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Mis-Communicator of the Week: Ed Miliband

19th February 2013

Last week the leader of the opposition gave a speech in Bedford which secured strong coverage on TV, radio and in the press. The problem is his messages were mixed, the images conveyed confusing.

The Labour Party appeared to do all the right things in the planning and execution of the speech: it was heavily trailed, political journalists attended, coverage secured. The speech itself was ok – not Lincoln-esque with soaring prose or a damp squib, lacking in style – it was ok as political speeches go. The whole process was done competently if lacking flair. What though was the message the Labour Party wanted to communicate and what, if any, have voters taken away from all their effort?

The speech was about the economy but the key passage was as follows, “We would put right a mistake made by Gordon Brown and the last Labour government.

“We would use the money raised by a mansion tax to reintroduce a lower 10 pence starting rate of tax, with the size of the band depending on the amount raised.

“This would benefit 25 million basic rate taxpayers. Moving Labour on from the past and putting Labour where it should always have been, on the side of working people.”

This is a powerful promise, clearly made in plain English and undoubtedly newsworthy. We will park the merits or otherwise of the policy and, instead, look at the pictures which accompanied the speech:


Ed Miliband and Ed Balls meeting apprentices

Ed Miliband speaking in an empty workshop

These were the pictures which featured in the national newspapers and on the evening news programmes. Neither of which communicated the message Labour wanted on the 10p tax promise. It is almost as if that section was stuck in at the last minute. Whatever the reason, millions watching the news that evening saw the Labour leader talking in an empty room with the message “One Nation” on the lectern in front of him. These are fundamental errors as research has shown that when we listen to someone speak 55 per cent of our concentration is on the overall image conveyed while only 7 per cent is on what is actually being said.

You can watch a short excerpt of the speech here and make up your own mind but to me this makes Ed Miliband my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Written by Edward Staite, founder of Staite Communications

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