On the job.
In the words of Adrian Chiles, next spring seems like an awful long wait.
Not for Yasmina, of course – she’s arrived. She has a new job and a whole new identity.
But for the rest of us? Somehow, I’m sure we as a proud nation will push on and pull together and muddle through until the next series of The apprentice is aired. I’m going to miss Srallan, though – he’ll be Lawdallen by next year.
One thing that lastnight’s finale demonstrated along the way was borne out by the boss himself on the after-show – brand is what people buy. Yasmina’s Coco Electric was basically cute; the chocolates themselves you can get right with an extra couple of days. But who’d know Kate’s Choc D’amour were extra scrummy from their pregnancy test type box?
I think Coco Electric should be a club night too, by the way.
The idea of something – the instinctive, emotional response, however small – is what we all reach for on the shelf. That’s a brand; what people feel about a product, or a thing. Or you.
And so I can’t help feeling, where might this be more relevant to this morning’s news than in the jolly world of politics?
The world IS politics, of course. How people interact with eachother, how they get along, work together around differences, work around competing outlooks. Everything is politics – how we navigate eachother determines how ‘successful’ we are. Which I put in quotes there to let you decide what the word means.
So personal ‘brand’ is pretty vital, huh?
Right. In response, however, I’m personally just thinking of printing up more Momo tees – they’re cute. Do yourself a favour – do yourself a logo, I say. Though I’m now thinking of adding a pink lightning spark to mine.
The professional party politician can’t do that, however.
..No, I mean they can’t – have you seen the design of their leaflets? Shocking.
Which is interesting. The very people who usually feel drawn to step up to public office are usually not creatives. Yet the subtle nuances of expression and emotional awareness are everything to a politician’s success.
‘New suit, same old Nazis’ was one amusing ad headline for them this week. They say we’ve got them wrong – they’re not racists, they’re standing against the systemic racism of the The Liberal Elite, directed against the Indiginous White Population Of Britain.
Which might just be a plea to keep things simple; the English are already German-Nordic-French with a twist of Italian. Invading bastards. We should really give the country back to the Welsh and the Cornish, of course. But we certainly can’t incorporate any more ethnic identity into our great collective mongrel brand any more.
Last thing we want to do, for example, is become a massively sea-faring and trading nation, extending our influence and enlarging our outlook to a truly global scale, bringing back prosperity and people alike to our meagre shores and… ah.
But here’s the thing to remember with your brand, if you just joined the class – it ain’t yours. It’s almost like art – you make the marks and the perciever of your work makes the connections. It’s in their head. So they can make whatever connections they damn-well please.
So what should be done when people percieve their country to be against them? When their connection with Britain feels increasingly like a disconnection?
It comes down, as I think everything on the political news does today, to leadership. Right now, people are percieving no proper leadership in the UK.
Well, I say ‘uh-oh’ to create a dramatic pause, but it’s all part of the natural ups and downs of professional political life. Things go stale and we want something fresh.
But, like a teacher in an unruly classroom, the minute the little tykes can smell fear – you’re dead.
Once kids – or let’s call us voters – get it into their heads that you don’t know your arse from your elbow when it comes to authority or direction, your brand is a bad one. You’ve got to do something to correct their impression of your authority.
Rolling tanks into the shires and squares of this fair isle would be a way to look tough, of course.
It’s the I’ll Bloody Show You Who’s Strong, Yeah tactic of choice for many world leaders. And these guys have often been great with creating brand – cute posters, nice uniforms, consistent brand collateral. Beatings for deviating from the brand book. My kind of marketing department.
We don’t kind of do that here. Not really the UK’s style. We fawn and bitch, depending on the weather. Which might make the UK sound a bit, well, gay. But I’m all for it – the catfights can sound pretty nasty and will involve a lot of meladrama, but no-one’s blood will actually get spilt on the chiffon/leather/ermin and it will be mere moments before someone says: ‘BORED. WHO TURNED OFF THE DISCO?’ and we’re all cheering and fugging again.
I realise this reduction of a particular sexual identity to a kind of colourful character part in the story of our community is not helpful. But’s let’s face it, the colourful ones are always our favourite ones in the film. The white/straight/thin heroes we cast in the central roles are so dull. And England can, after all, be pretty gay. I blame our butch Viking heritage. In fact, I thank it.
England: Putting the pink spark back into British politics.
My distracted point, pulling it back, is that leadership is the most vital brand we create – and Gordon’s lost it.
Doesn’t matter that we still think he’s a massive politico-financial brain – he seems like a man driven by blind vanity, rather than simple dedication. If he’d been content to serve his country in Number 11, instead of CONSTANTLY pushing to be Tony Blair, we might be remembering him as an economic titan and hero of all our prosperity. Instead, his free markets became rather too free and unregulated as he turned is piercing eye on the house further up the road in Downing Street.
People didn’t turn in droves to the BNP last week. The European elections showed that much of the continent mis-trusts the idea of lefty bananacrats, same as us. And here in the UK, people are fed up with the culture of Westminster, giving it up as a lost cause, I think – 33% turn-out, or something? People just didn’t vote.
It’s not just that, though. People still haven’t a strong enough idea of what the hell the European parliament does, for one thing. Where has been the ad campaigns and information on that? Nationally, internationally or locally? We went into our booths at the top of our road and more or less closed our eyes and stuck the pencil in.
But also, it’s the fact that Brown is the opposite of Tony Blair, who was a gifted communicator. His skills and his words are always lost behind his gruff personality. Which would have been endearing and respectably honest, had he not insisted so forcefully on being the voice of the UK.
As PM, Brown is in the wrong job. He’s creating the wrong brand for Labour and for the UK. He’s just not up to the particular job of articulating the fundamentals of leadership – where we’re going, how we’ll get there and who we are.
And crucially, our idea of who we are is perhaps the most potent force in politics.