After a long period of internal strife in the People’s Republic while we moved house, my revival to blogging is partly inspired by The Call from the party about renewing my membership subscription (“Are you enjoying being a member of the Lib Dems?” Yesyesyes, really, honest, I will blog, I will I will I will! Poor woman never knew what hit her. I felt so guilty I even paid the full recommended membership fee) and partly by a Citizen who has recently claimed, on my Facebook wall, that I am his only source of news, a state of affairs which, if true, induces in me the sort of chronic low-level panic I normally reserve for running late for long pre-booked train journeys.
So to celebrate, let’s relaunch the beleaguered People’s Republic with a champagne reception, a gourmet picnic, live cutting edge music, elegant surroundings and an altogether fabulous party!* Did you enjoy it? Right then, to business, and where better to start after a lay-off than a bit of Tory-bashing?
Make it happen (and if you’re going to click on that link, be ready for the springiness of the hair which will quickly fill your browser) is the handle of the relaunched Lib Dem tax policy With Bells On - as you will already know if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last week or if I’m not your only source of news.
There’s not much I can say about this welcome firming up of liberal principles that hasn’t already been said here and, hehehe, here. But I would add that, as a slogan, Make it happen forms an interesting counterpoint to the Tories’ You can get it if you really want it tagline. In both cases, the “it” is critical. “It” is a flexible word that fills the space in people’s heads marked “What I want/the world needs”. “It” is the common goal shared between catchphraser and catchphrasee. Whether they have the same common goal in reality is another matter – but it’s something the catchphrasee will generally have worked out from the accompanying policies and mood music.
The difference in mood music is, of course, that our tagline talks about what the world needs. It’s a call to action, an exhortation to create and/or better something. The Tories’ tagline appeals directly to individuals’ self-interest (it’s actually the tagline for their recruitment drive, I see. Figures.) As a piece of semantic positioning, this heartens me. You can get it if you really want it always did strike me as preternaturally ghastly, a 1980s Mazda advert throwback of a catchphrase, and our related idea is just well, light years more appealing unless you’re a self-caricaturing estate agent**.
But more than that, an appeal to self-interest is an increasingly nonsensical position for the Tories to take, given that they are on record last week as refusing to rule out tax rises, which is code for fully intending to send them through the roof. If you’re going to set out your stall to the nakedly self-interested, you should make sure you can satisfy their greed. What kind of self-respecting self-interested person doesn’t want to pay less tax? What is there left for people to get if they really want it?
Presumably, only the chance to lock up everybody under the age of 25. And their mums. Expect the Tories to continue majoring on the “You can force everyone you faintly disapprove of to starve in the gutter as a sort of sop to your self-respect as your employer goes down the tube, your living costs rocket and your house plummets in value if you really want to” message.
* Owing to insurmountable technical difficulties, guests are asked to provide their own champagne, gourmet food, music, company, ambience and venue. Dress formal.
** Not that all estate agents aren’t lovely and wonderful people, of course. Particularly those in Devon.