For the nth time, I will point out the difference between strategy and tactics and suggest that David Cameron and George Osborne are rather better at the latter than the former.
Watching Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Peter Mandelson take apart the Tories’ National Insurance deception – glad to see they were calling a spade a spade – was a reminder of that esssential Tory weakness.
They assume that if they get a good media hit out of something, they have won the day. And they think if they win enough days in the media war, they will win with the public.
Yet even with the media heavily loaded in their favour, and even with the hit they enjoyed with their NICs rabbit the other day, and the roll-out of business support, it does not appear to have had the desired efffect. And it is interesting that is they who want to move the debate away from this particular issue, and Labour and the Lib Dems who want to keep a focus upon it.
I had all but forgotten about the James Report until GB mentioned it this morning. It brought back awful memories of the last campaign in 2005 when this heavy tome was unleashed upon us, identifying all sorts of areas where government could save money and so fund the promises being made by the Tories.
It took a while, but bit by bit we pulled it apart until its credibility was gone. The same is now happening to the four page memo on which DC and GO appear to be basing their entire economic ‘strategy.’
By happy coincidence, this morning’s press conference took place against the backdrop of an OECD report suggesting the UK was better placed than other countries to emerge from the recession strongly.
That sense of recovery, and the government’s role in it, is without doubt one of the reasons why the Tories are failing to pull away in the way they had hoped to by this stage of the campaign. But the inexperience and judgement of DC and GO are also factors, as is the sense many people have of their elitism and their lack of connection with most people’s lives.
One of the most efffective parts of this morning’s event was when Alistair Darling reminded people of the serial misjudgements Osborne and Cameron made at the time the global economic crisis struck. This latest misjudgement – a promise of a tax cut without real explanation as to its funding days after saying the deficit was priority number 1 – stands in a long line.
As GB mentioned a few times in PMQs exchanges in the last year or so, the Tories were wrong on the recession and wrong on the recovery.Tactics will only take you so far if your strategic response to the single most important event of the last Parliament, and the single most important issue for the next one, is wrong.
* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
Watched the press conference. GB and AD effectively destroyed the Tory case.
But will the press follow it up?
Watching DC and Michael Caine ….. wil the press be dazzled by the celebrity or will they ask some searching questions….?
Michael Caine will get a lot of publicity but it actually underlines and emphasises the case – that they are not serious. I hope and pray the public can see through the emptiness of what Cameron was saying. watched his press conference. Fairly tame questions
Problem is only a small number of people watch it all. I agreee they demolished the Tories but by the news tonight it will be a little bit of this a bit of that and all churned into a mush by the media. I wish everyone could folow the debate closely but most people are just getting on with their lives and catch the oddd bit here and rhere
The most interesting part of the press conference was when BBC Newsnight Economics Editor Paul Mason asked Mandelson how he could criticise the Tories for uncosted cuts, when Labour had promised a £15bn cut yet not even held a Public Spending Review. Baron Foy’s face at this point was a picture. He visibly floundered.
“err…you get the picture though” he stumbled
We do indeed, Peter. Its time for change.
AC. You are happy to lecture others but it is YOU who might benefit from listening to what real people say for a change.
Unlike Gordon Brown, most people actually like Michael Caine AND what he has to say:
“You’re saying to poor people, ‘let’s tax those rich gits’ and I understand that. You slice up the cake, give everyone a chance, but don’t destroy the people that are making the bloody cake! I really believe about taking care of people, I don’t mind paying tax. It’s how the government spends my tax that I detest, really detest, because I see the waste. More money than all our income tax is spent on benefits. Now you tell me there is nothing wrong with that system.”
AC – re the OECD …dont you agree that if you throw 1 trillion quid at the UK economy it should show signs of a recovery?? I mean come on 1 trilion quid !!
Campaign rapidly falling into those like you who like the minutia of it all and those who will switch off fairly soon and wait for polling day and then say ” change or not ” ??
I suppose it wasn’t surprising that the BBC News last night didn’t mention the OECD report; no more than we’ve come to expect. But of course if it had said that the UK was forecast to have the weakest recovery it would have been the headline story.
Yesterday I was hearing about the OECD report a lot on Radio 4. I don’t have a TV, so I listen to the radio a lot.
I think that perhaps the key to the election now is to start sounding positive about the future, but with a strong sense of responsibility.
Labour is to be positive while being responsible. After all we owe our success to calm, measured and sensible actions. We are optimistic but we have a lot of work to do.
Conservatives are positive but without any sense of responsibility. They are “firing up that Quattro”. They are promising this and that, but it is on a wing and a prayer.
Your piece: “Tories wrong on recession, wrong on recovery” is as leaky as our defence!
the essential point is that Brown hosed money at essentially unreformed public services (to some good effect -admitted) but continued to hose that money in way beyond net tax receipts for years and years, even in the boom years. Now in the bust years, We cannot sustain the spend.
Despite all this “hosing” of money under Liebour,even in the Tory years Burnley had a hospital A & E, now the ambulances stack up at Blackburn due to capacity constraints. Mind you, perhaps it’s Burnley based ambulance occupants for refusing to set foot on Blackburn soil!!
Even crock economies such as Italy are only running a 5% defecit whilst Germany 4% and France 7.5% are at deficit levels much less than ours at 12.7%. Our defecit is only forecast to get back to Italy’s current deficit levels in 5 years time!! – by Voldemort’s own figures. What a monumentally crap state of affairs.
Brown is like Laws in some respects – Clueless!
A good comeback from GB today.
It’s quite clear that the Tory strategy is to sprinkle un-costed policies around, hopefully set the news agenda for that day, and then move on to something else before anyone notices it’s a load of incoherent rubbish.
This approach will only get them so far and the public will, as has happened previously, be left feeling the Tories are attempting to dupe them with a slight of hand.
By standing firm on his NI pledge and continuing to argue his case GB is forcing onto the media agenda that which he commands so well…detail.
I wrote a bit of the James Report in ’05. Much of it was made up.
And the Tories ill-judged sojourn into Northern Ireland politics continues.
If you can source a recording, listen to the BBC Radio Ulster interview with Theresa May on her visit to NI today.
I can’t decide whether my favourite piece is the Paxmanesque exchange with the interviewer, or the slightly too loud whispered prompting of an adviser to tell her the names of some of the local constituencies .
I think I have worked out the Conservative election strategy.
They seem to be trying to run it like their successful 1754 campaign in Oxford.
(See William Hogarth’s splendid series of paintings in Sir John Soane’s museum – “An Election” http://www.soane.org)
The Tory NI policy is a direct rip-off of the “give us back our 11 days” campaign when the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752. An emotive nonsense based on a deliberate misunderstanding.
Keep diggin your own hole – the Tories must be loving it! Literally JCBs to the ready.
The principles of the parties are coming across loud and clear. Labour will raise taxes before tackling waste. The Tories will tackle waste before raising taxes.
Labour know ‘cuts worse than thatcher’ are required but do not have the nerve to do it. What will you cut? You’ve said plenty about which taxes you will raise. Seems you are only capable of doing the latter.
TIME FOR CHANGE.
Well, remember the theme song for the first “Italian Job” ; “It’s a self-preservation society…”
Speaking of serial misjudgements, remember GB’s wonder strategy to sell off gold at an alltime low and cost the country £6bn? Or the fact that brilliant GB lead us into recession with a £40bn annual defecit? Or that brilliant, brilliant tripartite bank governance system that GB established? That worked well didn’t it?