerable focus on personality politics.

    Although maybe it’s the media that’s focusing it that way and people are more savvy than I give them credit for. I haven’t researched a dissertation on it so I won’t argue with you – In fact, I hope you’re right!

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