Soapbox 8: It’s getting shouty

Soap box
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During the election campaign, we’re sharing the best and the worst of political communication. There’ll be no party bias here. We promise to praise everyone and spare no one, despite what we secretly think. Here’s what we’ve spotted in the last 24 hours or so.

The Metaphor Fruits – some ripe, some rotten

In a campaign criticised for a lack of big ideas and vision, a well-considered metaphor would go down a treat (not literally). Iain Duncan Smith made a stab at one (the vicious brute) in the Telegraph yesterday:

I just think if people just lifted their heads up and we could look at the horizon, it looks fantastic. But we’ve got to get there. If you don’t do it, then the horizon disappears and we end up in this never-never land of France.”

As any fool knows, you can’t get to the horizon, nor does it ever disappear. Apart from at night. And what Peter Pan has to do with it I don’t know.

David Cameron went for something simpler, but just as weird:

Nigel Farage is the back door to a Labour Government.

Not an image that is easy to conjure, and unhelpfully distant from the idea that he’s trying to get at – that if people in certain constituencies vote UKIP instead of Conservative then there might be more Labour MPs and a Labour Government. Unless he means something completely different.

Later, and not for the first time in this campaign, Dave used a firefighting metaphor, this time on the stump in Twickenham:

I feel like the firefighter, hosing down the burning building. And there’s Ed Miliband, the arsonist, saying ‘why aren’t you doing it quicker?’”

Pretty strong stuff to call Ed an arsonist. And some real firefighters, feeling badly treated by Dave’s Government, are not too happy about him dressing up in their uniform.

Nick Clegg celebrated Star Wars Day yesterday (you know, May the Fourth) by going all metaphysical. Apparently he wants to give the party that gets the most MPs “the space and the time to try and set up a government”.
Unless he’s got Dr Who on the team, that’s going to be a tall order.

For the Greens, Caroline Lucas spoke out against the stench of tactical voting:

[Voters are] fed up of voting with a nose-peg over their noses.”

I don’t really know what a nose-peg is, but I can think of no better use for it than applying it to the nose.

Ed gets stoned

Rejecting metaphors altogether, someone in Ed Miliband’s team decided it was a good idea to quite literally carve Labour’s pledges in stone. My problem with the ‘EdStone’ is that the pledges are too vague. Miliband’s version lacks the ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’ of Moses’ original. To be fair, there’s more detail on the party’s website, but the pledges as carved contain almost no measurable commitments. Not so much ‘Thou shalt not murder’ as ‘Hmm, murder, we need to think about that’.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

After the tricky task of finding a positive way of presenting the Lib Dems in the campaign, Nick Clegg seems to have settled on his Wizard of Oz metaphor. He’s repeating it repeatedly, frequently, continually, again and again:

The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government, and a brain to a Labour one.”

It’s odd that he’s settled on this line because, if you follow it through, Clegg is the Wizard of Oz himself – a leader with no actual powers who breaks his promises then floats off leaving the rest of them to run the country without him.

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