Well, we got a right old debate going yesterday, when I picked over the parody that was Dave’s performance on the BBC News, and the uber-parody of a piece in the Telegraph on so-called Tory Cool.
I’m not pretending all comments, whether on the blog, Facebook or Twitter, were supportive of my view, and there is no doubt there is a strand of opinion out there that simply says Labour have had it, and nobody is terribly bothered whether Cameron is up to it or not. Depressing in a way, but also a sign that he is there to be beaten, because the public has nothing like the enthusiasm for the Tories in 2009 that they had for Labour in 1997.
There are also regular voices on here and on my Facebook page, who have genuinely switched from Labour to Tory, though I can’t help thinking for some of them this is more a case of going where they think the wind blows, so that past Labour associations will not harm them too much, socially and politically, if a new lot comes in. Others will hold a genuine belief that Cameron has geuinely changed his party … but even when I try really, really hard to be objective, I find it difficult to see how.
But of all the comments that came in, the one I want to draw attention to was on Facebook, from Barbara Cannon, arguing with Tory convert Nic Careem. ‘I just have to look around my town,’ she says. ‘Two new road by passes, one new hospital, a new University, a new FE College, new police station, new build in a new town centre, major investment in endless community facilities, minimum wage, tax credits, Sure Start Centre, Children’s Centre, we are still enjoying the lowest rate of unemployment in the last thirty years!!! also lowest interest rates. None of this would have been possible with the Tories.’
There are three main strands to an election campaign for a party of government – defence of the record, attacks on your opponents, and setting out a forward policy agenda. The last of these is the most important, but you need the other two just as much.
What Barbara is showing is that even after the economic crisis, there is a great record to be defended, and we need to do a much better job of defending it. With so much media negativity, and with the Tories so keen to run the country down, if you’re not careful, people simply forget the progress there has been. It then gets taken for granted, like it would have happened anyway, and people overlook the fact that many of these changes happened because Labour were in power, and the Tories were out of power. The defence of the record is directly linked to the attack on the Tories.
It requires people at every level of the party, with ministers and MPs at the front of it, never tiring of setting out the changes that have been made, and the Tory efforts to stop them. It also increases the legitimacy of the foward policy agenda being put forward.
People vote for the future, rather than on the past. But the past is often the best way of signalling what that future holds. This is a country changed for the better, however much media and political opponents say otherwise, and a bit of Barbara’s fight at every level would help get that message across whilst Dave faces up to another series of tough choices looming in his in-tray …
Tie or no tie for lunch at The Guardian?
Vogue or House and Garden for my next big ‘policy’ interview?
Congrats letter to Fabio Capello now, or wait till all qualifiers over?
Good luck message to England women’s team ahead of tonight’s Euros final, or shall we wait to see if they win?
Commiserations with Scotland manager George Burley, or does that risk associating us with defeat?
Find out if Mercury prize winner would like to sit on music task force team.
Should we have a music task force?
Get new Beatles box set. Have them next to CD player next time Nick Robinson pops in for breakfast shots with Sam and kids. Get Tara Hamilton-Miller to do piece of my love for Beatles.
Could we get Paul McCartney onto music task force? Ringo?
Can we blame Brown for SBS/Taliban/kidnap/death story without offending troops or media?
Send flowers to Tara H-M for her lovely piece in Telegraph on how cool I am. Roses or lilies?