We’re at that stage of the football season players and managers call ‘the business end’. In election campaigns, the business end comes earlier in the cycle, with the launch of the manifestoes, Labour’s today, the Tories’ tomorrow, then the Lib Dems.
It has been interesting to dip in and out of the papers and online and see the comments of undecided voters. Of course to political tribalists like me, the concept of an undecided voter is an odd one. Labour are so blindingly obviously better for the country than the Tories – what’s not to decide about?
But there we are … We are not all made the same way, and truth be told there are more undecideds than in any election I have ever been involved in.
That is why this week, with the manifestoes and the first leaders’ debate, is more important than the last one with all the skirmishing that went on.
But if there is one over-riding impression from the undecideds’ comments it is the sense that even if they’re not as keen on Labour as they once were, they’re really not sure about the Tories.
David Cameron, helped by the media, has made much of detoxifying (sic) the Tory brand. But I’m not sure he has succeeded.
Also, the nature of his campaign is exacerbating the doubts people have about him rather than easing them. The more he speaks, the less he seems to say. To quote a letter in The Guardian this morning on Cameron’s words in that paper yesterday ‘Our solution is to use the state to remake society, to build the Big Society, enabling people to come together to drive progress.’ The letter writer, Tony Rhodes, said ‘I read the statement several times and still find it utterly without any meaning. Am I alone in this?’ No, Mr Rhodes, you are not. And remember this is not something said off the cuff. Cameron wrote this drivel.
I have every confidence in Labour’s manifesto being serious, substantial and focussed on the big challenges facing Britain, and every expectation that the Tories’ will be full of glitz and gloss and a few nice distractions to get them through another news cycle or two. I’m thinking something like an actor from Casualty appointed to run the NHS.
But I think people are beginning to notice that Cameron never actually says anything. So yesterday he goes for a walk with Ian Botham for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research (great charity) and goes all indignant about a perfectly accurate Labour leaflet on cancer. What he didn’t do was deny that he will not keep Labour’s cancer guarantee. But the picture was all that mattered. The same as his walk with Michael Caine was all that mattered. And tonight it is an emotional interview that matters. And on it goes, policy barely in sight, because he wants to make it all light and fluffy and hope the media don’t press too hard with difficult questions.
But my last word as we reach the business end goes to ‘blue-collar voter’ Jeanne King, 64, one of the ‘voters’ verdict panel’ in the Guardian.
‘I think Gordon Brown is sincere bit he doesn’t know how to get it across on television,’ she says. ‘I thought he was good when he announced the election … I’ve always voted Conservative but I think David Cameron would wreck the place. He was jogging earlier this week – who is he trying to kid? He’s trying too hard and he’s just got a face you just want to hit. I’d love him to knock on my door, I’d give him what for.’
Is it only me that hears that kind of thing from people everywhere I go?
The Tories want to frame this election as ‘do you really want five more years of Gordon Brown?’ I think the idea of three more weeks of David Cameron is starting to push a lot more people than Jeanne King in GB’s direction.
People know Britain is on the road to recovery, and worry he would wreck it. He hasn’t sealed the deal … because they sense he is not the real deal.
*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
Do you ever wonder why, after 13 years of New Labour, “there are more undecided voters than ever”? And as for 5 more years of Gordon Brown, the economy cannot possibly sustain another 5 years of his stewardship.
A few weeks ago, at a campaign launch, I took the opportunity to tell Andy Burnham about problems I experienced while in hospital.
I told him that I was sorry to pull a Minister to one side about it but if I didn’t and simply wrote to him I’d get a letter of spin from the comms unit and having been down that road before, on other issues, it would be pointless.
Mr Burnham said get your MP to write to me direct and I will personally investigate.
I received a letter on Saturday on the subject and it was exactly what I would have got if I hadn’t approached the Minister, a comms unit reply from another MP.
While its probably true that as a member I shouldn’t have taken advantage of the opportunity to speak to him direct I am extremely brassed off about taking the time to speak to him & little if anything being done.
Will it make me not vote Labour? No, simply because Green Dave and the rest of the whoops-a-daisy clan are worse and because of my experience of living in an area run by ‘a new Tory’ council which has seen crime rise and services cut but it does make me warn about the dangers of saying one thing in private and then doing something completely differently.
The more I see of Green Dave the more convinced I become that the wheels will actually fall off the Tory bandwagon before the election. I just hope those leading the Labour drive don’t blow it as badly.
For ages I’ve thought that people are just sick of seeing/hearing David Cameron.
I’ve said this a couple of times in these comments 🙂
When that poster “we’ll cut the NHS not the deficit” arrived with the picture of David Cameron I think it was the last straw for many. They were fed up with this guy just shoving his great mug into their lives all the time.
I loved the crack of the man in the pie shop who told Cameron there was no meat in the pie. Their whole campaign is about evading policy scrutiny and turning it into a kind of Hello v OK contest. He reallt does take the public for mugs
Politics always has been and always will be about ideas. Gordon loses to Cameron on spin. He wins on ideas. Always.
“Is it only me who hears this kind of thing everywhere I go?”
Regular A.C-watchers will now be familiar with this technique, in which he quotes one, often anonymous person who has *told* him that the Tories are a wicked bunch who would send kids up chimneys, and embellishes it to be the norm. He tried it with the very effective Tory anti- Brown posters, when an unnamed taxi driver allegedly told AC he was unimpressed, leading AC to claim that the Tory campaign had not caught on with the wider public.Its a classic Campbell deception technique, but it won’t wash. The Britsh people want change, not 5 more years of waste and debt and excuses.
