They may have been speaking without notes, but the first speeches after the official announcement of the campaign represented an important moment, and the party leaders will have thought long and hard about every word they said.
So what we can gather from those speeches are the key arguments, and also the tone, of the campaign to come. I did not make an exact count of ‘five more years of Gordon Brown’ but it was the single biggest theme that came from David Cameron. It was the only phrase to draw a cheer from party supporters gathered around him, apart from a message of support for the troops in Afghanistan, a sub-Kennedyesque reference to asking what we can do to make our society better, and the end.
There was a lot of talk of hope, optimism and change, and the projection of energy is clearly a a big thing for the Tories, but I would say if there was one driving message, it was a negative one about Labour rather than a positive one about the nature of the change they promise. I also noticed once more his glib reference to ‘this regional nonsense,’ which I hope was spotted by every non-Tory candidate in the country. If anything shows up his near contempt for the idea that government, central or regional, can make a difference to economic or social success or failure, that was it.
All campaigns are a mix of positive about yourself, negative about your opponents, and record. The sense building of the two main party manifestoes is that there will be more substance and more content to the Labour one. I know I am biased, but I think that accurately reflects the way the policy debate has developed in recent weeks and months.I can only assume that the Tory pre-briefing, suggesting a marriage tax allowance is the centrepiece of the manifesto, is deliberately misleading and they have a lot more lined up for the day of the launch.
GB’s main message on the economy can clearly be seen both as a positive or a negative. Only Labour can be trusted to secure the recovery – note the seniority given to Alistair Darling in his positioning in the grouping of ministers behind GB – or, put negatively, the Tories are a risk the country cannot afford.
But I felt that in both public services and political renewal, there is the scope for greater argument around more substantial proposals from Labour than the Tories. That will matter as the campaign unfolds.
The team element was important to the tone too. The Tories will say GB is presenting himself as the leader of a team because he lacks the qualities needed to carry the fight to Cameron alone. But whereas the leaders are hugely important, and even more so in this campaign because of the TV debates, the public know they are electing a government not just a PM. There was a lot of experience and judgement, as well as a few authors of bright ideas for the future, lined up behind him today.
Cameron is not as popular as he was but remains more popular than his party. When he talked about speaking for the ‘great ignored’, quite a few of the most ignored people in the country are in the shadow cabinet, and he is the one ignoring them because the less they are on TV the happier he is.
But if he wants to present the race as being all about him, not only does he risk the notion developing that they are a one-man band, but it falls even more on him to spell out the detail of the change implied in all the words and slogans today.
I know this was not the time for that. Today was indeed about themes and tone, and the manifestoes will be the means by which the detail is set out.
But what I took from this morning is that Labour have more to gain from positive campaigning than the Tories, which is not a bad place to start, provided a bit of good old-fashioned Tory-bashing takes place alongside it.
** Buy The Blair Years here and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
Call me cynical but if Obama hadn’t used change in his campaign, with success, I strongly suspect Green Dave’s mug would be under another banner.
“Only Labour can be trusted to deliver the recovery”. Well, they certainly delivered boom and bust, they delivered the mother of all recessions and they delivered apalling governance of the banking sector. Trust them with the recovery? You must be joking.
AC….you wrote GB’s opening speech or helped to so your biased…enough said.
On Cameron’s speech,you miss the point – the reason people clapped when he said you dont have to have 5 more yrs of GB is exactly that – we don’t want or need 5 more yrs of GB or you lot simple as that…
Dunno about Cameron, or anyone else for that matter, but I am not bothered if GB is leader after the election, but the only problem would be who could replace him.
Wet wet wet(or is it the Borthers Grim), or Grumpy(Guess who?).
GB has a solid record on the economy, a poor record at defending his and Labours record in government and for reminding people what it would be like if the tories had been in power with the banking crisis.
I heard Ken Clark slag off the Labour party on its manufacturing record, not one Labour MP bothered to interupt his commons rhetoric and remind him of what he and Thatcher did to the mining industry, ship building, railways, clothing and the communities that they supported, not one.What are they ashamed of, opur record or the Tories history.
I am not bothered about NIC increases, though I will pay a lot more, but what is the alternative, savager cuts in public spending, a double recession, and remember whatever cuts come in this time will be forever, no party either left or right will ever restore Britain to its level of prior public spending and service provision.
Much like when th eFoot and mouth outbreak got rid of all the mad cow disease, especially that caused by sheep, and now lamb is prohiubitivelty expensive.
So we will learn in paying for the Banking failures and the recession we will all have to learn to pay more for far less.
Brown has attempted to tell it how it is, not the might be story telling of Cameron and Boy George.
Boy George is certainly a very weak point for the tories, I have never seen or heard him answer any querstion with affirmation on anything to do with public spending or th eeconomy. so why aren”t the Spin doctors and focus groups noticing this and pressing them at every turn.
Labour should produce a scale with what they have done and in reverse show how the tories have voted against every intitiative promotoed by the Labour party, including spending on schopols, health, introduction of the minimum wage, tax credits, pension improvements.
Laslt Labour need to explain the Tory Pension lie, they need to explain to the copuntry why the government took money from the Pensions because of company Greed and dishonest trading.
I might not be very good at putting things in words, but as someone loyal to the Labour course, i can only hope someoen may listen.
I really hope it stays positive. problem is the media hardly ever cover the positive policy stuff. they like the attacks and the ballyhoo.
