Why housing must get its story straight

“Every penny you spend on housing subsidy is money you can’t spend on building houses.”

David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions, 10 February

Sound bites can be a useful way to convey a simple, memorable point.

Used well, they can conjure powerful, evocative messages that people remember. Politicians love them and use them to distill grand and complex plans into a key point.

Problem is they often miss the fundamental, complex realities that are an essential part of the story. When that happens, people are more likely to misunderstand the issue at hand.

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Pledge to use the five point plan with care

Ed Balls made waves today with his first Labour Party conference speech as Shadow Chancellor, but it was his use of the five pledge ploy that was most interesting to me.

His five point plan for growth was well packaged for news gatherers and the public, reducing complex policy into memorable bite sized chunks. Some are quick to make the point that this is an old PR tactic that harks back to New Labour’s glory days, when the party framed its 1997 manifesto on the back of a pledge card. It was simple and brilliant and set a mode of political communication that remains well used today.

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