Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

It’s the Message Not the Man That Matters

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 2nd September, 2012

Today’s papers and the blogosphere are full of speculation about whether Nick Clegg will or will not face a leadership challenge from within the Liberal Democrats before the next General Election. This is a predictable topic in the run-up to the party’s conference due to be held in Brighton later this month, but the Deputy Prime Minister has been coming under heavier fire than might be expected, with some activists even calling for him to go now and to be replaced by Vince Cable. Now had Vince Cable stood in the last leadership election I would almost certainly have voted for him, and he would quite likely have won. But he was reluctant to put himself forward because of fears he would be considered too old, given the mauling poor Ming Campbell got in the Press on that score. I know Vince sometimes regrets his decision and were an opening to arise he might well put himself forward this time. But I can’t help feeling that people are misreading the situation when they try to analyse why the LibDems have slumped in the opinion polls and ponder what can be done to reverse that trend. It seems to be a classic case of wanting to shoot the messenger rather than critically examining the message. It’s not the man at the top who is the problem, though he is facing an extraordinary amount of flak. Rather, voters don’t really know what the Liberal Democrats stand for anymore, which is why only the core support of around 10 per cent of electors is standing by us. To build on that afresh we need not only differentiation from the Tories but also a clear statement of what Liberal Democrats believe, as well as an exposition of how those beliefs are being put it into practice at local, regional and national levels. So the top priority is to get the message right. Nick Clegg has the communication skills to put it across as long as he has the right script. But the script itself is what is important, whoever takes the Liberal Democrats into the general electon and beyond.


3 Responses to “It’s the Message Not the Man That Matters”

  1. It is important to get the message across and also the realities that Britain faces. Ending the coalition isn’t going to fix things.
    The problems are long standing and there is going to be no return to how things were before the banking crisis of 2008.

    The Nation newspaper here in Thailand has a report of the return of Pin Chakkaphak to Thailand. Pin was the owner of Finance One finance company. He fled abroad after the collapse of his company during the 1997 crisis .Attempts to extradite him from Britain failed because of insufficient evidence of theft and now that the fifteen year period of limitation has passed on his case he has
    returned to Thailand.
    The financial crisis in 1997 caused a great deal of hardship in Thailand and other Asian countries. People lost their life
    savings, businesses and jobs. The first awareness of the crisis for some Thais was when they tried to spend baht at markets on the borders of Thailand. The sellers did not want to accept their money. As the crisis developed economic activity decreased as did the traffic on the Bangkok roads easing the traffic jams. There were calls for a “revolution”- a military coup- to put things right.
    I never thought Britain would suffer a similar crisis to that of the Asian crisis but it did. It will take years for Britain to recover and it will not be painless. For all those who think a “revolution”- an election- is all that is needed to fix things in Britain then think again.

  2. […] It’s the message not the man that matters by Jonathan Fryer on Jonathan Fryer. People don’t know what the Liberal Democrats stand for […]

  3. its not the message but the communication of that message. You are missing the whole point. No matter how good the message, or how often it is said, if it doesn’t get heard it is not down to Clegg or the party machine, it is down to the selectivity of the media, their agenda is rarely ours.
    Apart from our naive pundits assuming that the ‘free’ press are also going to be ‘fair’, the Party fails on two things: 1) try to find a particular policy on the website.. where is the policy index? It is time the site was re-built with the ordinary person in mind; 2) Communication fromHQ to the membership is almost non-existent. Our members should be ambassadors for the party, to be able to do that effectively our members need constant information, direct not from the daily papers. Talking of papers, our members actually have to pay extra to be informed through LDN. Our own paper should go to all members and to all political journalists. The circulation would attract advertising to pay for it.

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