May the slogan-master: what a dead-end approach to EU negotiation really looks like

One would think that having lost an election that was apparently in the bag through the endless repetition of a banal slogan, amongst other blunders, Prime Minister May would have learnt a valuable lesson. But following on from her lacklustre ‘dynamic’ speech in Florence, and a torrid time at the Conservative Party conference, May was at it again today. Echoing Florence, she repeats that she wants a “dynamic, creative and unique” partnership with the EU post Brexit. Not for her existing models of trade and international relations: EEA’s and what Canada enjoys. Oh, no! They may be fine for Norway, Iceland and co. But the UK requires – no, deserves – better. Indeed, we MUST be allowed to have our cake and eat it. In short, we’re leaving the EU, but it’s not us that has to change as a result, it’s the EU.

And so, bereft of anything that in any way resembles dynamism, creativity or uniqueness on her part, May resorts once again to sloganeering, as if she really believes that if you repeat something enough it becomes reality. Of course, this was May’s approach toward immigration policy and more in all her years at the Home Office, and on a more general level has become a central plank of this government’s approach to policy making (in short, lots of hot air and very little of substance). But while incredibly damaging within various policy domains, at least that’s as far as this inept, ‘wish upon a star’ approach went. But now we stand on the edge of what’s increasingly looking like a national – indeed, international – policy disaster and all we get – again – is yet another repetition of a slogan from the arch slogan-master.

Still, at least we’ll soon be able to replace the fable of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt with a more contemporary version. And, as with Nero, history will not look on May kindly. Now repeat after me: “dynamic, creative and unique”, “dynamic, creative and unique”, and on, and on, and on.



  1. Peter May -

    Agreed, she’s a disaster, and as if to twist the knife there is nobody in her cabinet of any substance either. Pity Britain…

  2. Sean Danaher -

    Ivan repeating slogans ad-nausiem has been very successful and will play well with the Daily Mail reading classes. The big lie that the GFC was caused by Labour overspending worked well though is probably past its sell by date.

    I personally find May insincere and vacuous, but the problem is much deeper, the Brexit poison that has infected the Tory party is toxic but appears to act as a hallucinogenic drug. The Brexiteers remind me a bit of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf the Iraqi Information minister (AKA Comical Ali) during the final days of the Iraq War

    1. Peter May -

      What a very good comparison!!

    2. Ivan Horrocks -

      Did he not start out as Chemical Ali, Sean? Or was that another of Saddam’s henchmen. Either way, I know what you mean. And the UK will suffer its own form of collapse if we leave the EU with no deal, although as you say, such outcomes appear to act as a form of mind-altering drug to many in the Tory party.

  3. Geoff Plant -

    If true, the average reading age of the UK population is 9 years – that is, they have achieved the reading ability normally expected of a 9 year old. The Guardian has a reading age of 14 and the Sun has a reading age of 8.
    I think it goes some way to explain the mess we’re in and why they persist with simple messages and slogans.

  4. Tony_B -

    May’s vacuous slogans must be terrifying the thinking Capitalist. I love when they imply “No deal is better than a poor deal” somehow punishes our EU friends and partners and, by omission, not us? We’re heading into a major policy disaster, but then the Tories will blame someone else, no doubt, with the help of the media.

  5. Graham -

    It reminds me of the way Blair smooth-talked and sloganised his way into the disastrous Iraq war, acting as Bush’s faithful poodle. But at least the people objected and demonstrated, although to no avail. With the disaster of Brexit looming there is no protest because the people, or at least the people of England-without-London (BoM), have spoken.

    Anthony Barnett gives a devastating critique of Blair, the malign influence of some media moguls and editors and much else in trying to explain this monumental exercise in self-harm.

    1. Peter May -

      Agreed about the media moguls – we have to hope – earnestly – that the internet has changed that…

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