NEWS: PR must follow politics and strengthen the ties that bind

As the country settles uncomfortably down to a six month election campaign, those of us in the PR game should reflect on that elusive asset called unity. The Labour Party has gone to almost Stalinist lengths to maintain it, with astonishing success. And the Tories in Bournemouth last week amazingly recovered a semblance of it.

As the country settles uncomfortably down to a six month election

campaign, those of us in the PR game should reflect on that elusive

asset called unity. The Labour Party has gone to almost Stalinist

lengths to maintain it, with astonishing success. And the Tories in

Bournemouth last week amazingly recovered a semblance of it.



Consequently, a fifth Tory victory on the trot is being canvassed for

next April, with the proviso that all bets are off if they crack up

again over Europe, or anything else for that matter. ‘United we stand,

divided we fall’ applies as much to Conservatives as to the working

class.



Nobody is daft enough to assume that the tensions in both our main

parties have evaporated. Both broad churches accommodate all sorts of

ideas under two ideological umbrellas, one interventionist and the other

libertarian. Everybody will continue to see double when they look at

either party - new and old Labour and Europhile and Eurosceptic Tory.



But that is not the point. The clincher is whether their members can

demonstrate their will to win by subjugating their personal passions to

what, presumably, they believe is in the national interest - namely,

that their party should govern the country. In short, are they serious?



You may find all this impossibly cynical. Indeed, you may argue that the

Tories are preposterously cynical if, after four years of self-

indulgence, they think that they can make it on only six months of

‘unity’, assuming that is what they secure. But we know, human nature

being what it is, that people are a fractious, not to say factious, lot.

The test is not whether people are ‘united’; it is whether they wish to

appear ‘united’ for a purpose. So far Labour’s wish has been greater

than that of the Conservatives. Labour have thus looked far more the

likely eventual winners.



We, as PR people, should not ignore this point in our wider dealings

with clients who are far removed from the rough trade of politics.

Indeed, the more I think about it the more I believe that we have one

great gift to bestow on those who are prepared to receive it: namely

coherence.



If we can stop people thrashing around, concentrate their minds on what

they stand for or wish to achieve and persuade them to organise

themselves to that end, we can bring value far in excess of our fee. The

result is a more coherent company or institution with a platform upon

which to build a reputation.



What is more, its new found coherence of purpose will remove other

distractions and focus attention on the worth of its products or

services. If they can sustain it, that is exactly what the Tories new-

found coherence in Bournemouth will do for our politics.



Sir Bernard Ingham writes for the Daily Express



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