Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Talking About Decapitation is Just Plain Stupid

I'd love to know the name of the bright spark of thought up the idea of a "decapitation strategy" to get rid of various Cabinet Ministers at the next election.

After all, it worked so well when the Liberal Democrats tried it last time, didn't it? All it does is to make the Tories look rather triumphalist and vindictive.

However, The Observer's Gaby Hinsliff thinks it is an example of how high the Tories' electoral ambitions are nowadays. Maybe. But it's a needless distraction. It is one thing to have such a strategy, it is another to talk openly about it. All it does is allow the MPs concerned to prepare.

Campaign strategists who talk to the press about campaign strategies need to be muzzled. It rarely ends well.

34 comments:

Man in the Street said...

I think a decapitation strategy is just what is needed for all MPs, regardless of colour or creed.

They're all bas*ards.

Anonymous said...

The Conservatives should make sure today is the last we hear of such words.

The Lib Dems Decapitation strategy only worked against Tim Collins and within some seats they already held.

North Norfolk Conservative PPC will not be following such a strategy. There are so many things he can sell about himself:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2739978611

Anonymous said...

Well said Ian, nothing to add.

Steven said...

Couldn't agree more. I read the story in this morning's Daily Telegraph, and was very surprised at the strategy behind releasing this strategy! I really wonder if the Conservatives are now trying to avoid being elected, after all. Who can blame them, they are going to inherit sheer chaos if elected next year!

Sean Haffey said...

Well said.

If it were a strategy, it would just distract us from some winnable seats to some less winnable ones and give any targeted survivor bragging rights.

Dave B said...

If you read the telegraph story, the quotes do not talk of a 'decapitation strategy', the journalist does.

The 'source' just says that:

"We not going to move ahead of ourselves but a number of senior ministers could go if the swing to us moves into double digits. Some Cabinet ministers should not feel safe."

Bill Quango MP said...

Its all Balls.
Or its all about Balls.
One or the other.

Tony Sharp said...

It is frustrating that while examples of this arrogance are allowed to surface, the leadership runs a country mile from a frank debate about any matter of substance - the most recent examples being the approaching energy gap and best way of delivering healthcare in this country.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of something that Lynton Crosby once said: (and this is paraphrased) "there are very few people in a campaign whoactually know the strategy, it is kept under lock and key. Those who spout off to the media usually don't know anything and are just trying to seem important to their contacts."

sceptical said...

The one thing that could keep the Tories out of power for another five years is overconfidence/ arrogance/ hubris / whatever you like to call it. Just think Neil Kinnock 1992 - 'We are the Champions' etc etc.

David from Ealing said...

It might work with a few, but in some cases it will just emphasise the fact that people have a Cabinet Minister as their MP, which many people actually quite like. At least they know their MP is doing something, even if it does cost the taxpayer a bit more.

Bardirect said...

I don't know anything about the constituency but it gives someone like Balls something of a dilemma - will he maximise his vote by spending time in the new constituency or would a lower profile be in his own interests!

Nick said...

The government has 8 trillion of debts including pensions.

You can't afford to spend at the current rate either. 180 bn a year more than you take in taxes.

180 bn is the minimum needed to be cut, and because of the 8 trillion, the figure needs to be even higher.

If you have to cut that much, then you don't need the ministers to administer, since their departments have gone.

Get real Iain. We can't afford lots of ministers. We can't afford 650 MPs either for that matter.

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain, what you appear to be saying is that such a strategy is perfectly acceptable - it's just that Tories shouldn't talk about it...

John said...

Thanks for reminding me once more about El Portillo and his night of the long knives moment. Aaaah - now, relax

Iain Dale said...

What I am saying is that it didn't work for the LibDems and was a complete distraction to their wider campaign. It would be if the Tories did it too. So I am against such a strategy. But if they have such a strategy, there's no point in broadcasting it to the world.

Owen Meredith said...

Surely the talking about campaign strategies comment should be extended to Eric Pickles' last youtube installment?

While enjoyable, surely issuing 'top tips' publicly can't be the best idea?

Anonymous said...

The report looks like nonsense flammed up out of next to nothing - all it really says is that there are a number of high profile figures which might conceivably come a cropper if the Conservatives do particularly well. Which is a not terribly earth-shattering observation given some of the notional majorities and swings seen in polls, by-elections and experience (i.e. what happened when the electorate turned on the Conservatives in 1997).

If anyone in CCHQ really is planning on targeting seats (i.e. allocating support / resources) based on the profile of the labour incumbent rather than our prospects of making a gain then they would deserve a slapping. I very much doubt that is what is going on.

Nick (in the naughty corner)

Scrobs... said...

Aaah but think on...

