Coming on ‘strong’

Parliament signed off ahead of the election yesterday with a final exchange of blows across the House floor. In what was one of the longest Prime Minister’s Questions in memory (58 minutes), Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn squared off for what could be the last time.

Both party leaders are on a crusade this election campaign, with Mrs May beating the drum for a Brexit that delivers for Britain while Mr Corbyn attempts to drum up enthusiasm for delivering a new social and economic order for the country.

For the final show of this parliament, the leaders and their teams were out to maximise the theatre on and capitalise on the inevitable media attention. Since this campaign began last week, Mrs May has been trumpeting the perils of ‘chaos’ – in coalition and Brexit, should the Tories not get their way, and this line was reinforced at PMQs with her use of the words strong and stronger which she used a whopping 38 times.

As a result, ‘strong and stable government’ and ‘strong and stable leadership’ are new entries into our sloganeering top ten this week.

Mr Corbyn misses a trick on the slogan front. While referring to millions battling to ‘make ends meet’ (perhaps an attempt to backspin Mrs May’s concerns for the ‘Just About Managing’ JAMs) he prefers to cast light on real people rather than spotlight political catchphrases.

While reading out questions from voters, such as one from Andy who fears his grown-up, employed children can’t afford to move out of home, is tremendously noble, it has all the adhesive power of a blob of Blu-tack that has been rolling around in carpet hair.

By comparison, Mrs May’s repetitive rhetoric is far more likely to stick in the minds of voters. The Labour leader needs to appreciate the power of punchy rhetoric. In these political times, style unfortunately carries as much, if not more, weight as substance…

Luan de Burgh

April 2017

Luan de Burgh is a speaker, writer and founder of The de Burgh Group – a specialist business communication training provider dedicated to helping people perform at their highest potential.