Monday, January 04, 2010

Tories Dominate Political News Agenda

Well if the election campaign started today, I'm a Dutchman. The media has got terribly excited by it all, but there is no way any political party can keep this up for four months, and if they even try people will be so bored by it, turnout is likely to be an all time low. But having said all that, I do think David Cameron has stolen a march on Labour since Christmas. The Tories managed to dominate the political news agenda between Christmas and the New Year and the campaign launches on Saturday and today have totally exclipsed the two other parties. Labour decided they would try to get in on the act with Alistair Darling but it was all a bit half hearted. Darling looked and talked as if he was going through the motions.

When I was on 5 Live earlier, former Number 10 Communications Director Dave Hill said Labour's strategy would be to contrast Brown's record with Cameron's lack of experience and to play up the economic credentials of Gordon Brown. No vision, no exciting new policies, nothing. Just anti Conservative negativity is not going to get Labout through a four month election campaign, and if that is the Brown/Balls strategy I just cannot see it working.

The danger for the Conservatives is to show too much policy ankle too soon. The higher up the political leg they go, the more chance there is of Labour cherrypicking the policies they like and having ample opportunity to slag off those that they don't. Maybe the risk is worth it. Because if it is the Conservatives who are the ones with a constant fizz of fresh, new ideas and policies, the electorate will cotton on to the fact that all Labour can do is slag them off.

And it is also in the Conservatives interest for Brown-Cameron comparisons to be made. Polls show that Cameron comes off best every time.

Now I know Twitter is not exactly a yardstick to measure much by, but according to Tweetminster, people have been twittering twice as much about the Conservative launch today than they have about Darling's utterings. It would be interesting for them to make that comparison every day.


golden_balls said...

No mention of the quickest U turn in history iain ?

jules said...

"Dave Hill said Labour's strategy would be to contrast Brown's record with Cameron's lack of experience and to play up the economic credentials of Gordon Brown" Mmmmmmmm that sounds a good idea for the Tories - they should be hammering home Brown's incompetence as Chancellor AND as PM day after day. It's that which should lose it for Labour. It's Brown's record which has brought us to the brink of bankrupcy!!

Uri said...

"The higher up the political leg they go, the more chance there is of Labour cherrypicking the policies they like and having ample opportunity to slag off those that they don't."

There was a time when the public could tell a tory policy from a labour one by its nature. Not anymore if policies can be cherrypicked between the two. What's tory about the tories in terms of policy? Some mild rhetoric perhaps but we so desperately need more than that.

Ray said...

have just come away from watching the BBC news at 5 and 6 o'clock, and it was appalling ! They have very obviously set out their agenda for the election, no reporting of the treasury use of civil servants, no criticism of Darlings completely lack lustre reading of someone elses statement, and constantly flashing the Labour find 34Bn gap in Tory figures, as if they have all the answers. If despite this DC can get elected he needs to get a grip of the BBC.

sarah said...

I'm bored of the campaign already. God, we have FIVE MONTHS of vacuous waffle from people who pretend to care a toss about the public?

Shoot me now!!

Reefknot said...

Labour have no policies to speak of. They cannot espouse socialist polices because enough of the elecorate remember 'the longest suicide note in history' and will not tolerate the British version of socialism. Labour got elected in 1997 precisely because they were not socialists. They cannot espouse right wing policies because they will encounter the Tories (allegedly )and in any case they would rather eat wasps. They cannot promise 'more of the same' because the electorate know that more of the same would be disaster.So, what can Labour do ? Answer - almost nothing - except slag off the Tories. They haven't even got a drawing board to go back to. The bloodshed after the election will be very satisfying to watch - Labour deserve it having totally wrecked this country with their utterly useless policies. It can't come soon enough - but Cameron should not be seduced by the prospect of an early election , Brown will hang on by his fingertips until the bitter end.

Charlotte Corday said...

The BBC's 6 o'clock news lead story was very negative towards Cameron.

