Monday, January 10, 2011

That's Mr Prime Minister to you Ed

The beginning of the second series of The West Wing depicts how, then Governor, Bartlett, got elected for the first time and how his team of advisors came to be. There’s a fantastic scene where his early advisors (who are subsequently sacked in favour of Josh, Sam and Toby) are telling him that he has to stop calling his opponent by name. “Well what should I call him then” cries a frustrated Bartlett. “My Opponent, or the Senator from ...” they reply.

The point being that using your opponent’s name just helps the public to know who he is, increases brand awareness for them, and therefore doesn’t help you.

It’s an interesting idea and clearly someone on Ed Milliband’s writing staff was given the West Wing box-set for Christmas and has got to the beginning of series two in their break. However they’ve decided to take a different message from it.

Regular blog readers will know I love to Wordle a speech or article to see what the key words are and last week Ed Milliband wrote a piece for the Times in which he attacked the “Conservative Deceit” over the deficit. The piece has been taken apart left right and centre for just how wrong, and indeed deceitful it was, but what interested me was the way he talked in it.

There wasn’t one primary word that popped out above the others (see below), but there were instead a handful of common words, Labour, VAT, growth, Osborne and most interestingly Mr.

It turns out that every time he referenced the Prime Minister or Chancellor he called them either Mr Osborne or Mr Cameron and this is something I’ve seen Labour doing elsewhere as well. Clearly someone in Millband’s team thinks that reminding the public that they are the PM and Chancellor and therefore in charge and therefore making these tough decisions isn’t a good idea. It also to an extent belittles them somewhat and I suspect someone thinks there’s a touch of class warfare in there too.

Bootnote: Interestingly I’ve noticed that Tim Montgomerie  has done the same thing in a recent article reviewing the PM’s performance on Marr, only calling him Prime Minister once. Does this say something about how he views the PM as well?

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