Miliband urged to ditch 'mantras'

Banbury Cake: Ed Miliband has been urged to refrain from using "mantras" like "One Nation". Ed Miliband has been urged to refrain from using "mantras" like "One Nation".

Ed Miliband is turning off voters by forcing MPs into a "torturous repetition of political mantras" such as the party's "One Nation" slogan, one of his backbenchers has warned.

Repeatedly "parroting" phrases and using "vacuous sloganeering" causes people to switch off from politics and ultimately stay away from the ballot box on election day, Simon Danczuk said.

He urged the Labour leader to ditch the "on message" discipline instilled in the party by Lord Mandelson and Alastair Campbell under the Tony Blair years.

In a blog for trade magazine PR Week, the Rochdale MP wrote: "We've already been told, from the very top, to intertwine 'one nation' into every policy statement we make, to build it into speeches, to continually repeat the phrase 'one nation' at every opportunity.

" I'm beginning to worry we haven't moved on from the 1990s."

Mr Danczuk said the Opposition leader's " One Nation" party conference speech two years ago was a "land grab moment" but would not win the party the general election.

"It's not a general election winning strapline is it? The public isn't as accepting of such simple messaging any more. Indeed, I've come to believe the public is actively turned off by the torturous repetition of political mantras."

Mr Danczuk also took a swipe at the Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps for repeatedly forcing the phrase "hardworking people" into his appearances on radio and television and highlighted the success of outspoken politicians such as Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Labour's Frank Field and Tom Harris and Ukip leader Nigel Farage in reaching out to voters.

He said: " The premium currency that politicians should be looking to trade in these days is authenticity, and that means using stories and experiences to convey the message, not parroting slogans. It's about showing character, imagination and a deeper understanding of people's lives.

"When the Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps pops up on the news and tries to crowbar the phrase 'for hardworking people' into every sentence no one honestly thinks he has any connection with the lives of people striving to do right for their families. It's just vacuous sloganeering."

He added: " Of course we'd expect candidates and politicians in the same political party to generally follow the agreed broad policies and to sign up to the vast majority of their party's manifesto, but if there was ever a need for political parties to free up their representatives to think and speak a little more independently now is the time.

" It isn't a coincidence that people like Boris Johnson, Frank Field, Tom Harris or Nigel Farage have the ability to communicate more effectively with the wider public - it's because they are perceived to speak their mind, to say not what their party wants them to say, but what they think.

" Obviously, it's not about candidates and politicians being eccentric and 'off the wall', but at the same time the ultimate effect of playing the old messaging game is lower turnout, a disconnect from politics and people switching off."

Conservative MP Stewart Jackson said: " The curtain is lifted on Ed Miliband's empty One Nation rhetoric. This vacuous slogan belies Labour's core philosophy of more spending, more borrowing and more taxes, exactly what got us into an economic mess in the first place. As Simon Danczuk points out, Ed Miliband can't move on from the policies that brought this country to its knees under Labour and no amount of short-term gimmicks will con the public into trusting Labour on the economy again."

A Labour source said: " We believe in Britain being a country where everyone plays their part and we'll continue to make the argument for One Nation Labour."

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