I'm appalled at how they get away with such biased reporting.

word verification: bentag

Bent all right.

Anonymous said...

'Labour's strategy would be to contrast Brown's record with Cameron's lack of experience and play up the ecomomic credentials of Gordon Brown'?
That is exactly what the voter is going to do and now I can not see through all the tears streaming down my face from laughing so much.
Was this bloke serious?
You got to hand it to them.
When they are thick, by golly they are thick.
Country singers will be singing songs about how thick they are.
Economic credentials.
Good one.

John said...

I felt Alistair Darling was taken apart on TV this morning. He tried to attack the Tory party on their spending and black hole, but every question was directed at Labours black hole, and them not saying how they would pay the Brown debt off.
I think he may think twice before going down this path again.

Anonymous said...

never mind the quality feel the width?

Moriarty said...

Well Labour can take some comfort for the great job Gary Gibbon is doing for them via his platform on Channel 4 News.

Robert said...

What is the difference between a Conservative promise and a Conservative pledge?

Was the statement on the Lisbon Treaty a pledge or a promise? Either way they broke it.

50 p tax?
Inheritance tax?
NHS funding?
Increase in taxation?
Law and order?

When are we going to see some real policies from real Conservatives instead of the middle of the road focus group pap we have had so far.

My vote is going to none of the above!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I'm not sure I agree Iain.

The media response to the Conservatives appears to have been a bit negative with many highlighting the areas where Cameron has not provided committed pledges or pointing to the confusion over marriage being recognised in the tax system.

I'm not sure how much of it matters though?
Will the voters remember any of today come May?

Anonymous said...

I knew David Cameron made a big mistake when he started banging on about 'tax break's for 'married' couples' a couple of years ago. It will come back to haunt him.

It's such a flawed idea on so many levels. Although DC's intention is probably honourable it's unworkable. This tax break idea discriminates against widows , widowers, single people and divorced people ... What does Cameron say to the widow or the abandoned partner? Is that their fault? Is that fair? Do same sex couples get a tax break?

I am happily married. I have nothing against marriage. But I don't want a tax break because of it.

DC has to drop this proposal asap. It hasn't been thought out properly and it will not make people vote for him or his party. He needs to be neutral about 'personal relationships' and peoples lifestyles. DC should let people have their own kind of personal relationships without the government interfering.

There is nothing progressive or liberal about the 'tax break for married couples'. BAD idea, DC. Sorry! It's a thumbs down.

JuliaM said...

It's a shame Labour don't have someone who can help them win the Twitter war, someone to become the competent face of NuLab tweets, someone wh..

Oh! Wait!


Conand said...

"according to Tweetminster, people have been twittering twice as much about the Conservative launch today than they have about Darling's utterings."

Meanwhile the good ol' BBC is just talking about Darling's rubbish. They have totally failed to report the Conservatives' manifesto launch. Did anyone see the three way discussion that Danny Finkelstein was involved in on News 24? The Fink got cut off by the was weird. It was a crap discussion anyway. Mainly lefties talking about how rubbbish they are at everything.
Earlier, Robinson and Esler spent some time telling viewers how bored of the General Election they are going to be. I have two points on this:

1. Maybe people would be more interested in the BBC coverage if the BBC actually reported what had happened during the day.

2. By the same token would the BBC not have assumed that viewers would get bored by the US Presidential election? If they really think like that why did they give that election more air time than they ever give to UK domestic politics? Maybe the BBC assumes people are more interested in elections they can't vote in than those they can. That is a really weird point of view, but then again BBC News bods seem to be very weird people who are completely out of touch with the concerns of everybody.


Terence said...

Why do the Tories never respond to the 'lack of experience' jibe by asking just what experience Mssrs Blair, Brown et al had after 18 years of Tory government? If I remember correctly Jack Cunningham was the only person in Blair's first cabinet who'd been in government.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Did not Saffron Walden High School and/or UEA assist in distinguishing the comparative and the superlative? If they are Brown-Cameron comparisons it is a matter of coming off "better", not "best".

