Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Moving Australian working families forward with a great big new tax

Can anyone familiar with PR and/or media training please explain to me the reasoning behind advising pollies (for surely they must have been advised; they can't be doing anything this stupid off their own bat) to just keep plugging away with slogans despite the fact that it makes everyone in the country want to take to them with a baseball bat after they've heard it the first ten times or so?

Is there some deeply rooted belief that slogans will sink in if repeated often enough despite conscious resistance to them? I do not believe that this is true. None of them have sunk into me yet, nor into anyone with whom I've discussed it. Every time Kevin Rudd said Working Families I thought Christ this is a stupid slogan, it doesn't even make sense, unless you picture tiny tots being shoved up the chimneys or down the mines. Every time Tony Abbott says Great Big New Tax, all I think about is how pathetic and unrealistic people are who expect the guvmint to do stuff for them, like build roads and provide hospitals, with fairy dust or leprechaun money, and I redouble my commitment to paying tax even for stuff I don't personally approve of. (Someone who wants the guvmint to support opera needs to be pretty generous in her tolerance of supporting the Institute of Sport, after all.)

And now we have Julia Gillard chanting Moving Australia Forward, another bit of meaningless wankery. No, no, let's move Australia backwards. Eventually we'll bump into South Africa. (And won't that be fun.)

Gillard is a very very bright person and must be aware from her years in the law how easy it is to irritate and alienate the people you are talking to. She gave Working Families a fair old nudge herself when she was Deputy PM and there's obviously some heavy pressure coming at her from somewhere to keep this chanting up. But why? And from where? And why don't the pollies rise up in a bipartisan body and say No we're just not doing this any more, it makes us look like idiots? And who invents these mindless little choruses in the first place?


Lord Sedgwick said...

"And who invents these mindless little choruses in the first place? "

I blame the garcons and garconesses with ponytails or excessive hair gel who like long lunches and who have unlimited access to the coloured pencils in Powerpoint box.

cristy said...

Maybe a lot of people are just comforted by repetition and familiarity? Certainly things seem to go most poorly for politicians when their policies seem to 'complicated' or they are perceived to be 'talking over people's heads'...

It might not seem as mind-numbingly repetitive if we weren't paying it so much attention and a lot of people don't. They live their lives outside of the political bubble and only tune in every now and then.

Liam said...

Heh. The Hope and Change effect.

Is there some deeply rooted belief that slogans will sink in if repeated often enough despite conscious resistance to them?

From the people I've spoken to who make the slogans up, PC, that's exactly right, and what's more, the effect's measurable. It's not designed for you; it's meant for the people as Cristy says who don't go out of their way to read about politics or political ideas.

Mindy said...

@ Liam

Is it too late to become one of those people? Like when you come out of the Matrix?

Liam said...

Is it too late to become one of those people?

On the contrary. It's Time!™

TimT said...

Most people would agree they're stupid.

The problem comes when journo person comes to edit a report for telly or radio on Important Political Developments, possibly facing extreme time constraints, and pressure from network to make the story simple and sellable. Hence he or she gets the pollies thoughtful and passionate speech to the media, goes snip-snip-snip, and reduces it to something slightly less than the bare essentials.

So polly slogans are designed to get as much coverage in this medium as possible.

This might also explain the awkward nature of Rudd Rhetoric – a series of polished political slogans jammed together.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Of course it's also the case the I am easily irritated by verbal tics (this blog doesn't have an 'Irritants' tag for nothing, and the main reason I mistrust anger is because I am so prone to it myself -- it's genetic -- and know that it is treacherous and irrational), as I was reminded last night watching Bob Hawke and Blanche d'Alpuget talking to Kerry O'Brien. I thought d'Alpuget was great -- open, fearless, articulate, fair-minded -- and mostly so was Hawke, who, even at 82 or whatever he is, compares very favourably with contemporary political leaders of any stripe, but I see he hasn't got out of the narcissistic habit of referring to himself in the third person, which drove me bonkers in the 1980s and still does drive me bonkers.

Lord Sedgwick said...

Well, Hawkey was a great bonker.

Quality or quantity one can only speculate.

Looking forward to part 2. (And in this sort of milieu Red Kezza is at his best.)

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I'm well over Red Kezza as well, actually (speaking of narcissists ...), though I agree that in some ways he was pretty good with B1 and B2, possibly because he's the same age as Blanche and was already an experienced journalist when Hawke was PM. The idea that the point of interviewing is to either (a) win, (b) get a scoop or (c) make your subject cry is one that I wish would just disappear. The pushing of both Hawke and d'Alpuget about Keating got excessive, and the pushing of Hawke about his daughter was just vulgar, sensationalist and cruel. I think the point of interviewing is to make the subject comfortable so that he or she will say interesting stuff. Not controversial, not sensational, not secret, just interesting.

cristy said...

Which is why 'Enough Rope' was so fabulous. Andrew Denton is a bit of a gem.

Link said...

After my initial annoyance trying to work out what exactly a working family was--was it a prophetic term? Mum, Dad, the Kids and the dog all working to generate tax dollars and/or how one could do anything other than 'move' forward (into the future) . . . I hear such phrases now and know it's time, to switch off and stop listening.

I would very much like some brave comedian to snare Ms Gillard on national telly and tease her mercilessly and without relent about her using such nonsensical claptrap. Public humiliation is probably our only recourse to sanity.

Lord Sedgwick said...

Don't disagree with any of that (and I did think bit about Bob's daughter lurched towards the gratuitous hoping for a welling of tears) but he's better (or is it 'more palatable'?) in this milieu.

Haranguing is tedious.

Link said...

the pushing of Hawke about his daughter was just vulgar, sensationalist and cruel.

Agreed. It was very bad form. Hawke handled it with dignity. What an insidious position to be in.

Mindy said...

What is really getting my goat at the moment is Tony Abbott's 'advice' to Julia.

“I think she should get on with government,” the Opposition Leader said in Queanbeyan.

“That's what I've always said. I think that the government should get on with the job of governing Australia."
Source The Australian 13.7.10

What on earth does he think she's doing, and why does the think anyone needs his advice?

Ann ODyne said...

Cristy (comment above): Precisely.

7:30 viewing - surely Mythbusters beats ABC?

On topic: why do they keep plugging away? They think The Electorate is STUPID. They stare across the table at other politicians who prove it.
I look at some of those nitwits and wonder who would tick their name on a ballot.

Mark Bahnisch said...

Just on the media/pr question, the rule of thumb is that you keep repeating it til you personally feel like vomiting. Most people pay only very intermittent attention to political news, so a lot of people are hearing these phrases for the first time at the point at which those of us who are news/politics junkies are thoroughly sick of them.

As to where they come from, teh focus group. Julia Gillard has been doing a better job than KRudd of reflecting back the sort of language that comes up there. As promised!

For a truly bizarre take from the PM on why "moving forward" is actually her personal philosophy, and absolutely central to our national values, blah, blah, see the text of her speech in Adelaide yesterday embedded in this article at The Drum (horrible formatting...]


Legal Eagle said...

Yeah, I hate these slogans too, PC. But I guess we're not the target audience, as you've said. Nonetheless, I do get the urge to throw something at the TV.

I'm over Red Kezza too - as you say, very narcissistic.