Conservatives a careless brand

First published on Brand Republic on 6 Oct 2011

Last week, I dutifully recorded Ed Miliband’s speech at the Labour Conference.

I watched it in the evening and stayed up late writing my post only to find that, apart from the unique human insights to which you are accustomed, most of my views were reflected across the mass media.

“Get a life”, said the wife. So less to read this week, you will be pleased to hear.

In 2007, I advised the Conservatives how to win the last election. You can read it here: ‘The Conservatives may be doing the right thing, but in the wrong way’. In the same post, months before the riots, I told them the human effect of their savage cuts would be social chaos. Alienating people is not good leadership.

I showed the Tories what life is like on the receiving end of these cuts here: ‘Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Disgrace’.

In a most unleaderly way, our Prime Minister has had to apologise to women (yes, all of you!) for his patronising approach. I explained his behaviour here: ‘The Curse of Cameron’.

I will leave it to the rest of the media to report his Conference Speech, but I would like to report his response to a question from Nick Robinson, the Political Editor of the BBC.

Robinson challenged Cameron on the social effects of the cuts to the poor, sick and need amongst us.

Do you know what Cameron replied?

He said petrol costs had been kept down and Council Tax had been frozen.

Is that it?!

Dave don’t you understand that loads of people don’t pay Council Tax or have cars? They are called the underclass, the majority of whom are things called women.

You don’t believe me? Read this (more here):

“The government’s spending cuts have hit women hardest: two-thirds of the 140,000 public-sector jobs that have been cut were held by women. There’s been a 72 per cent rise in redundancies among women over the last quarter – redundancies among men, instead, are up only 21 per cent. Women face a big increase in ­childcare costs at the same time as child benefit has been frozen….

Women are also more likely to be caring for a relative, and more likely to need social housing than men. Finally, female unemployment has hit a 23-year-high with 1.05 million women on the dole – the highest figure since 1988.

No wonder Cameron’s advisers have warned him that his popularity has dropped 10 per cent among women since he came to Downing Street.”

So this is how he should have replied to the BBC:

“Well, for example, we have kept petrol costs down and frozen Council Tax, but we know too many people, particularly women, fall below these initiatives. And, to show we are aware of them and care about them, these are the strategies we have developed to help the sick, poor and needy in our society……”.

But he can’t say this. He is not a natural leader. He does not understand people. He has no ‘common touch’. No empathy. No humanity. I have written about this here: ‘David Cameron, Eton and George Orwell’. George Orwell wrote about human behaviour. He understood people. That is what made him such a great writer.

As this Conference has shown, to millions of people up and down our country, the biggest negative of the Conservative brand is as relevant today as it has always been.

It is that, if ‘the people’ are their ‘customers’, the Conservatives just don’t care about them.

Worse, in these times of economic woe, they don’t care that they don’t care.

In this sense, I guess they are the Ryanair of politics. And you can read my opinion of that brand here: ‘Ryanair and the human importance of customer service’.

Happy days!

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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