Soundbite Britain: This is a game we can ALL play!

Here's a good anti-Coalition soundbite: It's based on a well-known saying and it tackles the falsehoods put out by Iain 'Returned To Unit' Smith.

Here’s a good anti-Coalition soundbite: It’s based on a well-known saying and it tackles the falsehoods put out by Iain ‘Returned To Unit’ Smith.

Sitting in the cafe yesterday, I was discussing the situation in Egypt with a couple of friends. One was getting quite heated because he considered the problem to have been created by the “fundamentalist Islamic government they elected”.

He said something like, “These fundamentalists promised everyone the world. They said they would make everything better, did whatever they could to secure the vote – and then once they were in power they forgot all those promises and did whatever they wanted instead. They got what they wanted from the people and then the people could go hang.”

I couldn’t resist. “So you’re saying they’re exactly like the Conservative Party over here, then,” I replied.

Laughter all around. We laugh because it’s funny and we laugh because it’s true. And because the only alternative is tears.

Let’s not dwell on the Egyptian situation beyond what I said afterwards – that the ‘Arab Spring’ countries seem to need help in establishing the basics of real democracy but there is nobody around who can provide it. They would (rightly) distrust any foreign power that claimed to offer help, but there’s no independent organisation that offers such a service either.

The UK would be one of the last places I would advise Egypt to look. Consider the last general election here. People with a lot of money to spend on it funded a hugely expensive election campaign to get the Conservative Party into power, in order to serve their interests which are to accumulate an even larger share of the available wealth, along with the power that goes with it, while removing and restricting the freedoms of the people from whom that wealth was to be drained.

Those people got involved in politics and worked very hard to make sure they got a government that genuinely serves their interests – selfish and cruel as those interests are. They ended up having to put up with a Conservative-led government, rather than a fully Conservative one, but are now working very hard to finish the job with a propaganda campaign – based on lies – that appears to be swaying public opinion.

So they say (and here I’m quoting Owen Jones in his recent analysis): “We’re clearing up Labour’s mess. Labour overspent and now we’re balancing the books. A national deficit is like a household budget. Welfare is out of control and lining the pockets of the skivers. The unemployed person or immigrant down the road is living off your hard-earned taxes. Labour is in the pocket of union barons.”

All of these are falsehoods. They’re lies. But they’re also very effective soundbites that stay in people’s minds and colour their perceptions of the way things are.

And those responsible get away with it, I’m sorry to say, because the people who stand to lose the most are lazy. They can’t be bothered to get involved and make sure the government they get is one that genuinely serves their interests.

Why do you think Her Majesty’s Opposition is filled with neoliberals who agree with the government that our public services should be carved up and handed to private companies, to run them for profit and not in the interests of the people? Why do you think the Labour Party has agreed to stick to Coalition spending plans for the first year of the next Parliament, if it gets elected? Why do you think Labour has stopped opposing social security policies that have been killing an average of 73 people a week (according to figures that are now well out of date, so the average today is probably much higher)?

Labour doesn’t stand up for you any more. That’s why it has had no effective answer to the Tory lies. The masses can’t be bothered to find out the truth – and certainly won’t lift a finger to get involved and stop the corruption that is eating our institutions away. But that is the only way it can be stopped. You stay away and they get what they want.

At this rate, we’ll all be slaves by 2020.

It doesn’t have to be so hard, though. We could all turn the corner, just by devising a few soundbites of our own.

I was thinking this last night, while I was writing a response to Margaret Johnson. Ms Johnson was commenting on a previous article as follows (apologies to anyone who’s offended; they’re her words, not mine): “It was Labour who signed up Atos, engineered so many civil service jobs that were not needed, opened the borders for the rest of the world’s trash to enter our country, brought in more taxes, actively encouraged the demise of manufacturing and the rise of the banks, signed up to allow Europe to rule us, doubled the rate for income tax for the lowest paid, gave GP’s 100K a year to work 9-5 Monday to Friday, got the most revenue in and still left this country in the worse mess ever.”

So we could say something like (and feel free to include ‘Liberal Democrats’ wherever I have mentioned Conservatives):

“It is the Conservatives who employed a private firm, paying £1 billion to ‘A-toss’ disabled people off the benefits they need to survive.” If Labour was doing its job properly it would add: “A Labour government would save that money by throwing Atos out”.

“No wonder the government can’t make anything work properly – they have been sacking all the professionals. More than 600,000 government employees will have lost their jobs by 2015, replaced by amateurs working for the Conservatives.”

“It’s strange that the Conservatives complain so much about immigration from Europe – they signed the treaties that allow it! The Conservative governments of Edward Heath and John Major allowed the free movement of European immigrants into the UK. Now they see it is unpopular, they want to shift the blame.”

