‘Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy’…and other slogans that are too long

It’s here. The election campaign has arrived proper. Arriving at my desk this morning following the festive fun, all prepared to begin the finishing touches on our next exhibition – Election! Britain Votes – the political parties have this weekend launched their campaigns. And the parties’ weapon of choice to begin the battle is the poster, an object central to electioneering in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Let's Stay on the Road to a Stronger EconomyDespite the poster’s venerable traditions commentators have been pretty scathing of the two most recent examples. The Independent’s Zachary Davies Boren thought the Tory’s ‘Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy’, ‘about as poor a start to a general election campaign as you can get’. Labour’s ‘The Tories want to cut spending on public service back to the levels of the 1930s, when there was no NHS’ which used a five year old image of David Cameron ‘not much better’. The road on the Conservative example is apparently German, generating significant complaints, one wonders who really cares. The trope of drawing the eye to a brighter future somewhere over the horizon is pretty common in the election imagery of both left and right. More usually a rising sun is involved. Useful are suns in campaigning, the recognisable image of a new dawn. A 1929 Labour Greet the Dawnexample on our galleries shows a family staring towards the horizon and a brighter future. From my point of view it’s not that the road pictured is German, or that Labour used an image from 5 years ago. It’s that the slogans of both are so long and so clunky. Even in 1970 people who devised slogans had to justify if they moved beyond a few words. Here in the archives at PHM we have material relating to the production of Labour posters from the 1970 General Election. Then Labour’s advertising devised the slogan ‘Now Britain’s strong let’s make it great to live in’ When it comes down to it aren’t Labour’s ideals yours as well? The advertising executives stated that the party should not be afraid of long slogans. After all, they were ‘asking people to think about things’. People need to think but surely they also need to remember? The Conservatives 1979 ‘Labour isn’t working’ or Labour’s ‘Because Britain Deserves Better’ from 1997 live longer in the memory than the current efforts. However, my view doesn’t really matter. When Election! opens on the 14 February there will be a section of the gallery dedicated to the 2015 campaign. Ever changing, it will reflect what the parties say and what the visitor thinks. Before that we’ve put up ‘Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy’ in the museum to see what people think – it’s a PHM focus group. And we’ll report back any thought- provoking comments. Election! Britain Votes opens on the 14 February 2015.


One thought on “‘Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy’…and other slogans that are too long

  1. Tony Abbot won an election in Australia the other year under a campaign slogan ” Choose real change. A stronger Australia. A better future” Syntax all over the place prone to being mis-said and utter bollocks…but he still won

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