Political Promise

Style versus Substance

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 11:10 am

Seven days is a sizeable period of time in campaigning terms, and the three main parties have been grasping every opportunity to get their party in the spotlight. The 2010 election is about pervading every sphere of our lives by infiltrating through the realms of internet, dangling wives in front of the camera lens, and having a frenzy of satirical posters to undermine the other parties’ respectability. But is this really going to be what gives one party the edge in such a tight election campaign?

Finding that integral balance between style and substance is easier said than done, and it seems that style is currently prevailing. We all know that in politics there is a lot of rhetoric and oratory, but in a bid to grab the attentions of those who are disillusioned it has become ever more customary. Firstly, there is the involvement of the wives. It is a clear battle of the ‘S’s’ as Samantha Cameron and Sarah Brown are doing all they can to make their husband’s appear as affable men, and their party as the party of the people. Sarah Brown set off campaigning with her husband immediately once the election date was announced, and has been frequently accompanying Gordon since. Sam Cam (having acquired her own nickname demonstrates her relevance in today’s media) went off campaigning solitarily and has set up her own ‘Samantha Web Cameron’ blog, she is also often alongside David acting as his ‘secret weapon’ in his campaign trail. In addition, the two wives have been recurrent features in women’s magazines, making politics available in the simplest of terms to even the most disinterested of women. This is yet another opportunity that Nick Clegg appears to have missed the boat for, as instead of participating, his wife Miriam resolved to stick to her ordinary life with job and kids and help out only ‘when she can.’ But in all honesty, do we really care about our leader to be’s other half at all?

If this bid to win our attention is failing, then there has been a salvo of posters around to catch our eye. Labour have had a good shot at billboard mania with their picture depicting Cameron as Gene Hunt from Ashes to Ashes and the claim that he will take us back to the 1980’s economic and social turmoil. However, it seems Brown may have made one of many misjudgements here, as Cameron comes across as young, cool, and modern, easily contrastable to Brown himself. The Conservative Party hired Saatchi and Saatchi again in order to bulk up their attacks on Brown; the most eye catching poster perhaps the one of Brown beaming, reading alongside ‘I doubled the national debt. Vote for me.’ Not only is there this satirical wonder, there are in fact several variations of the poster highlighting all of Brown’s failures, such as taking billions from pensions and letting thousands of prisoners out early. This is possibly the best attempt we have seen at reconciling the gap between style and substance.

In terms of substance alone though, Cameron has been accused of making his policies on ‘the back of an envelope,’ Brown of having ‘an empty budget and empty pledges,’ and Clegg is complaining so much about the opposition’s lack of substance that he is subsequently veiling over his own.

So who do the electorate think is managing integrity of policy and personality? The polls are volatile at this stage, initially in the campaign showing a 10 point lead for Conservatives, dropping then to 7 points, and as of today, according to The Times, the Conservatives are back at the 40% milestone. Although Conservatives are the front runner, none of the party leaders have found the point of equilibrium as of yet, and unless one can manage it the polls are unlikely to settle. Let’s hope the release of manifestos this week can clear the muddied waters.

Nicole Berry

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