I am not sure why politicians do it, but slogans so often comes back to haunt them, be it John Major’s ‘Back to Basics’, David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’, or New Labour’s pre Iraq ‘Ethical Foreign Policy’.
Some politicians aggravate the situation through gimmickry, such as engraving ‘A better plan, a better future’ on a 2.6 meter stone, Ed Miliband’s folly described by the journalist John Rentoul as the “most absurd, ugly, embarrassing, childish, silly, patronising, ridiculous gimmick I have ever seen”. One day he might say what he really felt about it.
Now we have the ‘Shared Society’. On Facebook today (9th January 2017) Theresa May wrote: “So, as we move through this period of great change for our nation, this government will seize the opportunity to build the shared society by embracing genuine and wide-ranging social reform. We will move beyond the narrow focus on social justice – where we help the very poorest – and social mobility – where we help the brightest among the poor.”
John Rentoul, again, speaking on the BBC News channel at lunchtime today cast doubt on whether we will ever hear the expression again. It is, of course, so easy to ridicule a soundbite. “Hug a hoodie” (Cameron never actually said that). It is also very easy to use imagery to juxtapose reality.
My photo of the day, taken in central Brighton while Mrs May was using the phrase “shared society” in her interview this morning with Sophy Ridge on Sky News, is the ultimate challenge as to whether the shared society will ever be more than a mere slogan or soundbite.