By Matthew Barrett
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After PMQs on Wednesday, Labour launched a campaign, the price of Tory failure, which attacks the Government's welfare policies. The idea is to target 60 marginal Tory seats where the number of families receiving in-work tax credits is greater than the MP's majority.
CCHQ have responded with a hard-hitting campaign in the same 60 seats. In targeted online media, banner ads contrasting "hardworking families" and "people who don't work", illustrated by a man sitting at home on his sofa, will be displayed on local media websites. This echoes one of the most successful policies of the Coalition – the welfare cap.
The first ad can be seen here, and the second ad (pictured right) here. The ads lead to a survey on the Conservative website – "Who do you think the government should be giving help to?".
Grant Shapps has often spoken about his use of surveys and petitions to drive up Conservative support in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency. Now as the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Shapps is using the same method to collect email addresses, communicate with respondents, and spread the Conservative message.
The CCHQ response also includes a more detailed leaflet which will be distributed to the 60 target seats and more. The leaflet's central attack reads:
"Our welfare bill has grown out of control with the something for nothing culture that Labour created costing the taxpayer billions. Cutting this bill is vital to cutting the deficit and living within our means. At the same time we are reforming the welfare system to make sure it is based on fairness and encourages people into work."
In an email to CCHQ colleagues on Friday, Shapps heralded two points about the campaign: speed and message. He said that by the time Labour launched their campaign, CCHQ had already placed the advertising rebutting their message in exactly the seats they were targeting. On message, Shapps said Labour's attack had given CCHQ a good opportunity to herald one of the Government's best-supported policies.
It is welcome to see that a combative approach to campaigning and social media is being taken by Mr Shapps. The fact that CCHQ is paying for a comprehensive campaign in Tory-held seats, shows the new Chairman is not complacent about Conservative prospects in 2015, and is rightly taking action to head off Labour attacks against MPs with slim majorities.