That these designations are typically vacuous and point to little of substance matters not. Fail to play the game, and posterity will forever associate you with traffic cones hotlines.
Yet Ed Miliband – raised in a household where the finer points of political sociology will presumably have been routine conversation over the cornflakes – has yet to offer us a boiled-down manifesto.
The result is that even those of us who are well disposed towards the Labour leader remain at a loss to define his message.
Yes, I am glad to see someone in the top job who does not treat trade unions in the same way as US Marines treat the corpses of captured Taliban combatants, and who is even ready to appear on a TUC platform.
But for Miliband simply to define himself as standing for ‘fairness’ in the abstract is not enough. It is not as if any politician of any stripe stands up and openly features iniquity, malfeasance, discrimination, injustice and horsewhipping small children as central to their programme.
And worthy as it is to demand that grannies should be on the lowest available dual fuel tariff, as visions of the future good society go, this is hardly up there with ‘I have a dream’ in the inspirational rhetoric stakes.
The result is that Miliband leaves himself open to sniper fire from both directions. The Tories would slag him off whatever he did, of course. But his continuing lack of clarity gives Blairites and Blue Labour the opportunity constantly to repeat charges of strategic drift and lack of narrative, and the cumulative effect is damaging.
A credible elevator pitch would at once disarm the critics and give Labour Party members something to sell on the doorstep. How hard can it be, Ed?