Vulnerable MPs like Ed Balls are highly unlikely to throw this back in his face are they!

They know damn well that they're in dire trouble, and now the 'So what' Kid will wonder what to do for the next 9 months (which to my reckoning is 36 weeks in politics, maybe seeming a damn sight more if you're worrying about what you're going to be doing in July 2010)!

Good strategy, but needs to be used sparingly. They'll probably do it agian in the Autumn, after all the blood letting from the conference wastefulness.

Havocman said...

Anonymous said...
Well said Ian, nothing to add.

August 19, 2009 2:01 PM

Other than an extra "i" into Iain's name, obviously. ;-)

talwin said...

Possibly the Tories are a bit late with this one. For, do not Labour already have their own decapitation strategy: run the country into the ground and 'elect' Gordon Brown as prime minister.

Anonymous said...

Unless of course you want labour to divert what little money it has from the "battlegound" seats or at least spread the money even more thinly so you can just hoover them up.

Gallimaufry said...

A decapitation strategy wouldn't stop Alan Duncan talking, alas.

trevorsden said...

Dave B - I take your point, but the 'source' also says we are after some big scalps. basically you do not have to be a psephological genius to work out the possibilities.

Nick - the debt is £180 billion and we are spending too much. But the debt will also come down with extra revenue from increased growth.

Against this of course is the need to reduce national debt and set aside money in the good times.

The excuse Labour are using to ignore cutting expenditure is to live with the excess debt and just pay the debt interest. They pretend that we can live with the huge debt even in any future good times. Under labour we will be in an even worse state when the next downturn comes than we were for this one.

This is the perennial labour disease, the great weakness in the Labour /Socialist character. Like junkies they are addicted to spending our money - and as we are witnessing spending one extra of our pounds does not become enough they have to then spend two and so on.

Anonymous said...

A LibDem concept which failed.Can't someone keep those kids at cchq quiet during the school hols?

canvas said...

@ grim reaper - are you accusing Iain Dale of being disengenuous?! never.

David Cameron is very personable - he is very likable. But the public are losing steam with their 'protest votes' and they appear to be reconsidering their newly found affection for DC's modern Conservative Party. DC is OK - but it's appears the rest of his party are still considered 'undesirables' by many - old school Tories a huge turn off.

As much as people warm to DC - I think they'll probably get cold feet in the voting booth...and vote green or lib dem instead. (obviously Labour won't be getting many votes if Gordon is still on the scene).

Unsworth said...

On the other hand it might be the old double-bluff, bluff, to gee them up.

Either way anything which unsettles this shower is, as far as I'm concerned, a good game.

Nick said...

The debt is not 180 billion.

180 bn is the estimate for the increase in Gilts this year alone. It is the difference between tax revenues and spending.

Total debt is completely different.

There is 800 bn of outstanding Gilts alone. There is another 1.15 trillion owned in pensions to state workers alone. Scale that up for everyone's state pension, plus those in the state second pension. Add on PFI, nuclear decommisioning, guarantees for ex state workers pensions, and the banking bailout, and you will get 8 trillion.

Your share is 300,000 pounds, with interest accumulating on top.

Nick

Nick said...

Next assumption


Nick - the debt is £180 billion and we are spending too much. But the debt will also come down with extra revenue from increased growth.


Does the debt come down with increase growth? Nope it doesn't. That's one of Labour's little lies.

Look back at historical growth figures in the UK. 2-3% p/a at most over the long term.

Now look at the cost of borrowing money, currently 4.5% for the government.

The growth figures are below the borrowing costs.

ie. The government is borrowing at a rate higher than the expected return. It loses money on the deal, and the debt figure is going to grow

Nick

Alex said...

Forget "decapitation", think in terms of "ethnic cleansing".

Salmondnet said...

On the other hand it would be bliss to see them go.

Siberian Tory said...

@canvas

Sorry canvas but I can't agree. Come the general things are going to get very hot and heavy. The drama and tension between the two parties is going to squeeze the lib dems out of the running. Also, as I understand it the lib dems finances are not in good order.

The libs will be bogged down fighting anti-tory defensives and anti-labour offensives. I agree with Iain that for the libs it will be roundabouts and swings come the next GE.

If the libs were serious about becoming the party of opposition they'd focus on killing labour. Labour may well swing back to a very old fashioned form of socialism after the next GE (assuming they lose) leaving the middle class left wing vote up for grabs.

My caveat would be that this depends on no (more) major gaffs by Tory high command.

Joe Public said...

Won't get rid of Mandelson, though, will it?

Quietzapple said...

I recall laughing up my sleeve (high necked sweater) at someone who favoured "Snatch squads" in an election 20 years ago.

Will you have a thread on those . . ?