When I point out my daughters' infelicities of diction, their defence is to say they are "Thatcher's children". What's I.Dale's excuse?

At a quick scan, I would have used the correcting pencil at least 14 times for the poor punctuation. After all, we all have to live up to Gove's wish to raise standards.

Norfolk Blogger said...

And Cameron has made a prize chump of himself in doing two u-turns in one day.

Anonymous said...

"if it is the Conservatives who are the ones with a constant fizz of fresh, new ideas and policies...". Yeah right. About as much fizz as a stale can of Stella. Let's difference. The global warming scam difference. The un-winnable and immoral war in difference. Maybe a bit of tinkering around tax and spend, but difference. Looks like UKIP will get my vote. To be quite honest, I'd rather vote BNP than for Cameron's neo-Marxist party.

Glyn H said...

I heard Mr Darling came on this morning and the BBC reports of his attack on the Conservatives and my first thought was what the hell was he doing. He is paid substantial sums by the taxpayer to address the crisis in Britain’s economy caused by this administrations gross mismanagement of the economy.

Coming out in such a partisan manner, outside an election campaign proper, should be beneath the dignity of his office. What small men these are, and what huge damage they have caused.

I seem to recall that when Mr Robinson was suckering his way to a job (notwithstanding his own disastrous record) by funding Mr Browns office and taste in take away meals and beer with the likes of Mr Wheelan and Mr McBride and Mr Balls the shadow chancellor was very close about what they were going to do until safely elected, bar saying they would stick to (the highly successful) Tory plans and policies. Only when he got the bit between his teeth and started on the Grand Socialist Splurge (which the PM was to ‘frit’ to stop) did he wreak upon us the disaster now evidenced in every news bulletin – cuts in the Army, cuts in Lollipop ladies, cuts in higher education – in direct contradiction of their policy of shoving 50% of Yoof through ever more daft degree courses. The detritus of their failure is everywhere to be seen, from speed cameras to our extradition arrangements with the US. From the EU budget rebate to the building of army vehicles in Vienna instead of Birmingham.

That near 30% of our nation could vote for these monstrously hypocritical, malevolent and incompetent clowns is beyond comprehension.

Anonymous said...

What is obvious is that the big 3 parties are really all the same. If they weren't it would be easy for them to express what they stood for. As a conservative I won't be able to vote for any of them.

Anonymous said...

Iain, do you like the new Vanity Fair cover? :)

Iain Dale said...

No idea. Haven;t seen it.

ian said...

Policy Ankle?

Tachybaptus said...

The _Vanity Fair_ cover shows Tiger Woods, wearing a woolly hat. But I don't think it would float anyone's boat. Canvas, dear, are you being unkind to Iain? Not nice.

(No, he isn't wearing anything except a woolly hat.)

javelin said...

Iain, you, The Tories, New Labour abd Nick Robinson all believe they are in control of spend and tax. They are not. Taxes are at their limit. Spending must fall.

The markets will decide how deep the cuts will be. Momentum over the next year will mean politicans will have to make promises TO THE MARKETS (not the electorate) to stop a crisis.

I work on the trading floor at one of the big global investment bank. The only thing stopping a collapse is the expectation that Cameron will have to cut spening by at least 10%.

Tony said...

Totally disagree Iain. Just watched Sky News and BBC. Cameron looked like an utter numpty today.

phillip said...

dominated by gaffe/u-turn, and withdrawal of pledges on NHS and changes that have already occurred, a disastrous day for Cameron, Fraser Nelson has it right - doesn't look battle ready

King Athelstan said...

I thught Alistair Darling looked like He was going through some motions, his, Browns or Balls' I don't know whose.Nice of him to point out that the Tories can't promise anything because the economy is screwed. the devil is in the detail.

Anonymous said...

What a balls up today from Dave.Open GOAL for Brown for the next few months.

Anonymous said...

