People got a bit surprised when they heard about snap elections in UK. This was also due to the fact that British Prime Minister had earlier said that no matter what she will not call snap elections. When this surprise call was made there was a huge gap of 24 points in opinion polls between the two main contesting parties and although people were told that this call is made for strong leadership in Brexit negotiations, this poll differential was the mouth watering reason for calling an early election.
But a week before the election things have drastically changed and the poll differential has shrunk down to 3 points which started at 24 in April. So what has changed and more importantly why? It’s the same Brexit and the same NHS and the same social care issues etc. with which Theresa May had acquired, what looked like an invincible lead before the election was called.
For sure things happened on communication / PR front. Key Messages could not bear the test of discussion once they got exposure at the right forums. Something that was not happening in the absence of election fever. So which messages just evolved in the campaign and resulted in a drastic shift in opinion polls. Following are some which came to my mind. Don’t forget that the slogan or the mother of all the election communication Strong and Stable got the biggest hit in this election process. Had this not been the slogan most of the criticism could not have been born.
- PM calling snap elections, although earlier she had very categorically said that this will not happen. This was a U Turn, something which does not reflect well on Strong and Stable leadership.
- PM not appearing for debate with the reason that she will prefer to talk to people rather than politicians. Well at the end of the day politicians are competing as they always do in an election. This again did not reflect well on PM’s claim of having Strong and Stable leadership qualities.
- Jeremy Corbyn’s change of mind and decision to participate in debate and throwing open challenge to the PM was a very good PR move.
- PM giving the message that she is the only one who can negotiate on Brexit. There is no logic behind this which would convince anyone that she is the best among all. This does not reflect on ability but on arrogance and was a continuation of her earlier chest beating claim that she will prove a bloody difficult woman during Brexit negotiations. Only in WWE circus claims are made this way.
- No Deal vs Bad Deal. Again a grey area of communication. Totally vague. Left her own voter confused and also contrary to her claim that only she has the capability to negotiate a great Brexit deal.
- U Turn on Dementia Tax. This generated huge backlash giving birth to all sorts of negative messages for torries campaign. This is where Weak and Wobbly was born.
In all, “Strong and Stable” message which was suppose to guide the tories to a comfortable election victory became a PR mistake, driving all the ridicule and criticism towards their campaign.