As a gay man I do think it somewhat ironic that David Cameron left LGBT people out of his “great ignored” speech. Talk about being ignored 🙂
As other blogs have mention “great ignored” has a resonance with Nixon’s “silent majority”. I don’t think that a connect exists with the UK public today with “great ignored” as there was in Nixon’s time with “silent majority”.
Gordon Brown is talking about concrete stuff, such as the economy. So he should because that is far more important to people than the “great ignored”.
The attack on the Conservatives is that they are not credible. They have a history of saying they will not put up VAT before elections, then doing it afterwards. The Conservatives have been all over the place for months now. There is no stability in them.
Cameron’s speech was a long list of vacuous slogans. Gordon Brown might not have the charisma of Blair or Obama but he has doggedly stuck to the task of dealing with the biggest crisis of our lifetimes and he did it well. I would rather have him there than Tory boy who I think will turn off as many as he turns on as he parades around our tvs in the coming weeks
Noticed that the Tories new supporters News of the World politics blog has two flies on Green Dave’s face and 1 on Clegg’s and GB’s.
Alastair Campbell involved with the next election? also Mandelson ( I wouldn’t grace him with the lord title). So sad – has Labour not learned any lessons – they have now had a long while to get some new charismatic people up front instead we have these same people dragged out. You will get my vote but only due to the strength of our local MP Andy Reed which believe it or not is the way it is the way it’s supposed to work. If you do get back in it won’t be due to the spinning Alastair Campbell (oh for gods sake communicator writer strategist) or mandy but the strength of your good local mps. I’ve voted labour since 1983 after making the mistake of putting thatcher in but campbell and mandy putting themselves forward as saviours is a joke
In one sense Cameron is right. This election is about the ‘great ignored.’ The man who would be Foreign Secretary, William Hague, the putative Chancellor, George Osborne and the potential Home Secretary, Chris Grayling. It would be interesting to know what these people think but for various reasons the one-man bandwagon daren’t let them near a camera at present.
I have different views on Mandleson and Campbell.
Campbell although someone who seems to enjoy celebrity, is not anything like the vacuous Mandleson.
Campbell I see as an asset, Mandleson I dont.
If John Prescott’s speach following Labours 1997 victory in thanking the input of Phil Wilson in Labour Organisation is anything to go by, there is indeed a vacuum at the top, and the public face of Labour has indeed got problems.
I do believe Campbell is a asset and Mandelson a liability, and Labours record of who’s who confirms my suspiscion.
Phil Wilson fast tracked to replace Blair at Sedgefield, a former lobbyist and little history or ability, but plenty of powerful friends. He was a clerical officer in the Civil Service beofre being a researcher fro Blair, after help bending the rules to have Blair added to the selection process.
Is this what Labour has become under Mandleson as a top New Labour man, those in favour get catapulted into safe and safer seats. Wilson a former advisor to Blair, regularly had his illiterate research rewritten to be legible by the pros at central office.
It is only knowing the background to the party we know who we are supporting. It is time for CLP to pick candidates, not have them imposed by the NEC
Campbell although a willing lacky to Blairs friends, should not be underestimated in what he can bring to the party, Labour or otherwise.
He is solid, loyal and has the network to make labours point heard.
When Campbell speaks or writes, memebers listen, I cannot say the same about Mandleson. He finds the trappings of office much more important than the gruel of the job.
Keep Manadleson in the background, use him for what he knows, if he knows it, but for the sake of the election keep him in the background.
Once t5he election is over let Mandleson seal his own fate, I beleive he would work with the Tories if they asked him, but they won’t because jsut as Osborne will be dropped by the Tories if they win or not, Mandleson and Osborne have something in common, vacuous, no gravitas and opportunist. Osborne has the privledged background and we all know who Mandleson was related to, shame he isnt a socialist.
If this “reminder of the 80s” thing is a runner -it needs to be backed up with facts about the nightmare that they were in terms of the economy and social cohesion -and those facts need to be communicated strongly -e.g in one of the Party Broadcasts. Otherwise it can be partly neutralised by kitsch nostalgia.
And I agree -keep Mandy in the background. The chances of the right wing press having nothing on him are virtually nil. Just sayin
Djunfitforwork yep that was what I was trying to say, wasn’t it?
Anyway Alistair get your pen out, and remind those in the PLP about the past Tory History, and there effect on industry and community, and then get the message out. I am sure Ann Black could help on the details and experience of pre Labour days, and we wouldn’t want to ‘change’ back to those, would we?
What does it say about Labour’s pool of talent that the 4 principal figures in 1997 were Blair, Brown, Mandy and Campbell…and 13 years later not much has changed. TB is off on his world money making tour again now, but his fleeting visit to the UK last week to “support” Brown [L.O.L] saw his script crafted by Campbell.
As for Mandelson, I just think he is an over rated, tired looking panto figure. The boardrooms of the City truly beckon. To hear the unelected Baron opining on Colleage Green about being on the side of working people is the sort of line only Ricky Gervais could have come up with.
The problem for Campbell is that Labour now has a very poor record to defend, including a £168bn debt and a lack of proper equipment for the troops they sent into battle.
Fire up the Quattro. Its time for change.
More unsolicited advice:
It’s surely much better to say that the NI rise is needed to tackle the deficit, rather than repeat the old mantra of paying for nurses and police.
Better to use the Tory NI cut to attack them on their own turf of “I’ll cut the deficit…”