How can politicians communicate ideas to the public?by Paul Bickley / September 21, 2012 / Leave a comment
Margaret Thatcher said that there is no such thing as society; Iain Duncan Smith said that there is. David Cameron talked up the big society, and Ed Miliband launched his leadership with a speech on the good society.
The upcoming Labour party conference will allegedly adopt the theme of the “relationship society.” Dan Hodges, the blogger who leaked this news, may have been duped. For the sake of the public understanding of politics, let’s hope he was.
Whether true or false, it’s a timely reminder that party conferences are now almost completely irrelevant to the policy formulation process. Instead, they are significant largely as moments of political positioning. Watch out in particular for the word “society,” political speak for “this is who I am, this is how I’d like things to be.” It’s primary colours stuff.
Only it ought to be more primary, because those outside of the Westminster village are often left bemused. All these “societies” take some decoding – the relationship society, if it exists, is an esoteric porridge of Labour peer Maurice Glasman, political philosopher Michael Sandel and the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.