Framing the message…

23rd June 2016, you probably remember where you were, you probably remember thinking “How did we lose this? How did this happen?”

There were many reasons, but one big one was messaging.

Messaging and, in particular, framing. Framing is how we approach an argument, the context we give to a debate.

You see, that figure we kept on disputing, £350m, only reinforced the Leave campaign’s message. Every time we presented the truth about this false figure we brought the topic of discussion, or the frame, onto the Leave campaign’s message.

Why are we giving money to the EU? Why do we give them control for money? These are the questions which the voters would be thinking about when that figure is debated. We reinforced Leave’s message. This is how framing works.

Framing matters, but we don’t talk about it much as Lib Dems. We are scientific factual people. So we talk about policy, and campaign tools, and how to increase membership; but rarely framing.

This is why I’m creating the “Lib Dem Framing Forum”. This forum is for Lib Dems to discuss, debate and ask about framing messages.

Have a local policy about pot holes you want to campaign on (of course, we all do)? Then use the Framing Forum to ask others how to sell that message. Want to debate national messaging? Then use the forum. Want to share knowledge on messaging? Use the forum.

It yours to use. Together we can raise the messaging in the Lib Dems, and through it, raise the status of Liberal values in the UK.

This forum obviously won’t solve all our problems, but it will help shed some light on what we want to talk about.

The 23rd June 2016, was a rough day for all of us. We can stop it happening again, and promote our values, our ideals. Get what we want done, done. We can get our message across, not theirs. We can bring the Liberal Democrats back to the forefront of forming the future of Great Britain again.

Let’s talk about framing. Frame what we say so people hear, and in doing so, win.

Find the Lib Dem Framing Forum here.

* Richard Maxwell joined the party in 2015 and has a keen interest in communications.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Nonconformistradical 15th Feb '18 - 5:17pm

    Apparently you don’t want contributions from non-Facebook users…?

  • David thorpe 15th Feb '18 - 5:36pm

    Excellent article and initiative-but yes I think you need to take it beyond Facebook.

  • I’m another non-Facebooker

  • I dunno, I think that when policies are not popular or elections are lost there’s a tendency to blame messaging and framing rather than rethinking policy. New Labour did a lot of messaging and reframing, as did this Party during the coalition years. I suspect it doesn’t work out that well in the long run.

  • Christopher Curtis 16th Feb '18 - 9:14am

    Policy and framing are equally important. There’s what you say, and how you say it.
    It’s vital to get the message right. It’s equally vital to get the impression or framing right.
    As a party we have control of our messages, but we still have work to do to get them clear and fully fleshed out. To give one example, we are clear on being pro-European, and on Brexit being a disaster. We still need to go further and flesh out what the benefits are of remaining committed to Europe and how that would make things better when and if we exit from Brexit.
    No party has much control of how those messages are framed in the media, though they can have quite a lot of influence. That’s the battleground on which politics is fought and I agree that we could be more effective strategically and tactically.
    This hit home for me in Boris Johnson’s ghastly speech. He started by describing the European project’s slow momentum towards greater political unity and how the economic framework was intended to support that. He took it for granted that this was a very bad thing and meant that we had to get out (though he never said that). I was thinking that rejecting this search for peace and unity, and making our unique contribution to moving it forward, was one of the greatest tragedies of Brexit. The framing of “we joined a common market and got sucked into a European Superstate against our will” is an appalling lie, but when we put most of our effort into talking about economic impact we tacitly accept it. That’s how framing works, and the Brexiters have been extremely good at influencing the media framing of the EU – Boris Johnson most of all.

    Incidentally, putting a forum on Facebook is not helpful framing.

  • Framing is very important. Getting the media onto your key topics is everything. It is more what people are talking about than what they are saying. Also looking at the feelings behind the message. Take immigration. Fear, self-interest and maintaining your perceived quality of life are all important so talk about how our policy deals with these.

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