Alex Massie

A Future Fair for All

Text settings

Yup, that's what the whizz kids and the marketing gurus at Labour HQ have come up with for Labour's election campaign slogan*. A Future Fair for All. Try that one on for size. Note too the now traditional absence of punctuation that further obscures the meaning. As one wag put it, the Tory response might be A Fête Worse than Death.

More than anything else, however, it reminded me of Wolcott Gibbs's classic profile of Henry Luce. Published** by the New Yorker in 1939 it remains a hoot today and a devastating parody of Luce's bombast and the special, magnificently empty prose style he favoured at Time.

Timespeak, however, seems to inspire our political parties. A Future Fair for All is, as Gibbs (almost) put it, Yet to suggest itself as a rational method of communication, of infuriating citizens into voting, was strange, inverted Labourstyle. Verily, Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.

And, as Gibbs concluded, triumphantly, Where it will all end, knows God!

This latter, of course, might be a depressingly apt summary of a campaign that has every chance of setting a whole series of new and dismal lows. 

*Seriously, what's wrong with A Fair Future for All? Sure, few people are promising An Unfair Future for You but at least A Fair Future for All is, you know, English. Then again, Sunder Katwala's suggestion that Labour's slogan (if they must have one) should be Fairness Doesn't Happen By Chance is a better, if still grisly, "frame" for Labour's message.

But they're all at it. Here's Wee Dougie Alexander explaining that the difference between Labour and the Conservatives is Change is a process: future is a destination. That's what the man said. Normally you need to spend a lot of money on management consultants and brand mangers and whatnot to produce such guff. Of course, perhaps that's what they did do. The best that may be said of it is that while dumb it's not as idiotic as 2005's Forward Not Back.

**And available in this terrific selection of classic New Yorker profiles. Recommended.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePoliticslabour partynewspapers