“Simplified tax under the Tories mean the rich pay less and the poor pay more.”

“Conservatives destroyed Britain’s manufacturing base in the 1980s – at the same time they created the conditions that led to the banking crisis.”

“Conservatives want to blame Europe for your problems. Who will they blame when Britain is out of the EU and your problems have multiplied?”

Going back to Owen’s examples:

“Conservatives: The only people who think they can clear up a mess by making a bigger one.”

“Conservatives say Labour overspent – but they have always spent more than Labour. You can’t trust them to balance the books.”

“If the Tories handled their household budgets like they’re handling the deficit, they would all have been evicted by now.”

“Privatisation is out of control; the Tories are using taxpayers’ money to line the pockets of greedy bosses.”

“You paid for Iain Duncan Smith’s £39 breakfast. How much do you spend on your own?”

“The Conservative Party is in the pocket of big business and the bankers.”

Of course, the above are just essays in the craft of soundbiting; I’m just a beginner.

So let’s have a competition to see who can invent the best soundbite, challenging the government’s lies with facts!

Please send your ideas in to this blog – but also put them out to the national media as well, any way you can. Try to get anyone opposing the government to use them, because this may lead to them being picked up by the newspapers and TV news reporters as well.

Above all, please try to make this fun. A soundbite is many times more effective if it makes people laugh, and the Tories and Liberal Democrats are silly, silly people. Let’s bring that out.

Or is it too much like hard work after all?

72 thoughts on “Soundbite Britain: This is a game we can ALL play!

  1. voodooshacklady

    IDS cannot reasonably be expected to deal with uppity paupers and not regularly SHIT himself with rage. Therefore he must be allowed to claim this on expenses (or the Spare Underpants Subsidy?).

    1. franklin percival

      They help themselves to our money and then complain that there is insufficient to buy what we wrote on the shopping list.

  2. Helen Shipley

    ‘You don’t have to conservative to turn low income people against each other but it helps them either way.’

  3. Colin Taylor

    Who opened up Tax Loopholes for Big Business, whilst taking away tax Relief on Mortgages?

    Who announced in the March Budget the abolition of Dual MIRAS in August, sparking the Housing Bubble which burst in September?

  4. Darren

    Here’s a sound bite or 2 from me, an ode to Tories and their billionaire bribe masters…

    “Through hard work,
    regressive pay and taxes
    We carry your amoral,
    scrounging asses”

    “I bet Camoron’s billionaire bribe masters are dancing on Ivan’s grave.
    Not that he gives Atoss…”

  5. Colin Taylor

    If you see Sid, tell him his Grandmother won’t be able to afford to heat her home when British Gas is sold off

  6. beetleypete

    Good stuff Mike. But the worrying thing, as an ex-Labour supporter ( before Kinnock), is your confirmation that any New Labour government would change nothing. True,though that is, it leaves no viable alternative.
    Sorry, it’s not a soundbite, it’s a knuckle bite!. Regards, Pete.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I think we’re straying into advertising slogan territory now (and bad taste, too).

      For a political soundbite to work, it needs to be about a particular subject and – for our purposes – based in fact. I did try to make this clear in the article.

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  8. sp4mf15h

    IDS basing his policies on “beliefs” rather than statistics sends Tooth Faries onto workfare at poundland.
    Pinochio found fit for work by ATOS assessment despite not being a real boy. Ian Duncam Smith believes this is fair.

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  10. sparaszczukster

    How about:
    “Would you trust a man who lied about his qualifications and scrounges off his wife with the welfare of your disabled child? The Conservatives do.”
    and
    “Would you trust a man who sacks thousands of nurses but denies it with your family’s health? The Conservatives do.”
    And so on…

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  12. Colin Taylor

    Still Blaming the previous Administration after 3 years: No Responsibility
    Yet having the Power to put things right…
    Power without Responsibility: the Prerogative of the Eunuch!

  13. Colin Taylor

    Axing UK Forces whilst still engaged in hostilities just to bail out the Bankers: Madness

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  15. Iain Crawford

    Excellent post.

    However most people appear to be too busy to think deeply about current affairs these days. Too busy working perhaps. So a good sound-bite tends to be short and make a point about something that the listener already thinks they understand and care about. This tends to get peoples attention.

    Take the brilliant and thoroughly mendacious
    “Labour Max-ed out the credit card”or
    “Labour isn’t working” – They tick the boxes –
    Short
    Seductively simple
    Most people care about credit card bills or employment.

