Saturday, 30 October 2010
If you don't own a property, and aren't planning to buy, then you won't be mesmerised by the endless flow of information about house prices.
And if you do own a property or are looking to buy you will know that the last few months have made for gloomy reading.
I always take these reports as a fairly accurate description of what is going in terms of buying and selling.
Until now that is. I have been told by a reliable source that about half the sales in Islington for one estate agent has been in cash. If you buy in cash you don't need a mortgage.
As Galbraith warned, many years ago, always question conventional wisdom.
The housing market might not quite be working in the way we all think.
As regular readers of this blog will know I try to stay out of day-to-day party politics.
This is mostly because of my job means that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on party politics or policy issues. Not only that but many other people write a lot about all that so one more voice in the debate doesn't make a huge difference.
Rather, I prefer to look at how political ideas are communicated, the way communication works and the development of liberal ideas that cut across parties.
Today though is different. Harriet Harman has called Danny Alexander a "ginger rodent". She obviously doesn't realise that if you insult one ginger you insult us all.
Of course, fans of rodents who don't like us carrot-tops will be equally annoyed.
Weirdly, Harman made the attack at Labour's Scottish party conference. One would expect quite a few people with titian in their hair to be attending the event.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Presumably, Ed Miliband and his advisers are developing a narrative that they hope will engage voters enough to secure the Labour party electoral success.
There weren't many hints of what that narrative might be in Miliband's speech to the Labour party conference.
From what he said, we can safely say that he doesn't want to be called 'Red Ed', that he rejects new, and old, Labour and that he speaks for a different generation.
On reflection, it seemed as though he wanted to start from where John Smith left off and before Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson established 'the project'.
What I mean by that, is that he wanted a different Labour party to the one in the 1980s but didn't like the one that secured electoral victory. And if he didn't mind that one, he certainly didn't like some of the things it did.
Miliband might be edging towards a sort of civil libertarian socialism: the State intervening to secure civil liberties as defined by the Labour values of the 1960s.
If that is the case, the question is will that resonates with the British people? On the face of it, it doesn't appear a strong enough narrative to contrast with the coalition's Whig narrative of redefining the relationship between the citizen and the State.
Monday, 18 October 2010
An article by Tony Langham, MD of Lansons Communications, in Marketing got me thinking about the way we do communications and how it is changing.
Langham argues that marketing and public relations will melt into each other as companies realise that the two are interdependent.
While there are differences between these functions, I have always seen them as disciplines that communication professionals can take from their toolkit along with public affairs, issues management, crisis communications and digital media.
Part of the changing nature of communications work is the way that public relations professionals can now create content without having to worry if it gets picked up by the traditional media. Social media is one of the biggest factors that will push PR people into the arms of their marketing colleagues.
This also has a significant knock-on effect on the printed press. If people don't get their news exclusively from a newspaper how much longer can the papers survive?
There are two further factors at play. There is so much news available for free and available almost when the news happens. Why wait for tomorrow for what you can read or see it today?
One way newspapers can survive is to embrace the new technology and produce newspapers for the new newsreaders: the iPads, Kindles of this world. Presumably, this is what News International is up to with their revamped Times and paywall.
The other approach is to produce something that digests the news and is cheap. The Independent is doing just that with the launch of i.
All of this will impact on political communications. If the parties don't keep up then there will be an even wider gap between the voters and the political class.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Nick Clegg has said that one of the purposes of the coalition is to redefine the relationship between the citizen and the State.
Many may not like that redefinition, either because it reduces the State or doesn't reduce it enough, but the first test of how well the coalition does on this self-declared aim will be on 20 October.
While the comprehensive spending review will primarily be about tackling the deficit and national debt, it will also indicate how far the governing parties are intending to go in redefining the State for the 21st century.
The challenge for any politician who wishes to change that relationship, whether they are small State conservatives, Labourite mutualists or classical liberals is that there are a lot of people who depend on the State for their livelihoods. As one attempts to change that there is the persistent danger of unintended consequences. Ironically this is one of the reasons that anti-Statist politicians are anti-Statist. The changes may cause problems and put pressure on the coalition to act to resolve them. If this is how it turns out then the redefinition may not be the one Clegg is aiming for.
The second edition of Where the Truth Lies (edited by Julia Hobsbawn) has been published.
The book looks at the way public relations and journalism interacts. By doing so it explores how the truths we read in newspapers and hear about on television and radio emerge.
The second edition, like the first, has contributors from the world of the media and PR.
Like Flat Earth News, it challenges our perceptions about the news we consume.
Monday, 11 October 2010
Sunday, 10 October 2010
I had intended to write a summary of the party conferences but after having attended all three, there representing my employer, I returned to the office with lots of work to catch up on and not many free evenings.
It is now rather old news but here are some random thoughts:
- There were not major rows at any of the conferences
- The child benefit announcement didn't seem to impact delegates at the Conservative party conference yet dominated the news agenda
- In a strange sort of way everyone was taking a breath: the Lib Dems because they are now in government, Labour because they were in the process of electing a leader and a shadow cabinet and the Conservatives because they were in coalition
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Friday, 1 October 2010
David Cameron makes the trip to Birmingham, for his party's annual conference, with polls putting the Conservatives almost neck and neck with the Labour party. The official opposition and his coalition partners have had their party conferences. Now it is his turn to set out his stall and address the concerns of the voters.
Cameron has to prepare the electorate for the changes that the comprehensive spending review will bring while setting out a vision that will make the pain worth it.
He also needs to take his party with him and calm fears that the Lib Dems are somehow wagging the dog.
His opportunity to do all that will be his speech to the party.
Both Clegg and Ed Miliband's speeches were very much aimed at their parties. It will be fascinating to see if Cameron also talks to his people or to the country.
I spotted this on Iain Dale's blog.
I went on the 10:10 website and clicked on mini-film to discover that they have removed the film from their site and apologised. Richard Curtis wrote the script apparently.
In my view, the idea that your life is not worth living if you do not comply is frightening and not in anyway funny.
But judge for yourself here: