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How the politicians failed to get through to the voters

One of the reasons for the hung parliament produced by the general election may simply be the mediocre quality of the communications from the three parties.

In past elections, slogans such as the Tories’ “Labour isn’t working” and Labour’s “For the many, not the few” have galvanised the voters into making a clear decision in favour of one of the two main parties, and this time internet channels and the leaders’ TV debates provided extra scope for getting powerful messages across.

Yet according to research from polling company Populus, none of the key branding points of the political parties struck significant chords with the voters. The Conservatives performed best with their simple mantra, “It’s time for a change”, which was recognised by 54 per cent of the electorate as a key Tory campaign message.

Yet the next most recognised message “We are the only party that puts the family first,” from the Tories, scored only 35 per cent, while the Lib Dems’ top performing pitch was “We will clean up politics” with 32 per cent, equal with Labour’s “We will protect your police, your national health service and your schools”, also on 32 per cent.

David Cameron tried to make a big play with his Big Society theory but that was well down the list with 24 per cent, as the puzzled voters tried to work out just what he really meant.

It’s all going to get even more confusing, of course, as the partners in the coalition each try to claim credit for the things that go well and land their rivals with blame for the foul-ups.

So when the next election arrives all the parties will be desperate for much crisper and punchier propositions to make their brand stand out in the electoral market place.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.
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