Tag Archives: messaging

30th March 2019

I was in a meeting the other day, and someone (I forget who it was) asked an interesting question “What is the party’s message on 30th March” – a day after we leave the EU (if it happens). The answer seems to be we don’t have a message.

Potentially, what message can we have? I suppose that will depend on the situation we face on 29th March 2019. Below, I speculate regarding the focus of the message for the different scenarios we may encounter.

Scenario 1 – We call and get an extension before we leave the EU

We get a short extension where we don’t need to elect MEPs, or we get an extension, but we have to elect MEPs. If an election happens then it is likely a Brexit party will win significantly as will a remain party. The Tories may well suffer a significant blow to their MEP base.

What would Lib Dem message be around:

The inability of this government to agree on a deal. Following the result of the European elections will be a good indicator of what the public now think about Brexit. This in effect is an indicator for a people vote. Could the government ignore the results if it faced a crushing defeat? We would have a strong message not to leave.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 23 Comments

Metaphors Matter

It’s true, metaphors matter, and far more than you might expect.

As Lib Dems we need to realise something. We don’t think the way we should think, so we don’t win where we should win.

People think mostly using the subconscious. This is the automatic bit of our brain. Want to test it… what’s 3+5 = ? The answer comes quick to you. It’s automatic. Because you have existing structures in your subconscious to answer questions. You’ve answered that a lot in the past so you’ve connected the question and answer.

When you were young you might of used your fingers, or counted objects. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Are we getting the messaging wrong on Brexit?

Recently, an active and experienced Liberal Democrat campaigner challenged me over the party’s messaging on Brexit. He suggested that this was coming across as confused. My first instinct was to defend what we have been doing, but on reflection, I think he has a point. The aim of this article is to ask the question a little more widely.

From the inside

My impression is that there our parliamentarians and media office have been doing an outstanding job in trying to hold the government to account in the mess over Brexit, and of making people aware of this. I was in …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 39 Comments

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

What do you make of the “Vote her, get him” poster?

Vince Cable launched a new Lib Dem campaign poster today.

This is how he explained it:

This week has been about manifestos

To understand what is going on you have to listen to the voices of the people who are Mrs May’s cheerleaders and admirers.

Nigel Farage. He purrs like an elder statesman, his job done.

He said of the Prime Minister “she is using exactly the words and phrases I have been using for 20 years. I’m thrilled”

He should be. She has adopted wholesale the UKIP model of Brexit. No half measures. Out of the Single Market. Out of the customs union. Out of all the sensible cooperation around science and environment. The agenda of the hard right.

And not just on Europe. Do you remember the man who smiled with President-elect Donald Trump in a gold-encrusted lift? Who used his good offices to secure a meeting for our Prime Minister. Her hand-holding. Backing for the Trump administration. The close bonding. The treat of a state visit to come. Not that it achieved anything. The tough American trade negotiators have made it clear that economic size, not sentiment, determines priorities: the EU before the UK.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 95 Comments

Is there a defence against the dark arts?

This bizarre election campaign is based on building a personality cult around a virtual reality leader who can parrot well–rehearsed lines in controlled surroundings, but doesn’t have the guts to risk exposing her façade in a proper leadership debate. It demonstrates both the arrogance of the Tory PR machine and a press propaganda juggernaut that Putin must envy.

Behind deceptively simple messages there appears to  lie a skilful use of psychology, particularly an understanding of cognitive dissonance; the propensity to ignore, distort or misinterpret incoming information which does not align with existing beliefs or is otherwise unsettling.  The dissonance ramparts are not however impregnable; they can be breached, and an action tendency can be changed. Information that comes from trusted sources, or is otherwise credible, will sometimes get through.  During the referendum “project fear” and the denigration of experts was a clever device to offer wavering leavers licence further to indulge their dissonance and ignore powerful evidence to the contrary that might otherwise have triggered many voters’ decision tipping points.

Another tool being exploited is dissonance’s mirror image i.e. consonance. One way to achieve the desired acceptance of a new message is to tag it to an existing belief or to some information likely to be accepted as fact.  The widely expected difficulty of Brexit negotiations ought to work in our favour. it does not logically follow that the annihilation of alternative political voices or an awkward woman are the answer, but voters are looking for reassurance, for mitigation of perceived risk, and are taking these messages on board. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

“Don’t forget the congregation…”

As a long time supporter of the party, through good times and bad, I was, like thousands of others, finally spurred to join the party on 8 May 2015. My contact with the party had, until this point, been limited to the odd email initiated by donations made during the 2011 and 2014 referenda. The tone of these communications was correctly pitched and gave potential and actual supporters plenty of good reasons to lend the party their vote – I can’t say the same about the (particularly electronic) communication with party members.

Confession time; I haven’t been at all active since …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 24 Comments

Opinion: We mustn’t be afraid to attack the opposition when they deserve it

Many things are being written about the election we have just been through. I for one think this is great; everyone is engaged and wanting to examine what went wrong, how we can learn, what can we do next time. The key is that we’re all committed to rebuilding and giving it all we have again next time. This is really encouraging, so I wanted to add my own little insight and raise a few more questions for our campaign teams, local and national, to address.

My issue concerns the ever-dreaded ‘negative’ campaigning. It’s something we as Liberal Democrats really struggle with, especially at a local level. One of the biggest frustrations for me in all my campaigning roles I’ve held so far, is that the superb team of local councillors and candidates I’ve always worked with are entirely uncomfortable with praising themselves but even more so with blaming the opposition for things that they absolutely should be blamed for.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Ed Miliband has his economic deficiencies but is the Liberal Democrat response adequate?

I’m getting as fed up with arguments about the economy as I was about the quality of the debate in the independence referendum. We seem to be stuck in a yah-boo soundbite fest that is deeply uninspiring.

Ed Miliband’s latest contribution on the deficit was pretty risible if you looked at it in terms of facts. He’s opposed practically every single cut the Coalition has made over the last four years but presumably his “sensible cuts” won’t actually affect anyone. Of course he’s not actually told us what they are, so we can’t really judge. Our problem is that with the way our newspapers and broadcasters work, neither Labour nor the Tories have to be that good to get their message across. Already we seem to be being demoted to an afterthought in most news reports. We have to work ten times as hard as everyone else to grab even a tiny bit of attention.

The nagging worry I have about Labour appropriating policies like our Mansion Tax is that they can then position themselves to say “vote for us, we come without their baggage”. This, I grant you, is pretty much the same as “vote for us cos we’re fairer than them and more economically responsible than them” which seems to be our pitch.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 36 Comments

Opinion: We need to get better at talking up our achievements and rebutting the lies

Liberal Youth at Eastleigh - Some rights reserved by Helen DuffettI joined the party in the autumn of 2012; I did so more out of interest than any burning zeal, on the basis that the Liberal Democrats were the party I disagreed with the least profoundly, on the smallest number of issues.  In that time I’ve met wonderful, inspiring people, and come to feel increasingly that joining this party was one of my better ideas.

We are at a time of profound reflection in the Party; with that in mind, in the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 38 Comments
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