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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Why Gordon Brown should get a new slogan writer

I'm very sorry, Gordon Brown, to pick linguistic nits so early on in your campaign, but I am not impressed with your just-announced campaign slogan ...




I think I am right in thinking what you think we will think this means ... but I'm not sure.

I think it means 'things are going to improve for everybody', but it could also mean any/all of the following:

1. The Labour government is, at some point in the future, going to hold an enormous garden fete, theme as yet unknown.

2. The Labour government is going to hold, at an unspecified time, a future-fair, an enormous garden fete with the theme of time travel or space.

3. The Labour government is going to make it illegal to be a brunette (a leaflet plus a sachet of hair dye will be sent to all households)

4. The Labour government promises that Britain's weather will, under its supervision, become more moderate and less unpredictable.

5. Under a Labour government, anyone called 'All' (Allan? Allison?) is going to have a great time, but the rest of you, forget it.  Get in some good DVDs, stock up on toilet roll, and prepare for some bad times.

6. The Labour government can't really promise to achieve 'excellent', 'very good' or even 'good' on its reports.

So, you see, Gordon, it's all potentially ambiguous, confusing, misleading, and, what's more, I'm not sure what you mean.

And, Gordon, what's with the syntax thing?  Why not 'a fair future for all' to remove the ambiguity and make the adjective do its work better?  Have you been reading too much poetry?  Are you subtly trying to imply a 'new order' (in which case, that's quite clever, Gordz, old chap) or is it a typo (in which case, stick to the new order story).

And, Gordon, just with a little tinkering, this could become 'a future free-for-all', and that's unfortunate.

And, Gordon, what's with the string of 'f's?  It's not the most attractive example of alliteration I've heard lately.  Anyone with buck teeth is going to have a real problem with this, so think about it if you're recruiting.  And you're inviting people to put other 'f' words in there ... and I don't mean 'freedom', 'fun' or 'frankfurters'.

And, Gordon, it's a BIG claim, to say that you're going to make it fair for ALL.  Okay, maybe you'll convince everyone over 17, and good luck with that.  But there's a nation of kids out there whose parents didn't buy them an Ipod/gave their brother an extra sweet/won't let them stay out in the dark/prefer them not to play shoot-em-up games before bed.  Gordon, you've given yourself a real job there.

And, Gordon, I've just looked up the origin of the word 'fair'.  It says it comes from the Old English faeger meaning 'beautiful' (okay so far), which comes from a prehistoric Germanic word meaning 'suitable' (not so promising), which itself is also the ancestor of the word 'fake'.

(Whoops.)

32 comments:

  1. The huge garden fete is what I thought when I saw it.

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  2. Now, why would he offer a future fair when he already has a full-blown circus, with a surfeit of clowns, in the here and now?

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  3. Oh, how I enjoyed this little nit-pick! Ta!

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  4. Hillel - just read something where someone else suggested maybe it means 'a fete worse than death'.

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  5. Martin - now that's a very fair question.

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  6. Jinksy - you're very welcome. Linguistic nit-picking is one of my favourite occupations.

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  7. Can we pick nits with his tailor too? I cringe whenever I see his ill-fitting jackets.

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  8. Gosh, English Rider, don't start me on the FASHion sense ... You think he HAS a tailor? One with some visual difficulties, perhaps?....

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  9. Ha ha. I thought it was a big garden fete too! But if he said 'a fair future' like you suggest it sounds like the next few years would only be mediocre... which I suppose would be an improvement 8-)
    ...and I was brought up by scrupulously fair parents which I view as a handicap - life isn't fair and shouldn't be held up as so - it isn;t fair to do so!! (sorry - just went off on one!)

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  10. Gordon Brown looks like Terry Jones of Monty Python to me. Whenever I see him I think he's going to start shouting about the Spanish Inquisition...

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  11. I've been offering to write slogans for our US politicians for quite some time now. Maybe I should write for yours! I'm pretty sure I could come up with something snappy.

    "It Can Only Get Better From Here"

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  12. It has to be number three right?

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  13. He can't say he hasn't received fair warning.

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  14. Northern Teacher22/2/10 09:07

    Brilliant! You and your blog, Fran. Not Gordon!

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  15. Brokenbiro - perhaps you're right. In fact, perhaps they should just dump the slogan altogether and have 'Labour: crap at slogans, crap at running the country, but, hey, better the devil you know'. We'd all be a lot more convinced.

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  16. Amanda - see what you mean. I think, if you're following British news at the moment, he's undergoing his own little Spanish Inquisition.

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  17. Eternally Distracted - I think so, too. Brunette is best. Amen.

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  18. Mark - he can, he does, and he will.

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  19. Thanks, Northern Teacher. Do come again.

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  20. Lesley - send your ideas to Number 10. It can't do any harm. They need someone.

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  21. Oh you are good! Absolutely loved point six. In fact, my smile now makes me look like I am enjoying my work today, so thanks for that!

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  22. Jayne - thanks for your lovely comment. You cheered up my day, too!

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  23. I'm thinking he needs a new PR department full stop.

    And yes, it would be imaginative of the parties to actually tell the truth in their slogans.

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  24. Rachel - if only they'd call me, I'd be happy to do the job for a mere £100,000 a year.

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  25. Very funny post, am almost afraid to leave a comment in case it is nit picked. Just one question-will the Queen open the Fair when it is held and can I come? Sorry that's two questions but I live a long way away and need to book my flight.

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  26. linens and royals - hi there and thanks for following. I promise not to nit-pick your comment. I think I would lose followers very quickly that way! I will try and organise for the Queen to open the fair - I'll ask her when she comes to tea on Saturday.

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  27. You've been reading Simon Hoggart's "Crash Blossoms"

    btw. I see you have nicked one of my followers; I've lost one today and you got an extra one. I think you should tell me before you sneak over.

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  28. Shucks, Friko - I thought you wouldn't notice if I just picked them all off one by one.

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  29. Oh..oh..oh..oh...my stomach hurts!!!

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  30. Now....gasp...I've read the ....whoop!....book reviews...snort!....and I can..hahahahaha....hardly breathe!!!!!! Oh my. Thank you so much for being you.

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  31. Deborah - you can come again with comments like that. You warmed my little writey heart big-time.

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  32. This slogan begged to be demolished, Fran. No better person than yourself to do the job. It's hard to believe they settled on it. Does anyone involved in its creation and approval read anything other than advertising copy? (Probably, but it doesn't seem like it.)

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