The central questions in the forthcoming election campaign remain the same, and so do the answers.
On the question of which party is best able to meet the challenges facing Britain, which party has the experience and the judgement and strength in depth to secure the recovery, which party has a policy agenda for the future that is rooted in values of fairness, which party will protect frontline services without making dogmatic and unfair cuts, then a good case can be made that the answer to all of those questions is Labour. Labour has to keep making that case with verve, vigour, guts and gusto.
The Tories scored a media hit with their national insurance non-rise, and it may in part have played through to the polls. But far from enhancing their economic and political credibility, over the course of a campaign, it can be shown to have further damaged it.
Easy politics does not make for sound economics. Making promises without having the first clue how to fund them – today’s papers are littered with them – is simply evidence that they have given up on long-term credibility in the pursuit of what they hope will be short-term political popularity.
So far from removing from Labour’s claim to be the best party to secure the recovery, as the Tories claim, the NICs move underlines it. Labour long term v Tory short term. Consistency v opportunism. Leadership v weakness. Sums that add up v sums that don’t.
All the promises made today, if followed through, would lead to fresh economic calamity in a Tory tomorrow. We know the media like a lot of what the Tories are saying and doing because most of them back ‘time for a change’ either because they are bored with Labourafter three terms or because they are actively supporting the Tories. But over the remaining weeks of this campaign, there is a very good chance the public will think about some of these issues more deeply, see through the Tory strategy of making promises they cannot keep, and understand too that the same David Cameron who spoke of standing up to vested interests a short time ago, of facing up to tough choices and doing the right thing for the long-term, is now doing the exact opposite.
He and his colleagues will say anything, even if they know they will have to end up doing something very differently, and even if they know that their sums don’t add up.
Labour has to stay focussed on those big questions and the big challenges facing the country. This was always going to be a tough campaign, for all of the parties. But at least GB has a record to point to, of taking difficult decisions and seeing them through. It part explains why we have a recovery at all. When the going looked like getting a bit tough for Cameron, politically, he chose the soft economic option and the easy road. He gave up on the deficit as his number one issue and reverted to where his party always wants him – promising tax cuts he won’t be able to fulfil if he is to meet his other pledges. It has won him a short-term headline battle. But in the weeks ahead, it may not seem quite as clever ashe and George Osborne seem to think.
— Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http;//www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
Two words, Alistair:
Absolutely right .. they are getting away with it because the media want them to, but the party needs to fight back harder
My worry is the public don’t care about the big questions. They care about celebs and aren’t even listening
Face it, Alistair, the non-Budget was a mistake. Labour putting off any difficult decisions until 2011 was a mistake. Putting up NI is a mistake. Mandelson’s petulant sulk against our most successful businessmen was a mistake. Keeping Gordon Brown as PM was a mistake. And THAT poster – unveiled with Tweedledee and Tweedledum in attendance – was a mistake.
As far as the country is concerned, NuLabour was a mistake.
Alastair U rock……..why cannot others see the Tories for what they really are..
Thurrock doing ok!!!
@AC “But at least GB has a record to point to, of taking difficult decisions and seeing them through.”
You are, of course, joking. Its April 4th today, not April 1st……
My guess is that the NIC non-rise of the Conservatives will be like all else that they do, for some initially rather appealing, but soon it will be revealed under scrutiny to be a rather bad idea.
They seem to have simply abandoned worrying about the deficit now. For months they had been telling us that the deficit is to be reduced as first priority.
Now they are desperate to increase their opinion poll ratings so they are promising to dole out money.
As a gay man I have been watching the Chris Grayling “B&B’s should be allowed to discriminate” story.
Apart from the contradiction between his semi-private views and his public views this is calling into question David Cameron’s leadership. After all, how come the Conservatives felt that Ulster Unionist Adrian Watson should be deselected as a parliamentary candidate after he said he was uncomfortable with gay guests in his B&B, but apparently the Conservatives have nothing to say about Chris Grayling? Does David Cameron have any ability at all to control the shadow cabinet members?
60 leading economists recently signed an open letter to the FT supporting Labour economic strategy. This seems to have disappeared into the ether. We need to blow our own trumpet a lot more than we do and remind the media who are the grown ups here.
60 signatories to the anti NI increase. Most are bosses of retail operations, most of who’s staff earn below the £20,800 threshold set for the 1% NI increase, so the increase won’t apply to those employees & won’t be levied on the employer. The Tories would love to think that these bosses would bring a block vote of their staff with them to the Polling booth…but they don’t.