Three-word slogans are Johnson’s preference, particularly: ‘Blame Someone Else’

Illustration by Martin Griffiths
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Three-word slogans have littered our recent political landscape – a bit like the dog muck on a Parisian street.

But such slogans have been around for decades.

Walter Mondale used the advertising slogan ‘Where’s The Beef’ back in his 1980s American presidential campaign – and Barrack Obama was happy to repeat ‘Yes we can’. They and multiple others – especially advertisers – have used this tripling of words to create slogans: ‘Just do it’ is part of the persuasive language used by Nike to promote their products, while ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ was as ubiquitous to the fast-food outlet as ‘Get Brexit Done’ and the equally facile ‘Take Back Control’ was to our recent politics.

What we get dished up is an easy-to-repeat mantra, which does need to necessarily mean anything – or it means whatever you want it to!

Of course, the English language has it origins in multiple cultures, and words also regularly come in and out of political fashion.

With regard to the present government – a word derived from the Greek ‘to steer’ we hear words such as ‘fiasco’ (to suffer a breakdown or break an imperfect glass bottle) borrowed from an Italian phrase while the word ‘shambles’ is also pertinent to our present government’s handling of school examinations, Covid, Brexit, and much – perhaps all – else besides, as it has its origins in city areas where medieval butchers worked on raw flesh producing a bloody mess by the end of the day. While the expression ‘a cock up’ may be pertinent, it has less to do with sexual activity and was a popular military slang for a bungling mess.

Does this remind us of our present Government or anyone connected to it?

Finally, maybe we should consider ‘getting the sack’. The probable derivation of this phrase refers to tradesmen who took away their own tools in a sack when dismissed from employment – although it seems you can do anything in this government and Johnson just blusters it all away: no matter how deceitful you are to the Queen over the illegal proroguing of parliament, how incompetently you handle your ministerial briefs, or how much ridicule occurs after you make a spectacle of yourself in Barnards Castle – you just don’t seem to get the sack!

However, at least there is now a new three-word slogan and government logo:


Martin Griffiths tells it like it is