Once upon a moon I wrote scathingly of the twat-in-blue-shirt voter we have lost to flimsy Tory tax “policy”, and was quite rightly corrected by Rob Knight to the tune that it might actually be (whisper it) not entirely twat-in-blue-shirt’s fault that he doesn’t know what our tax policy is. It’s the old story: we’ve got the policy, we just don’t got da message.

I recall blogging sunnily on the subject of message back in the primaeval early history of the People’s Republic, and then I stuck the whole subject of communications in the huge box room in my head with the sign on the door saying “More reading required”. More reading is generally the answer to everything in the People’s Republic (except the easy, obvious, boring stuff like earning a living, forming functional relationships with other human beings and all that other window-dressing jazz). Well, I haven’t done any more reading, but I have done some more talking. Specifically, on the comments thread following Nick Clegg’s Guardian piece yesterday. The exchange, shorn of interspersing madness, was as follows. I appear in the guise of a blue porcupine:

blueporcupine November 22, 2007 8:36 PM

Ryan – that tax outline is party policy, as approved by the membership at conference in September. The policy documents (if you’ve got the stomach for it!) are on the party website. It’s moved as far forward as it’s ever going to move without y’all vote for us


I don’t know of any Liberal Democrat not implacably and vocally opposed to ID cards. Nick Clegg has said that if it comes to it he’ll personally refuse to register and go to court if necessary.

I didn’t get the final ringing endorsement I was after. I’d like to think that RyanBerks has withdrawn to some mountain retreat with a year’s supply of rice and a copy of Fairer, Simpler, Greener to reflect on his political allegiance, but actually I’m sure he has just been distracted by a thing. Howsobeit, a tiny, shuffling millimetre of progress was clearly made. Winning hearts and minds, one blood vessel and nerve cell at a time, style of thing (hey, it’s as good as any other slogan). 

And all this gives me pause for thought, because there are always a goodly proportion of comments attached to these broad spectrum appeal pieces that make a similar plea to RyanBerks’ “stop being so bland”. Rather than trying to evolve one single, simple message for allcomers (which a prospective party leader writing on Comment is Free must perforce do), we should be true to our localist nature and evolve different versions of the same message to answer the questions posed by difference audiences. My uber-rational, dry exposition clearly had some impact in this case, but wouldn’t in all.

Of course, you can’t manufacture a range of these messages easily without an agreed central repository of message-fodder, and therefore I commend you with renewed enthusiasm to the Lib Dem Voice Wiki project, and shall even be commending myself to it just as soon as I understand what it is.