Any ConHome reader worried about the modest tightening in the opinion polls should listen to a feature from Radio 4’s indispensable Sunday night politics programme, The Westminster Hour, transmitted yesterday evening. Leala Padmanabhan’s seven minute package revealed that confusion continues to reign within Labour as to how to attack ‘David Cameron’s Conservatives’. Listen to the package here.
The package noted the variety of attack tactics that Labour has employed since David Cameron became Conservative leader:
- The idea that the party has changed too much and doesn’t stand for anything anymore (Labour’s Chameleon campaign).
- The idea that the party hasn’t changed at all and is really the same old Tories.
- The idea that the party is just a party of Toffs. This tactic was tested most enthusiastically at Crewe and Nantwich and by John Prescott with his David Cameron is "just an ordinary lad from Eton" jibe.
One tactic not examined within the report is Gordon Brown’s "This is no time for a novice" tactic (a reheated version of the ‘Cameron is weak’ attack). Our guess is that that is going to look a lot less attractive if Barack Obama wins well in America.
There were three main contributors to the package:
- The independent academic Tim Bale (and regular ConHome contributor) who described the Conservative team as the "most gifted opposition" since Tony Blair. Dr Bale thinks Labour would be foolish to focus their attacks on David Cameron (eg as an estate agent) as they go against the grain of the electorate’s view of the Tory leader: "The more they’ve seen of him the more they have liked him."
- Alistair Campbell said that the most important thing was that Labour rediscovered its zeal for attacking the Conservatives. He thought the Tories should be attacked for political cowardice and for not standing for anything serious.
- YouGov’s Peter Kellner said that it was a mistake to attack the Tories for being policy-lite. Floating voters choose politicians for their reasonableness and competence. Kellner suggested that Labour makes the election about the instincts of the wider party, rather than David Cameron.