11th May 2015

Political Jargon All Greek to Voters

As many commentators have pointed out recently, fluff statements, such as “long-term economic plan”, “balance the books”, “those at the top” and “real change”, litter party manifestos and the speeches of parliamentary candidates. These phrases may represent something tangible or quantifiable in the parlance of the political bubble, but do they mean anything to the ordinary man and woman in the street?

We have a few days to go until the UK goes to the polls, and I’m sure many of you have been following the leaders’ debates and the parties’ broader election campaigns as avidly as my partner and I have. The interviews with BBC’s Evan Davis have been particular highlights for us, and we’ve tuned in religiously to every single one.

However, throughout the last couple of weeks I have been struck by the sheer number of clichés – or “polifiller” as I heard them called a few days ago – uttered by the people vying for the electorate’s support, not to mention the amount of political jargon often considered impenetrable by voters.

As many commentators have pointed out recently, fluff statements, such as “long-term economic plan”, “balance the books”, “those at the top” and “real change”, litter party manifestos and the speeches of parliamentary candidates. These phrases may represent something tangible or quantifiable in the parlance of the political bubble, but do they mean anything to the ordinary man and woman in the street?

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Just like brands, to get their point across and engage successfully with their target audience, parties and politicians both need to think very carefully not just about what they say, but the way they say it. It is imperative that they speak to voters clearly and concisely in a language they understand.
Now, this doesn’t mean ‘dumbing down’ the language politicians use. It simply means talking the way voters do every day, and describing and defining genuine political concepts, such as “the Big Society”, for the politically uninitiated.

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At the moment though, it appears that our parties aren’t achieving this. Some recent reports suggest a majority of the electorate feel that many politicians speak without saying “anything meaningful”, while a growing number of voters believe candidates should just speak “plain English”.
Despite having more platforms than ever before to engage with target audiences, by not being clear in what they say and not talking in the right language, politicians are actually alienating voters. They are wasting valuable opportunities to be heard and reinforcing the notion that they are out of touch, which is simply turning the public over to competing parties, or off politics all together.

The current disconnect between politicians and voters offers valuable lessons for brand owners. Whether in politics or in business, it is crucial that brands communicate clearly and in way that all of their target audiences understand, talking to them on the platforms and in the language they use every day. Doing so, they will ensure they engage with the people they want to use their services and lay the foundation for a strong and lasting customer relationship.

by Michael Wood, Senior B2B Copy Writer