When I was writing the Landin’s Line blog during the election campaign, I wrote about how I was sickened by every opportunist under the sun grabbing Barack Obama’s ‘change’ rhetoric, from David Cameron to a Camden Lib Dem who more or less copied the Tory leader word for word (a foreshadowing of the coalition?).
As I wrote then, ‘change’ is a lazy campaign slogan. When I’ve raised this before, its perpetrators have begged for forgiveness with mantras along the lines of
1. ‘it sums up the campaign’
2. ‘we want all sorts of changes’
3. ‘we want a change in MP/councillor/whatever’.
To start with (1) there are plenty of ways of summing up a campaign in a single word – and a more descriptive one, such as ‘fairness’, ‘equality’ – or perhaps ‘selfishness’ ‘capitalism’ or ‘individualism’ in David Cameron’s case. (2) is at best offensive, suggesting the public cannot grasp what changes a party/candidate will actually make, and at worst an attempt to deceive the public – after all, we may not like the changes the party/candidate want to make. As for (3), one would hope politicians had something positive to offer about themselves as well as simply saying ‘anything is better than X (even a slug)’.
So anyway, with the end of the election campaign, I thought I’d seen the end of the ‘c’ word for another four years. My heart almost skipped a beat with joy when I heard the coalition were going for a fixed term. To think I wouldn’t hear the word until 2015. But how stupid of me. Sitting at the top of my email inbox as I arrived home the other day was a circular from mayoral candidate Oona King. It’s subject? ‘Let’s change London for good’.