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January 29, 2013



I feel this post should mention Labour's re-branding as "New Labour". Don't you think that was successful?


@ Pablopatito - I dunno. The rebranding came after years of change; Kinnock picked a fight with militant back in 85. This supports Salem's theory.
And it was only temporarily successful.Labour lost 4m votes between 1997 and 2005, polling fewer votes in 05 than in 87. And during this time,its grassroots membership waned.


"Ethnic minorities remember that, in the 60s, Tories hated them"

Do they? It seems improbable that many of the hundreds of thousands who have arrived since 1997 have even heard of this slogan, or of Enoch Powell, or even of Norman Tebbit. I suspect it has more to do with the fact that people from ethnic minorities are more liable to live in low income families, depend on benefits and know people who might like to come and live here.

Churm Rincewind

"Products such as Cadbury's chocolate, Bird's custard and Colman's mustard took off in the 19th century because they were initially better than rival products, and this built a trust that lasted."

Er, no. Cadbury's chocolate is the same as any other, and Colman's mustard is just mustard. Bird's custard, on the other hand, isn't even custard, though they've managed to convince generations of Brits that it is.

All three products are triumphs of marketing over substance, and would seem to prove the opposite of your argument.


Churm, the key word is "initially". Chris's point, I think, is that they were better initially, which led to lasting success. It's not inconsistent with such products being average or rubbish now.

Mixing both your points, isn't there some theory that it makes sense to buy heavily advertised food products (not sure about others) on the grounds that such spending would be wasted if the company didn't intend to stick around; and that means they will at least try to make a product that doesn't kill many of its customers? Or nor quickly I suppose, having just thought about tobacco. Not sure what the equivalent would be for political branding.


@ BenSix - I was thinking of folk memory, stories from parents and atmospheric effects as much as conscious memories.
Ethnic minorites are much more likely to vote Labour than low income people generally, which suggests their antipathy to the Tories is based upon more than class. Eg 31% of social class DE voted Tory in 2010:
but only 24% of Indians (many of whom are economically successful) and 9% of Caribbeans did


"I was thinking of folk memory, stories from parents and atmospheric effects as much as conscious memories."

Am I wrong in saying, though, that the bulk of adult migrants would not have had parents who were around before the 1980s?

"Ethnic minorites are much more likely to vote Labour than low income people generally, which suggests their antipathy to the Tories is based upon more than class."

Those poor British people have nativist as well as class concerns: migration, again, from the other angle, and opposition to the European Union.

You're right that there must be an atmospheric element, though. When someone introduces themselves as a "Tory" there are few British people whose immediate response is to assume they are a charming, open-minded individual.


@BenSix - something which maybe a factor here is that Tory politicians like Enoch Powell, Lord Tebbitt etc. were probably reported on by newspapers in India/ Pakistan/ the Caribbean etc. Today's migrants did not need to have parents in Britain to have heard of these individuals. Also a casual reading of the Mail/ Torygraph etc. would give any ethnic minority a good sense of being an outsider.


This chart is sellotaped (sticky stuff, branded as verb) to the walls of the Nudge Unit in Downing Street. Fact.



I really do not see what has changed when it comes to the Tory Party. Extreme overt Racism may be rarely expressed; but the Tory attitude to Europe, Immigrants from East Europe poor people etc is merely an up dated version of the Enoch Powell tendency.

Hostility to the EU and immigrants is the product of a narrow Nationalistic cultural arrogance which means Tories are incapable of compromise with the EU. The attitude of the bulk of the Tory party and UKIP is that the EU and its people are natives who should jolly well do what the master wants or we will go and the continent will be isolated.

Will Germany, Poland, and France say "yes Boss" on Demand? Most unlikely. This absurd outdated inability to act like adults is the same thing that Johnny Speight was lampooning with Alf Garnet. The Euro Sceptics are Alf. Just posher and with less excuse. On the other hand the writers of Dan Dare would be pleased that the US President is Black and will be keeping their fingers crossed, in Socialist Heaven, for the Establishment of the Socialist world Government with a Black Women President. One actually from Kenya rather then Hawaii.

john b

Ben: new immigrants tend to be socially concentrated in communities of people from the same background. So for migrant groups that were prevalent in the UK before the 1980s (ie everywhere Commonwealth-ish), there's every reason to believe that the folk memory will persist, irrespective of when a particular individual arrived.

For groups that weren't prevalent in the UK before the 1980s (North Africans and Somalis would be the main ones I would have thought?), you may have more of a point.


Keith, you're funny.


Speaking as someone who isn't white, my experience of the Tory party is that it isn't very keen on brown people.

You can trace this through specific policies on business visas for Indian businessmen (my heritage is part-Indian), or through the occasional very nasty column from a Tory MP in the Telegraph, or through the general demeanour of the Daily Mail, or through encounters with traditionalist grass-roots members of the party.

Of course, one other issue is that a lot of ethnic immigrants come to Britain to escape the class-based prejudice of their homeland. This doesn't necessarily make them well-disposed to the class overlords that this particular batch of Tories so yearn to be... You can argue that Thatcher's era had more historical racism, but a greater sense of meritocracy.


Are you sure that poster is a genuine Tory campaign poster?

'bring up to date the Ministry of Repatriation' should ring an alarm bell - was there ever such a Ministry ? a quck google seems to confirm my instinctive reaction that of course there wasn't.

Churm Rincewind

Luke, the point I was trying to make was that none of these products were ever "better", even initially. Different perhaps, but not better - and in the case of Bird's custard, defintely worse.

My argument is that (re)branding can work, and I agree with Pablopatito above that the transformation of Labour into New Labour is a good example. I don't accept Chris's point that it didn't work because a)it took some time to take effect, and b) that the immediate effects were disadvantageous to the Labour Party. On the contrary, I think it did work, and that Blair's first election offers considerable proof.

In my view, Cameron is trying to do the same with the Conservative Party, though the jury is out as to whether he'll succeed.


@ botogol - it wasn't a national poster, but a leaflet circulated in Lambeth. I suspect a forgery would be better quality (note the spelling of "burdoned"). But even if it is fake, the fact that it's plausible tells a story.
@ Churm - the point about New Labour's brand is that the rebranding followed years of real change. It was NOT just a marketing exercise (which is many many of its critics understated its power). That precedent tells us that if Cameron is to detoxify the Tories, it requires years of genuine change, not PR guff.


@chris "But even if it is fake, the fact that it's plausible tells a story" well yes, but not quite the story you are telling if you present it as real.
Personally I suspect it was a smear, possibly contemporary, perhaps somewhat modern.
I do think you should caption it carefully explaining at least what you think it is, and the source, so far as you have one.

b whiteley

i never read such a load of rubbish. and by the way you'll find theyre called conservatives, the main lead into your article refers to all conservatives as racists. i resent your badly formed opinion and i also loathe racism and vote conservative .

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