The Conservatives can be pleased with their media impact since Parliament recessed for Christmas:

The party dominated the holiday period: The frontbench scored a number of front page splashes including Eric Pickles on council tax (Daily Telegraph); George Osborne on tax relief (Sunday Times), Michael Gove on teacher absence (Daily Mail), and James Brokenshire on knife crime (The Sun).  The Liberal Democrats once saw holiday periods as an opportunity to fill the gap left by the main parties.  One of the successes of Andy Coulson’s CCHQ operation is that the LibDems are now denied easy hits.  The return of Oliver Dowden to the party’s political section is part of the explanation for increasingly improved operation.

Yesterday’s announcement on tax relief for savers:
After a feisty performance by David Cameron on the Today programme the tax reliefs announcement won broadcast attention throughout the day.  I  missed the evening TV news bulletins but the Conservatives actually led Radio 4’s Midnight News – relegating Gaza to the number two spot.  The Mail, Sun, Telegraph and Express all give thumbs up coverage this morning.

And today shadow cabinet members are holding meetings across Britain to discuss the party’s plans for fighting unemployment: David Cameron will be in Salford, Michael Gove in Plymouth, Plymouth, Jeremy Hunt in Bristol, Caroline Spelman in Southampton, Theresa May in Maidstone, Philip Hammond in London, Andrew Lansley in Ipswich, Andrew Mitchell in Nottingham, Sayeeda Warsi in Birmingham Birmingham, George Osborne in Cardiff, Eric Pickles in Leeds, William Hague in Tynemouth, and Chris Grayling in Edinburgh.  When I worked at Conservative Central Office I remember a presentation when we were told that regional media was more trusted than national media, broadcast media was more impactful than print media and most trusted of all was third party media like the RSPB magazine.  I don’t know where the internet fits on the scale but today’s well-planned operation involving local journalists, business leaders and voluntary organisations will have a significant impact even if not noticed by the Westminster lobby.

Tim Montgomerie