For all the wrong reasons.Nice one Dave.

Conand said...

ITV mangled their 10 O'clock news too.
There is a big wedge of audience share for the broadcaster who can actually report what has happened in the General Election campaign from day to day. None of the major broadcasters seem capable of doing this at the moment.
My favourite section of the Conservatives' rebuttal of Labour's New Dodgy Dossier was this (needless to say this went unreported on the broadcast media):

"In several cases Labour’s calculations actually show our policies costing less than we had budgeted for:

Our policy to abolish stamp duty for first time buyers costs £300m according to Labour,less than the £400m we had budgeted for and funded with a levy on all non-doms.
Our policy to cut the main rate of corporation tax by 3p costs £2.5bn according to Labour,less than the £3.7bn we had budgeted for and funded by reducing complex reliefs and allowances."

Absolutely priceless really. Labour issuing stats that actually back up the Conservatives' policies and prove them to be even more affordable than they themselves thought.
Wow! That was a really great attack Alistair Campbell! In my mind I said that with irony, but the sad fact is that it was a good attack. The broadcast media totally swallowed it as far as I can see from reports and as I have already said they discussed it at far greater length than Cameron's actual, real policies that he actually published and really talked about in a real speech which by the evening wasn't being reported at all. Classic Campbell smoke and mirrors crap.
Jesus really bloody wept.

Dimoto said...

Nobody watches Channel 4, except Labour loyalists and a few greenies - everyone knows Snow just repeats what Gord and Sarah told him at their weekend 'wine and cheese'.
Actually, most of the electorate just don't watch. This will only get mildly interesting 2-3 weeks before the election.
The Sun knows what it is doing - they know that a week after Christmas, with the credit card bills yet to arrive, the last thing their readers want is a bunch of trivial politicking.

But Cameron has been looking alarmingly peeky for some time now - is he in the middle of giving up smoking ?

Thanks for restoring Name posting facility Iain, why was it taken away ?

tapestry said...

Because Labour control the Propaganda Ministry, the battle to get the message out will be harder than ever.

On the positive side of the account, there is The Sun, the blogs and the high level of motivation of canvassers to canvas....and the economy.

People feel the downdraft of the recession, in the country with the highest current borrowing in the world, and the only one not to get back into growth.

The financial situation is so bad that no matter how much they dress it up, people will be suffering endlessly and unnecessarily. If voters still don't get it and vote insane lies back into power once more, they will unfortunately deserve everything they get.

You would have thought people would have got there by now. The problem is the power of propaganda. As a German once told me, you will not understand war until you have seen the power of propaganda. That was thirty years ago. Now I do.

Anonymous said...

@tachy - unkind to Iain? no way. I thought Iain would enjoy the irony of it all. The photos are hilarious. Annie Leibovitz is broke. She took the photos in 2006. I guess she has to pay her rent somehow. hahaaa.

Anonymous said...

I thought yesterday's media reporting, particularly from the BBC was totally biased against the tories. No matter what channel I turned on, they all appeared to be highlighting this apparent 'gaffe' by David Cameron over their marriage tax plans. His statement was perfectly clear to me but the hysterical reporting thereafter was truely appallying. They really do have an uphill struggle but I shall continue to vote for them.

Anonymous said...

"Director Dave Hill said Labour's strategy would be to contrast Brown's record with Cameron's lack of experience and to play up the economic credentials of Gordon Brown. "

Good luck with that one labour, you'll have us all rolling in the aisles if you try that one. Ostriches, head in sand time.

Mark Pashley said...

Could Alistair Darling be prosecuted for "misappropriation of public funds" for using civil servants to compile the 150 page dodgy dossier?

Damon said...

I saw this Serene Smugness Liam Byrne on C4 last night with Philip Hammond

He had absolutely no answer to the completely pedictable question (I precis) forget about the alleged Tories' £34bn black hole, what about the published government £178bn one?

Neil Durham said...

No Dave, we can't go on like this: