Two words: Election Season
As professional health communicators, we know the devastation that can be wrought by a carefully chosen two-word phrase. Alistair Darling’s strike back at January’s conservative NHS proposals – the idea they contain a £34 billion ‘credibility gap’ – was neatly calculated not only to speak to a perceived disastrous funding shortfall in conservative plans, but to challenge the overall rigour and sustainability of the party’s approach. You can’t pay for it, it’s not credible, and importantly, you’re not credible. This single two-worder cropped up everywhere in the UK media immediately following the tory announcement, and does rather stick in the brain. But the conservatives have two-word phrases of their own – health premium, Labour’s ‘forgotten promises’ and ‘negative approach’. The list goes on. But there is much to admire in the strategic thought behind that central office messaging calendar, now undoubtedly biding its time on the wall as we approach critical debates on education and defence. Launching your electoral platform with NHS reform is bold, and describing it as your number one priority more so. A slew of ideas on maternity services reform opened the manifesto, designed to hit a vital core vote of mothers and parents concerned about Labour’s creation of low-grade ‘baby factories’ (another two-word gem). Descriptions of health inequalities as akin to ‘Victorian Times’ aimed to create a sense of a Labour Government and Secretary of State for Health going backwards. Given the amount of tussling to come between now and 7 May, look out for the two-word torpedoes. Watch closely. Fun game.