The fact remains that not a single opinion poll shows anything less than Campbell’s beloved Labour are in Michael Foot territory- heading for the rocks.
Its time for change.
Dear Mr Campbell,
In answer to your question “Is it only me that hears that kind of thing from people everywhere I go?”, I was thinking the same thing over the weekend and nearly everyone I speak to say the same kind of thing. I.e. that they do not trust the Tories and don’t like them.
I think Labour should do more to translate the code embedded in the Tory statements such as the one you quoted and that Tony Rhodes commented on. I think a lot of the public are still not aware of Tory ideology (their core aim being to diminish state infrastructure and to leave EVERYBODY to their own devices – sink or swim….. as they did in the 80’s & 90’ – look where that got us).
All in all, despite the media’s obvious support for the Tories (see the BBC’s lengthy coverage of DC’s puke-provoking corporate speech in the warehouse last week), I think Labour (especially GB, AD) are showing real integrity, which I think, the British public really admire.
I think it is fairer to say that it is only you who doesn’t seem to hear what people actually say about Gordon Brown.
Where is it exactly that you go to hear the true voices of Britain and why are you not hearing what the rest of us hear every time we go down the pub?
Take a random sample of people down any pub and ask about Brown and they will say variously “weird”, “bonkers”, “liar”, “unelected”, “indecisive”, “said he’d abolished boom and bust”, “worst prime minister of all time”. And in fairness they will also say “serious”, “hard working”, “believes in what he is doing”. But I have never heard anyone say that they like Brown, or want to see more of him on TV, or want another five years of him…
Perhaps your hearing is ever so slightly selective?
Far from ‘This is no time time for a novice’ the Great British Public actually seem to be coming round to the opinion that, ‘This is no time for a smarmy, patronising git.’
***Bizarre photo op of the day – Dave “Not David” Cameron in yet another bizarre example of product placement. Last week he was speaking about the virtues of his tax policy against a backdrop of loaves of Warburton’s bread. This morning we see him espouse the virtues of society against a backdrop of London Pride bitter.
***And another thing…’Tackling Homophobic Bullying In Schools’ rockets to the front page of the conservatives.com website! Just make sure they don’t visit a B&B when they’re grown up though, eh?
@AC: “I have every confidence in Labour’s manifesto being serious, substantial and focussed on the big challenges facing Britain”.
Fans of Ridley Scott’s other great works of fiction may well wish to wait and compare Labour’s Manifesto with his upcoming “Untitled Alien Prequel”.
There was a plastic man,
Who had a plastic face,
He said some plastic things,
And ran a plastic race,
He said he’d hug a hooddie.
And ride a husky too,
He made a lot of promises.
His nose, just grew and grew
But when the people said,
What will you do for me?
The dreaded answer came,
“I’ll build, a plastic economy”.
I’m particulary irritated by ITN news, the official news organ of the Tory party – tonight all high and mighty about MP’s getting legal aid when surely the news of the day is the launch of Labour’s manifesto… You’d have thought.
How about taking your blinkers off for just one day ?
‘Labour are so blindingly better for the country…’
For you and your millionaire chums like Blair and Mandelson they may of been, for Gordon’s mates in city like Fred Goodwin they may of been and for your army of money-grabbing MP’s like Morley, Chaytor, Devine, Moran, Hoon, Byers, Hewitt…,they may of been. For most of us they have been an absolute disaster.
13 years you’ve had, is this country a better place to live in ?, is it B***ocks.
Another 5 years of Labour is unthinable and will not happen.
A female blue collar voter who has “always voted Conservative”, thinks Gordon Brown is sincere and that Cameron has a face you just want to hit. It isn’t only you who hears that kind of thing, but it is pretty much only Guardian readers. Either the quote is made up or the characterisation of the author is.
Not that it comes anywhere near the vitriol regularly heaped on Gordon Brown, but presumably you can tune that out.
I note you have not put my comment up yet again. Too close to the bone I presume?!
Is what you are really sick of that Cameron is actually a much better man than Tony Blair ever was? Or have you forgotten the guff you all produced pre 1997? It was all vacuous nonsense and Gordon Brown was at the centre of it. He is obsessed by PR – the idea he has substance in any way other than physically is hilarious. People don’t hate him because of where he comes from or how crap he is on TV. They hate him because he has lied so many times. made up the figures. Never admitted errors. Always accepted events were down to his own magnificence etc etc. He had 10 easy years as chancellor and has taken no difficult decisions. None. Even the action on the banks was the easiest route to take. We need someone who has the nerve to make essential decisions for our country’s future and the ability to communicate. David Cameron is the only option for Britain. I will be giving him the chance. I hope he doesn’t mess it up like Blair did.
Cameron was onto another bandwagon tonight. Having claimed all his own expenses to the hilt he waded into the MPs/legal aid issue even though he knows such decisions have nothing to do with the govt and pretended it was somehow a political decision. He is a total opportunist.
I was undecided until I was canvassed yesterday – by a Tory. They were patronising and snobbish and then it dawned on me they were clones of their leader
Re – Cameron’s soundbite..
Come on Alastair. Talk about pots and Kettle. This is exactly what we had from Tony Blair in 1997. Labour might like to pretend that Blair was more sincere than Cameron, but lots of people I know don’t see any difference.
Vote for the puppet on the left. No! Vote for the puppet on the right!