Why ‘strong and stable’ is an irritating, yet clever, strategy

Strong and stable sheep
If you have any interest in the current General Election – and are on the left-side of the debate – the relentless repetition of the phrase ‘strong and stable’ by Theresa May won’t have escaped your notice.

And yet the latest research from polling giants YouGov show that only 15% of Brits have so far heard the phrase.

This is not a surprise because the election campaign is still in its early days, and you can guarantee that the phrase will continue to be used at every possible opportunity.

Why? Simply, because that what’s all good strategies involve. Endless repetition.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

In Alastair Campbell’s excellent book Winners: And How They Succeed, he makes this crucial point:

“Once strategies have been agreed and have been written down, they need to be repeated – endlessly. One of my rules was ‘just when the communicator is getting bored with saying something, that is when there is an outside chance of it reaching the outer radar of public opinion’.”

But don’t just take Campbell’s word for it. In the same book, he also cites Jack Welch – former CEO of General Electric – under whose tenure GE’s value increased 4,000%. He also finds the repetition annoying, yet vital.

“You have to talk about vision constantly, basically to the point of gagging. There were times I talked about the company’s direction so many times in one day that I was completely sick of hearing it myself. But I realised the message was always new to someone And so you keep on repeating it. And you talk to everyone.”

Make America Great Again

Think back to last year’s US Presidential Election. Can you remember what Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan was? Nope, me neither.

Can you remember what Donald Trump’s was? Yup, as irritating as ‘Make America Great Again’ was, it stuck in the memory.

Similarly in the Brexit election, ‘Vote Leave’ was far catchier than anything the Remain camp came up with.

This is why Theresa May has been coached into doing this. She has another 4 weeks in which she wants to make sure every single voter has heard that she’s going to deliver ‘strong and stable leadership’, regardless of whether it’s true or not.

So no matter how fed up with the phrase you are, you can guarantee it’s not going anywhere just yet.

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