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Thursday 20th February 2014 | 10:02
Ever since Sunny Jim Callaghan's 'Crisis, What Crisis?'* moment, British politicians have been wary of being out of touch with voters' worries about the state of the nation.
It's also become something of a truism that Governments hate making a drama out of a crisis, while Oppositions love 'em.
But just as they ridicule the Tories for shoehorning 'hard working families' into every statement, Labour seem to be crisis-obsessed in their own pronouncements.
Labour's press releases have mentioned the word 659 times in the last 5 months alone. It seems that they've forgotten how to say anything else. You could even call it 'crisis-itis'.
* A housing crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/75677995889/osborne-has-admitted-that-we-face-a-housing-shortage
* A care crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/75477510021/the-state-of-the-nhs-speech-by-andy-burnham
* A Government crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/74271128844/vernon-coaker-response-to-the-latest-round-of-armed
* A crisis of competence: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/73247328873/this-report-is-more-evidence-of-complacency
* A looming recruitment crisis for doctors: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/76837021500/david-camerons-a-e-crisis-is-deterring-newly-qualified
* A teacher recruitment crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/64904133664/the-divisive-policy-on-free-schools-is-nick-cleggs
* Which presumably led do a schools places crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/76238073973/ed-milibands-hugo-young-lecture
* Which had no help from the 'childcare crisis': http://press.labour.org.uk/post/66902793729/joseph-rowntree-foundation-research-on-family-poverty
* And nothing was done thanks to the 'inexcusable crisis' in free schools http://press.labour.org.uk/post/69631896292/nao-report-shows-camerons-flagship-free-schools
Some have been happening for a long time like:
* The 'quiet crisis': http://press.labour.org.uk/post/66083737032/ed-miliband-speech-on-dealing-with-the-cost-of-living
* The 'ongoing crisis in the prisons system': http://press.labour.org.uk/post/76627913080/the-severe-shortage-of-space-in-our-prisons-system
While others pop up quite quickly like:
* A flooding crisis http://press.labour.org.uk/post/77066339582/governments-transparent-attempt-to-try-grab-a-few
Occasionally you can spot them morphing from one to the other like:
* A 'growing crisis' for women: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/68828648090/womens-aid-report-is-a-damning-verdict-on-theresa
There have been many different crises to do with the economy:
* There's the 'financial' crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/74112276818/response-to-kings-fund-report-on-nhs-finances-andy
* And the 'global financial crisis': http://press.labour.org.uk/post/74482807151/labour-to-reverse-camerons-tax-cut-for-people-earning
* A banking 'crisis': http://press.labour.org.uk/post/73604990200/one-nation-economy-speech-by-ed-miliband-mp
* A personal debt crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/64904133664/the-divisive-policy-on-free-schools-is-nick-cleggs
* An economic crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/62346467643/gibraltar-a-fully-self-governing-part-of-the-european
Some economic crises are even caused by Labour's own donors like:
* The Grangemouth crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/65038785868/grangemouth-announcement-response-margaret-curran
Even the weather seems to be causing difficulties. There was the:
* autumn crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/75477510021/the-state-of-the-nhs-speech-by-andy-burnham
Which naturally progressed into:
* A 'winter' crisis: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/76627141275/news-figures-are-further-evidence-that-a-e-departments
(As it happens, there has been no 'NHS winter crisis' that some feared/predicted, perhaps because of the milder temperatures - it's been rainy but not cold).
Maybe it's time to ration the party's use of the phrase. Otherwise, it may look like Labour's PR machine is in 'crisis' itself...
*FOOTNOTE: 'Crisis, what crisis?' was of course the famous Sun headline that paraphrased/misquoted Jim Callaghan. On his return from Guadeloupe, the then PM actually said: "I don't think other people in the world would share the view there's mounting chaos". It wasn't a direct quote but caught the mood and the rest, as they say, is history.
Given the fun Labour has had with the Tories' decision to hyphenate or not 'hard-working families' (or even 'hardworking' and 'hard working families'), it's worth noting that Labour has used the phrase 'cost-of-living crisis' 252 times recently, compared to 217 uses of the non-hyphenated 'cost of living crisis'. They may need a style guide, as well as a cliche-remover.
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