When BBC interviews start by identifying certain phrases and asking if they can be avoided, you can be sure that means that those phrases are pure marketing talk and hold little in the way of factual claims.
We’ve all heard it, laughed at it, and have created multiple forms of verbal bingo to celebrate this phrase’s use. Theresa May & her conservative marketing department are shamelessly attempting one of the most common tactics to affect the way people think…
“Repeat something often enough and people will start to believe it, regardless of if it is true or not.”
Now, we have to ask ourselves, are the words Mrs May is repeating a lie or not. I would argue that she is neither telling the truth or telling a lie – simply making a statement, very clever Mrs May, now we can’t simply say that you are being untruthful.
“Strong & Stable” is mostly being referred to in the direction of “leadership” – that at this time the country needs “strong and stable leadership”, of course it does, no-one wants a countries leadership to be “weak & wobbly”.
Propaganda lesson #1
The conservatives have provided a statement that you cannot disagree with.
So what is the problem here? Quite simply it is that despite the words spoken, or the truth of the statement, it doesn’t actually give us a valid reason to vote Conservative. If you vote simply based on a vacuous statement such as this then you aren’t really understanding that we are supposed to vote for the promises a party makes in its manifesto, the actual policies.
Watch the Andrew Marr interview with Theresa May, and ask yourself – where is the substance on policy, does she actually answer any questions sufficiently and why when challenged does she continue the empty rhetoric?
Propaganda lesson #2
Message visibility is easier when you have national tv time and advertising budgets
Of course, repeating the simple, vacuous words won’t work if nobody hears them! Luckily for the conservatives, they are blessed with worldwide media coverage, by default, because they are the current government. You would think that give the fact they have an unending supply of airtime that would be enough to get the message out there, and if the message was backed by substance it would be. In this case though, people very quickly realised it was a slogan, a soundbite with little substance – but yet the message keeps on being used. Why? Because that repetition is the key to successful propaganda.
It is no surprise that on the local election day, in key seats, the following advertising appeared on a range of local newspapers:
It’s not subtle, it’s not explaining how a conservative government will benefit our NHS, our Schools, or our public services. It’s just a declaration that “strong and stable” is the same thing as “Theresa May”. Let’s just stop for a moment to acknowledge the fact that it isn’t the same thing.
This isn’t the last blatant opportunism that the conservatives will use over the next few weeks, these are dirty tactics that you can only employ when you have that advertising budget to pay for it.
Propaganda lesson #3
Create a new reality that reinforces your message
Along with the simple statement “strong and stable” we’ve also seen a new reality being constructed. One that tells of all the other parties being “NOT” strong and stable. The phrase the conservatives have attached to this is “coalition of chaos”, and is actually a complete invention with no factual grounding.
The ability to construct an opposing position to the “S&S” propaganda feeds on our very basic human need for stability over chaos. What is most interesting for me here is that despite the reality that the conservative government has actually created chaos for a large majority of the country, a new reality is being sold to them that they are the saviours FROM the problems of today. They have used similar tactics in recent years, demonising benefit claimants as “spongers”, disabled people as “lazy” and even nurses (who devote their lives to helping people) as “greedy”.
So what can be done… not a lot really. They aren’t breaking any laws, although their tactics are pretty immoral.
As a populous, at this time, when deciding who to vote for, we simply need to see this for what it is, propaganda rather than substance. Over the next few weeks, we will all get to examine the different party’s manifesto’s and THAT is what should determine who gets our vote, not an emotional slogan or subjective soundbite.