Selling socialism: the marketing of the 'very old' British Labour Party

2006-03-16T17:47:46Z (GMT) by Dominic Wring
The present incarnation of Britain’s leading social democratic party as ‘New’ Labour underlines the relevance and importance of marketing to politics. Management discourse now permeates the modern electoral process. During the 1990s leader Tony Blair aided by key acolytes such as Philip Gould and Peter Mandelson used marketing techniques and thinking to recreate a brand identity in keeping with their cautious programme for government. In doing so they followed on from their previous work on behalf of Blair’s predecessor, Neil Kinnock. During the Kinnock era the party had undergone a fundamental change akin to a business evolving from a sales to a marketing driven strategic approach. Key contemporary accounts of Labour have tended to reinforce the politicians’ emphasis on the novelty and radical departure involved in their respective projects of organisational reform (Hughes and Wintour,1990; Gould,1998). This, however, is to ignore the role and work played by marketing techniques, personnel and thinking in earlier incarnations of what has often been portrayed as a traditional, conservative organisation.