Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Do we need a re-brand???

. I was a little surprised to receive an email from Chandila Fernando; at least it shows he is campaigning to the wire. The first plank of his 'radical agenda' is calling for a re-branding of the party which he says is dated and makes us "look, act and feel like a 1980's brand".

He is right to argue that brand is important in modern politics at least as far as perception plays a powerful role in determining voters attitudes. Unfortunately, he is totally missing the point of the core problem with the Lib Dem 'brand'. The core problem with the Lib Dem brand is this; we are not seen as a party that can credibly form a government. The notion that what has made the Conservatives credible is they have exchanged a torch for a tree is simply facile. What has made them credible is that they have mastered how to convey pithy messages while being a functional opposition.

His reproduced quote from The Times to support his claims that what needs to happen is we need a 'sexed-up' image does little to boost it's gravitas. The very tone of his comments makes me think he is not the right person to carry through any re-branding because he doesn't have any ideas to address the core issue which is the one above. If we do re-brand we need to do it with the above in mind; we need to show we can govern and function as an opposition and get it done. In this sense I think 'Make it happen' is a good slogan; we need to be showing examples of where we actually make it happen and build on them.

13 comments:

Miller 2.0 said...

"The core problem with the Lib Dem brand is this; we are not seen as a party that can credibly form a government."

Absolutely agree with this. This is largely due to being small, PR, and occasionally a lack of policy proffesionalism (witness the European consitution debacle).

For me, it will always be impossible to make the Lib Dems look like a credible paarty of national government. LD's often use the fact taht the party does not rely on Trade Unions or Business as a selling point; this is rather counter-materialist... you need cash to gain power, and to gain cash, and indeed positive publicity, you need some sort of social movement or bloc.

The Independent doesn't count.

Though I have many issues with the LDs (relatively minor compared to the tories), this is probably the main one, and is the chief reason why I never joined them as a younger person. In other words, I support trade unionism and collectivist notions of democracy alongside the individual vote on party policy.

Anonymous said...

You got an email from him not because he is campaigning to the wire, but because it was sent out by Cowley Street!

You will have got one from Ros and Lembit too...

Darrell G said...

Anon,

-blushes- fair cop and so I have...forgive me for being a little youthful in terms of my experience of how these things work in the Lib Dems

Miller,

We are in a chicken and egg situation here. I have to say elsewhere; on Liberal Conspiricy I have argued that it is perfectly possible for socialists or people who regard themselves in a similar vein to vote Lib Dem....

I don't think it's impossible, just hard work. You do tend to need a social base and that is indeed something we lack which both Labour and the Tories have (who, for example, would we regard as our 'core vote'). It requires bottom-up building and to that degree I can understand why localism often rears it's head in these discussions although this is not an end in itself, it needs to be linked to a national narrative.

It is why I didn't join the Lib Dems first I have to say though and ended up in Labour during early spells of my political life....

asquith said...

Fernando is, in my humble opinion, a very dangerous extremist. He wants to castrate membership to remove any members' influence, just like libertarians want to shrink the state so small that democracy will become totally irrelevant.

This is because he knows most members disagree with his libertarianism & he wants, thereby, to deny you a voice.

Hiding behind all that glib, detail-free PR is a very dangerous beast.

Darrell G said...

I tend to agree with the broad thrust of what you are saying Asquith as I have said before I don't really approve of the whole Fernando program because it seems very ill-advised to me and totally the wrong direction for the party...

asquith said...

Perhaps his hope is that even though his campaign will lose, his ideas will get discussed & hopefully become more popular.

But in trying to do this he may fail & galvanise opposition to the more "enthusiastic" libertarianism...

It's funny, I was always more Liberal than SDP, I've argued against the likes of Geoffrey Payne (& in fact yourself) many a time, & I've even been called right-wing... but we're on the same side in this instance :)

Darrell G said...

Perhaps that is his hope but I can't see them being accepted on a wide-scale....

Indeed, this is true....I remember our discussions well...just goes to show that bridges can exist across the ideological divide :)

thomas said...

Who is the LibDem core vote?

I'd've thought you depend on people to vote for you who are capable of independent thought rather than trotting out the same old recieved wisdom about why grandfather should sit at the head of the table.

I never thought the trade union movement was incompatible with this form of liberalism.

Darrell G said...

Thomas,

A good question Thomas which I dont know the answer too....

Just because social groupings tend to vote the same doesnt make them all sheep...it means that people in similar positions orientate in a similar way which isnt exactly unnatural or odd...

Totally agree with your last point by the way...there is no reason why trade unionists couldnt vote for our program....

left-leaning liberal said...

Asquith,

Fernando is already 'Director' of Liberal Vision - elected by nobody, just like the 'Chairman'(sic) Mark Littlewood.

That body is linked to the wider Progressive Vision project and supports extreme libertarian positions which are opposed to the policies and practices of the party.

These connections are being airbrushed out of his woeful presidential campaign publicity - wonder why ?!

Mark Litlewood said...

I'm really glad I logged on to this blog after reading Darrell's comments on LDV.

I'll only reply to the last post, which makes Liberal Vision sound like the equivalent of the conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.

It brought a big smile to my face. Of the same length and type when I read the nonsense pumped out by believers in alien abduction.

Neither Chandila nor I are elected by Liberal Vision. We are - effectively - self-appointed. Then we have to compete at party conference, in the media and more generally - in the public arena - to have any effect.

I make no apologies for this. How many of our party's federal reps do you think got more than five people to vote for them? That's not democracy, it smacks of addiction to procedure.

At the Presidential hustings tonight, Ros Scott made a very good point indeed. She said we mustn't confuse elections with democracy. Bang on.

The idea of an "extreme Progressive Vision project" has me rolling on the floor with laughter.

God, only knows - in particular - why this is against "the practices" of the party.

Two blokes set up a think-tank and argue for what they believe in. And this is subversion?

Certain things are being "airbrushed" away? What century are you living in?

If it is wasn't so quirky, I might say that such a view is against the practices and principles of the party. It sure as hell isn't a liberal view.

But it definitely made me laugh. Out loud.

So, for that, my heartfelt thanks.

Darrell G said...

Mark,

I presume you are replying to subsequent comments not the actual post.

Elections are an important aspect of democracy; an aspect meaning they dont, of course equate to its totality which is as far as our agreement would go.

Your blueprint for this party is to totally disenfranchise the members, to take democracy away and that is why I am opposed to it. On re-branding you dont want to address what I see as the core issue which i pose in the post.

I'm not sure subversive, sure set up your think tank and argue away but ultimately you must submit to the democratic process and I hope that process is what will dismiss these ideas.

thomas said...

Interesting.

Is the ability to set up a think tank (with a hefty wodge of cash) of equal value to the ability to get (five?) people to vote for you?

Who should get more airtime?

You decide...