Friday, October 20, 2006

How unprofessional is that?

The last Labour MP to resign was Brian Sedgemore, he 'crossed the Rubicon' to support the Libdems at the height of the 2005 General Election. No great loss perhaps thought Blair, but the timing was unpeccable in order to gain maximum media coverage. That, we hear, is the professional way to communicate; that all communication must be aimed at gaining attention. This is as true in this political era as it was previously, though the tools may have changed a little.

And so we turn to the reason for posting: Clare Short, a confirmed anti-Blair maverick, has gone independent. Why? And more important, why now? There are countless moments when this gesture could have not only had an impact but been seen as a principled move. She opposed war against Iraq, but retained ministerial trappings until her credibility had been dashed. Then she stepped down from the front bench and the media said - So What? Tonight she earned fourth place on the BBC news and few will see this as anything but another less than credible act. It was intended to be an anti-Blair statement, but the timing is highly questionable. Had she resigned in a years time, in opposition to Brown's contination of Blair's political trajectory maybe it would have been newsworthy; but as a comment on the legacy of Blair it is ineffectual.

So here is the conundrum - Why resign? Was there a last straw? Was it just a case of things came to a head in her mind? Should she consider the media's demands or how they may comment on her departure? The media think she should, as these questions were all posed in a way to make her look like one of those famous 'flip-flops', just unable to make up her mind or to make the right decision.

So was it a meaningful move or not? Was it another, perhaps the last, maverick act of a career maverick? Does the move make her unprofessional in her timing? How should history judge Clare Short's stance over the last three years - opportunist or devout Labourite hanging on hoping for a leftward swing?

Spin - the human condition?

I want to put forward a hypothesis - we all tell lies from time to time, true? yes? We will flatter our friends, tell them they look good to make them feel good etc. We will also make ourselves appear better than we are. How many times do we tell someone when we are late that insurmountable problems caused our lateness, not the truth that we couldn't put down a book, had to finish the level on the game of the moment, took too long getting ready or actually couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. All of these things we do!

Yet we expect more from politicians, and in fact one small lie (white usually), one small deviation from the pure unaldulterated truth, and they are damned. Are we expecting too much. I don't suggest this out of a love of all those who enter politics, far from it, but from a recognition of them as human beings who share all the same foibles as the rest of us. Equally I want us to consider how new spin is. We may see it as an invention of Blair, Mandelson or Campbell (Alastair of course), but do you really beleive that spin was post 1997 only. There are famous examples from history, but also there are many instances we may wellbe unaware of - as it is only since there were rottweiler political PR men badgering journalsits that there was the rise of the rottweiler journalist who actively sought out spin to report it to a shocked nation. So should we not just accept spin as normal and not castigate the politician; or is there another reason for us getting worked up when we detect a lie from our leaders?

The First Post

This is the first post, hopefully one of many. The idea of this is to put some ideas out there and see what happens. My research focuses on political communication and how that uses the tools of public relations and marketing but without the sophistication.
Many may already think at this point what sophistication? What does this mean? Well here is the problem. Richard branson spends a fortune on marketing his companies and himself, he uses PR to the max, yet we trust him don't we? Certainly the public have general positive attitudes towards him despite his profits, wealth or disasters. Yet when a politician speaks we here the word 'SPIN', we block our ears, we ignore it - not maybe all of us but enough to concern the political classes. But the answer has been to look to corporate communication (PR & Marketing), the rsult seems to be the reduction in engagement, not an increase. I don't necessarily want to offer reasons at this stage, they will emerge, I would prefer to get a sense of how people view politics and its discourses, collect ideas and perhaps see why others out here in the blogosphere may think political communication is unworthy of serious attention.