    Many of the suggestions here make perfect sense to those already engaged but not to the unprepared public.
    Too long and complicated.
    Trouble is many of us feel a need to justify our position in depth.
    The best sound-bites I can think of are-

    “The government is/are lying/liars!” or even shorter
    “Liar” or “Liars”

    or variations thereof.
    These will get attention particularly if repeated in parliament –
    (even better if it gets an MP suspended fight! fight! Anyone? ) as it is as it is difficult to ignore and so would generate discussion which is what we want because we have evidence don’t we.

    Less confrontational suggestions.
    “Why pay more for less”
    “Public services – provided at cost”
    “Privatisation makes employees poorer”

    Alternatively maybe Labourlabour’s needneeds a good advertising agency to devise their slogans.

    1. Mike Sivier

      This isn’t really going to get the Coalition on the run, is it? The idea is to attack Coalition lies with a bit of good hard truth and, while I’m not saying there isn’t truth in what you’re suggesting, it will only help the bloody Tories push their lies.

      1. Deborah Harrington

        Mike, I understand what you’re trying to achieve, but it is hard, isn’t it? The list published in the Express of the ‘top 10 benefit cheats’ seemed to me to be ripe for a riposte. What they have described is how a small number of criminals, engaged in wide ranging criminal activity and, in one case, stashing their fraudulent gains in an offshore account, had targeted and defrauded the benefit system. Sounds like the average Tory donor, doesn’t it? But the headline ‘benefit cheats’ is a winner for the Tories, reinforcing the prejudice that the bloke down the street with a limp is ‘putting it on’ in order to live in luxury at the expense of those in paid employment. It is, of course, nothing of the sort. It’s a story about criminals. Their sound- bite/ propaganda war is extremely successful. Damned if I can do it though, however hard I try. Of course, part of Ed ‘don’t call me red’ Milliband’s problem is that he has spent all his time as leader trying out sound bites (‘squeezed middle’) instead of attacking the criminal activity on the government benches.

      2. Mike Sivier

        If it is hard to get anti-government soundbites to fly, that’s partly because the Opposition is resistant to using anything that isn’t suggested by the Labour leadership and their advisors, who simply aren’t very good at doing it themselves.

        I didn’t waste my time on the Express story you mention because it concerned a small group of people who took a relatively small amount of cash, compared with the amount of tax avoidance going on at a corporate level. The aim, it seemed, was to conflate the two and make it seem as though these low-level perps were responsible for the massive cheating that has already been widely reported.

  16. Colin Taylor

    1981: John Nott’s Defence White Paper, proposed extensive cuts to the Royal Navy including the sale of the new aircraft carrier Invincible

    1982: The Falklands War

    1990: Options For Change: cutting total manpower by approximately 18% to around 255,000 (120,000 British Army; 60,000 Royal Navy; 75,000 Royal Air Force)

    1991: the first Gulf War

    2010: Strategic Defence and Security Review: The Royal Navy flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, to be decommissioned “almost immediately” rather than in 2014. The Joint Force Harrier aircraft to be retired, Massive cuts to all three services’ manpower.Replacements for the Carriers will not enter service until 2017 – the aircraft to operate from them not until 2020

    Are you feeling lucky?

  17. Colin Taylor

    Can you trust a Privately-Educated Education Secretary to know what’s best for the Public Education Sector?

  18. Colin Taylor

    This is the man who claimed to be able to live on £53 per week but when challenged to do so bottled out

  19. Colin Taylor

    The government has achieved its aim of being the “greenest ever”

    Another Fracking Lie

  20. Colin Taylor

    The government has achieved its aim of being the “greenest ever”

    It’s certainly the most inexperienced

  21. Colin Taylor

    This Government Commissioned Leveson to report on Press Standards…
    …then Ignored the Findings because they upset Murdoch

  22. guy fawkes

    “We all know Conservatives are CON artists”. then go on to explain how and why.
    Miliband is putting the Bore in labour though.

  23. PendanticGeek

    The future’s blight the future’s Tory.

    You can p*ss off some of the people most of the time; You can p*ss of most of the people some of the time but if you p*ss off all of the people all of the time they put you against a wall and shoot you.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The first one’s good; the second one isn’t because nobody’s going to put them all up against a wall and shoot ’em – much though they might deserve it!

  24. Darren

    Benefit claimants cost a penny
    Big corporations cost a pound
    So explain to me why catch a penny, when you lose a pound?

  25. Colin Taylor

    “I could live on £53 a week in benefits if I wanted to”…
    …So says the man who claimed £39 for Breakfast

  26. Colin Taylor

    £1 Billion allegedly lost to Benefit Fraud
    £25 Billion lost in Tax Avoidance
    Which would you clamp down on first?

  27. Colin Taylor

    Cameron’s Britain 2013:

    Zero-Hour Contracts, Wonga and Food Banks

    Maggie would be SO Proud

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