I could commence this piece by debating why slogans influence voters, no matter how tiresome, no matter how monotonous. But why bother? We know they work. Why bother to question their use, or scorn those who use them? It is surely more practical to examine how to use them creatively. This piece is just the beginning of the search for the killer slogan.
Recall how potent was Tony Abbott’s ‘Axe the Tax’. Remember how Julia Gillard’s ‘price on carbon’ was twisted into a ‘carbon tax’ by Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin, who later admitted that was what they did quite deliberately, knowing how mendacious that was, and how lethal that misrepresentation would be. Reflect on how the ‘carbon tax’ slogan changed the meaning and intent of Gillard’s ‘price on carbon’, demonized it, killed it, and eventually her prime ministership too.
The obvious truth is that these tiny sound bites are easy to remember. As you read this, stop for a moment to recall Abbott’s three word slogans. It would be surprising if you did not remember: ‘Axe the Tax’, ‘Repay the debt’, ‘Stop the boats’, and ‘Stop the waste’.
Over and again PM Morrison used two key slogans: ‘Jobs and Growth’, and ‘Building our Economy, Securing our Future’. They captured important elements of LNP policy. His oft-repeated homily: ‘If you have a go, you’ll get a go’, while superficial, even folksy, had popular appeal. To bolster the LNP's economic credentials, Morrison and Frydenberg cheekily coined: ‘We’re back in the black’ although a surplus is still years away, adding their own brand of alliteration: ‘We’re back on track’. It was a smart, although dishonest slogan.
The LNP’s negative slogans were even more powerful, reinforcing what pollsters have peddled for years, namely that the public believes that the LNP is a better manager of the economy than Labor. ‘Labor can’t manage money, so Shorten’s coming after yours’, ‘The Bill Australia can't afford’, and ‘Paying off Labor’s debt’, hit their mark powerfully. Morrison hammered the line: 'There's a big price for changing government', and reverting to John Howard’s ‘Who can you trust’ meme, assailed us with: ‘Who do you trust to manage a $2-trillion economy.’ and ‘Who do trust to keep the budget in surplus?’
Do you remember Bill Shorten’s prime slogan for this election: ‘A fair go for Australia’? It was appropriate, as a ‘fair go’ is a central element of Labor’s belief system, but why not ‘A fair go for Australians’, or better still ‘A fair go for all Australians’, or even better ‘A fair go for you?’
More powerful were his: ‘Everything is going up, except your wages’ and the lines about Liberal cuts. His negative slogans though did cut through when he referred to the Coalition's 'Chaos and division' and 'A coalition of creeps, crackpots and and cranks', contrasting it with his 'united party'.
Somehow though his slogans lacked potency. They fell rather flat, delivered as they were without the verve they deserved. He might have had more impact had he spoken the words he used at the May 30 Labor Caucus meeting: “We are the party of progress, we are the party of reform, we’re the party of the big picture, the party that champions the big changes.”
Anthony Albanese made a good start at his address to Caucus: ”Labor is not just a political party; Labor is a movement for a better Australia.”. The statement has both punch and depth.
As commentators responding to the election analysis How, Why? suggested the piece should have had a go at creating some slogans, here it is.
Initially I searched Wikipedia for Labor’s slogans. I found a list, but it is at least ten years old. Take a look at the list. How many are still in use? Most are union slogans. Many would now grate on voters.
So let’s start with some contemporary ones with a positive tone. None though had the potency of Gough Whitlam's 'It's time', although Labor did try to evoke the memories of that 1972 election.
I invite you to add your own slogans in 'Comments'. I’ll send them to Albo as our contribution to the next election.
Labor wants a fair go for you.
Labor wants a fair go for all.
Labor wants all Australians to share this country’s wealth.
Labor wants prosperity for everyone, not just a few.
Labor wants a better deal for the next generation.
Indigenous Australians deserve the same as other Australians.
Indigenous Australians must be lifted out of poverty and disadvantage.
Indigenous Australians deserve respect and recognition as the nation’s first people.
Indigenous Australians must be recognized in our Constitution.
Everyone is entitled to secure employment.
Everyone is entitled to satisfying employment.
Everyone is entitled to decent wages.
Let’s get wages rising again.
Corporate profits are soaring; let’s lift wages too.
Let’s encourage large and small business to expand.
Labor is ‘business friendly’.
Business builds our nation’s prosperity.
Employers and employees together will build a better Australia.
Restore Victoria’s fair share of federal infrastructure funding
Stop wage theft by greedy employers.
Stop employers cheating you by not paying your superannuation on time.
Restore penalty rates.
Everyone is entitled to a safe workplace.
Everyone must be able to come home safely.
Every family deserves to have loved ones come home from work unharmed.
Labor will increase childcare funding and gives a fair go to millions of households.
All school leavers deserve to get a good job
All school leavers deserve a good education and sound training for work.
All school leavers deserve a place at university or TAFE.
Everyone deserves a financially secure retirement.
Everyone deserves reliable superannuation.
No one should be in poverty after retirement.
Everyone deserves high-quality health care whenever they need it.
All Australians deserve affordable, accessible health care.
Good healthcare for all.
Everyone deserves decent end-of-life care.
Everyone is entitled to a clean, unpolluted environment.
Our children must be able to inherit a sustainable planet.
We owe it to our children to clean up pollution and preserve our country and all its precious assets.
Farmers need security of water supply, protection against adverse conditions, guaranteed markets, and financial security
Overseas trade must be promoted and preserved.
Trading tariffs and regulations must foster international trade.
Trade barriers must be reduced.
Let’s now try a few negative slogans.
First, avoid reference to ‘The top end of town’
Avoid slogans that disparage business, executives, and shareholders.
Use instead: Labor encourages all who seek to become shareholders.
Shareholders are the backbone of Australian business.
Here are some personal slogans that might strike a chord.
Go slow Scomo
Can Slomo do it?
Where’s your miracles Scomo?
Morrison, show us your miracles.
Here are a few pointed ones aimed at Coalition behaviour:
The Coalition looks after its masters.
He who pays the piper calls the tune.
Big coal calls the tune.
Big business calls the tune.
One Nation and the United Australia Party call the Coalition tune.
Here are some that aim at Coalition weak spots:
Will the Coalition protect our planet?
Will the Coalition save the Barrier Reef?
Will the Coalition stop rising sea levels?
How will the Coalition tackle droughts, water shortages, land degradation?
How will the Coalition manage threats to endangered animals and species?
Will the Coalition reduce carbon emissions, not just talk about it? How?
Emissions are still rising. How will the Coalition stop them?
Will the Coalition stop pollution by plastics? How?
Will the Coalition clean up Australia? How?
How does the Coalition intend to reduce pollution?
The Coalition says it’s serious about promoting renewables. Show us how.
If you’re interested in the slogan game, you may find this reference of interest:
It’s time to unpack this election’s campaign slogans by Judith Ireland, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald of May 7.
Let’s leave it here. It was not my intention to provide an exhaustive list of slogans, but simply to suggest where a start could be made. Those listed above are only examples. There are many other areas that lend themselves to telling slogans.
Please add your own slogans in ‘Comments’ below. I’ll forward them to Albo. Every slogan we can send him will contribute to success in 2022.