Good speech by GB, good interview by Douglas Alexander in The Guardian, and a few more narrowing polls may well see Tory jitters becoming a fullscale wobble.
The pundits are being pretty dismissive of ‘a future fair for all’ as a slogan, on the grounds that it is a bit same old same old. On one level they’re right – back in 1997 ‘future not the past’ and ‘many not the few’ were central to Labour’s fight.
But the consistency of ‘a future fair for all’ is among its strengths. It underlines Labour’s enduring values. It allows scope to draw attention to the Tories’ enduring values – in particular ‘few not the many’ policies like inheritance tax cuts for Dave and George’s 3000 closest mates. And it reminds people this election, like all elections, is about the future.
If Labour can win the argument about the kind of future Britain needs – especially in relation to ‘securing the economic recovery’ and creating the jobs of the future – and can win the argument on fairness, the closing of the gap will continue.
The Tories really should be doing so much better, and must be getting worried as to why they’re not. An economy that has gone through a period of genuine crisis. Politics dominated by expenses. A current war becoming more unpopular and a recent unpopular war returning to the centre of the political debate. A tame media that fails to pursue them on difficult questions. A huge spending imbalance in their favour which is allowing them to put up expensive posters all over Britain, and fire millions of letters to voters in marginal seats.
Yet as their spending has increased, their lead has not increased with it.
Douglas was right, in his Guardian interview, to point out that the Tories are fighting a TV campaign in a more networked age. Right too that the lesson from Barack Obama’s use of the internet is about building on the most trusted form of political communication – word of mouth. People believe and trust both politicians and media less than they did. They believe each other more. It means face to face campaigning, and its online modern equivalent, matter more than ever.
GB seemed comfortable with the message he put to his audience of party activists today. That is important, because the main message carriers have to be at ease with what they’re saying. As Douglas points out in The Guardian, Cameron is ‘caught between his branding and his beliefs.’
For a large part of his term as leader, Cameron has had a free run from the media. The public however have started to look at him more closely, and have been less impressed than his media supporters suggest they should be.
It all means that though Labour remain the underdog, there is a fight on now. When Andrew Rawnsley was putting the finishing touches to his book, out soon, ‘The End of the Party’ seemed a fair enough title as Labour limped towards oblivion.
There will be some who think it is the title, rather than Labour, that looks a bit outdated as the serialisation starts tomorrow.
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