Sky Bet DIDN’T steal Labour’s catchphrase. It seems Murdoch’s minions had it first

Bad news for everybody complaining about Sky Bet taking the slogan, ‘For the many, not the few’, from Labour: Sky Bet had it first.

This Site was alerted to the issue by a reader, who commented: “Have you noticed that Sky Bet on Twitter is using thd tagline “For the many not the few” a tag synonymous with Labour’s election campaign? While I realise it confirms Labour’s ascendancy I’m not happy about it. Can anything be done?”

A quick check on Twitter revealed a groundswell of indignation against Sky Bet for apparently stealing Labour’s thunder:

https://twitter.com/craigiobellio/status/884867765542191108

https://twitter.com/neilcgreen/status/888858403019395072

Labour started using the slogan after a speech by Jeremy Corbyn on April 29 this year. The online images followed soon after.

But here’s a Twitter advert by Sky Bet, using the line:

Look at the date on it: 27 July 2016.

Sky Bet was there first.

Perhaps Mr Corbyn was considering betting on Labour increasing the number of seats it holds in Parliament and had a moment of inspiration?

We may never know for sure.


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12 thoughts on “Sky Bet DIDN’T steal Labour’s catchphrase. It seems Murdoch’s minions had it first

  1. Colin

    Eh, Mike? Just did a quick corpus search and it came up with a Telegraph sketch lampooning Ed Miliband:

    “Badgers for the many, not the few…

    Ed Miliband unveils a startling new slogan as he faces David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions”

    Date: 16th Oct. 2013

    A Miliband slogan?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Was that just a one-off, from around 2014?

      Now that you mention it, I recall that I was quite pleased that he’d mentioned it at the time. I had been using some images that an online friend had created, with the Conservative Party logo and the phrase, “For the privileged few”, and his words dovetailed very well with that.

      I had hoped for more, but it seemed to die out, if I recall correctly.

      I’m afraid I wouldn’t be happy to say this was proof of Labour consistently employing those words, in the same way that Sky Bet has for the last year.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        But those aren’t the words being disputed – just a paraphrase!
        I agree that nobody owns a sound bite, but that doesn’t mean we should let people argue about them if there’s a clear answer as to who used it first on a regular basis.

      2. Colin

        To answer your question, Mike, not a one-off it would seem.

        The phrase appears regularly and repeatedly on the @UKLabour twitter feed from May 2013 both in @UKLabour posts and in replies.

        As you note, the first @SkyBet instance appears to be from July 2016.

        Based on a search of the phrase in the respective twitter time lines alone, therefore, I think it would be hard to argue from the results that Sky Bet used the phrase consistently before the UK Labour Party.

        However, the source of inspiration for UKLabour may well be different to Sky Bet’s. There’s a book by Robert Reich, for example, published in 2015/16 with the title ‘Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few’.

        What we can say for sure is that the catchphrase has an entirely different meaning in each context.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        The phrase appears regularly on the @UKLabour Twitter feed in posts from @UKLabour – from April 18 this year onwards.
        Prior to that, @UKLabour uses it once in September 2015.
        Yes, lots of people use it in their own comments, but that’s not official party use of it.
        Based on that, it is clear that Sky Bet was using it consistently – as a slogan – before Labour, in that Sky Bet started using it in this way in July 2016.
        The party and its members may have used it as an infrequent catchphrase, but that’s not the same thing.

    1. Jules

      Sorry….got confused. It was Shelley who said it 1st..I was sure Marx said it as well. My memory must be going.

      But I love that poem by Shelley

    2. Mike Sivier Post author

      It’s not about who said it first, though; it’s about who first used it as a slogan on a regular basis.
      And Shelley’s words are different.

  2. Jules

    Rise like lions after slumber

    In unfathomable number

    Shake your chains to earth like dew

    Which in sleep have fallen on you –

    Ye are many, they are few.

    Percy Shelly

Comments are closed.