Today’s Financial Times has a full page ad (and a right-hand page 7 at that) for the Business in the Community awards. Down at the bottom of the page are a number of companies and their logos. The companies, corporate sponsors, presumably shelled out for the ad and thus have their little place above the logo of The Prince’s Charities. These include banks, like Bank of America Merrill Lynch, car companies, supermarkets, M and S for a bit of British middle-class respectability.
What is interesting about the ad is that the biggest headline, and therefore the one that catches the eye ahead of the little logos, reads as follows: ‘Cultivating responsible business.‘
I draw it to your attention to illustrate an interesting phenomenon – Ed Miliband’s messages on the economy are setting the agenda and speaking to a changed mood among the electorate and among some sectors and leaders in business. Yet we are constantly told by the media that he is not cutting through to the public.
I have written here many times about the concept of the ‘prism’, the layering that media conventional wisdom lays over a person or issue, and which then dictates whether something is news or not. The current prism re Ed is negative. So a poll that reflects well on his performance does not get covered. One that reflects badly gets big coverage. Minor errors – the Blackbusters typo is a good example – are turned into major stories. Major interventions are reduced, and dismissed.
The speech he made seeking to redefine capitalism in the wake of the financial crash came pre-TNP (totally negative prism,) so the ideas came to be heard and debated a little. What the ad, and much else in the polls and public debate tells me, not least some of the statements David Cameron has been making on executive pay, is that his messages are getting through even if he as message carrier is not seen as positively as he would like.
So the message for him, as he makes another speech today on the consequences for politics of the changed economic circumstances, is that if you are confident in the strength of the message, you just have to keep going. Tough out a few storms, push back on a load of negativity, and the prism will change. And if and when it does, the message will get through even more quickly and with greater effect for his having endured all the catcalls.
— Four pages on fro the ad, day 2 of the FT’s ‘crisis in capitalism’ series. Headline ‘Promises that proved ultimately empty’. Another piece on politicians? No, all about the banks, their role in the crisis, with the strapline that unless they can better demonstrate their usefulness to society, they face a debilitating battle against new regulation. Pretty on message for Ed I would say.
— Over the page and Philip Stephens has a column on Cameron’s shifting rhetoric (whilst rightly he points out the gap between words and actions). But the headline ‘Cameron signs up to the Occupy movement’ is further evidence that the arguments – and the Tories – are moving Ed’s way.