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Game definitely on. If polls narrow more, Tory jitters set in

Posted on 20 February 2010 | 2:02pm

Good speech by GB, good interview by Douglas Alexander in The Guardian, and a few more narrowing polls may well see Tory jitters becoming a fullscale wobble.

The pundits are being pretty dismissive of ‘a future fair for all’ as a slogan, on the grounds that it is a bit same old same old. On one level they’re right – back in 1997 ‘future not the past’ and ‘many not the few’ were central to Labour’s fight.

But the consistency of ‘a future fair for all’ is among its strengths. It underlines Labour’s enduring values. It allows scope to draw attention to the Tories’ enduring values – in particular ‘few not the many’ policies like inheritance tax cuts for Dave and George’s 3000 closest mates. And it reminds people this election, like all elections, is about the future.

If Labour can win the argument about the kind of future Britain needs – especially in relation to ‘securing the economic recovery’ and creating the jobs of the future – and can win the argument on fairness, the closing of the gap will continue.

The Tories really should be doing so much better, and must be getting worried as to why they’re not. An economy that has gone through a period of genuine crisis. Politics dominated by expenses. A current war becoming more unpopular and a recent unpopular war returning to the centre of the political debate. A tame media that fails to pursue them on difficult questions. A huge spending imbalance in their favour which is allowing them to put up expensive posters all over Britain, and fire millions of letters to voters in marginal seats.

Yet as their spending has increased, their lead has not increased with it.

Douglas was right, in his Guardian interview, to point out that the Tories are fighting a TV campaign in a more networked age. Right too that the lesson from Barack Obama’s use of the internet is about building on the most trusted form of political communication – word of mouth. People believe and trust both politicians and media less than they did. They believe each other more. It means face to face campaigning, and its online modern equivalent, matter more than ever.

GB seemed comfortable with the message he put to his audience of party activists today. That is important, because the main message carriers have to be at ease with what they’re saying. As Douglas points out in The Guardian, Cameron is ‘caught between his branding and his beliefs.’

For a large part of his term as leader, Cameron has had a free run from the media. The public however have started to look at him more closely, and have been less impressed than his media supporters suggest they should be.

It all means that though Labour remain the underdog, there is a fight on now. When Andrew Rawnsley was putting the finishing touches to his book, out soon, ‘The End of the Party’ seemed a fair enough title as Labour limped towards oblivion.

There will be some who think it is the title, rather than Labour, that looks a bit outdated as the serialisation starts tomorrow.

 *** Buy books and raise cash for Labour. http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.

  • Roger Charlton

    I work in the City which, as we have had such a difficult year,and because the financial services might normally be expected to want a more right wing economic approach, but I have never known such scant enthusiasm for the idea of a Tory government replacing a Labour government which has been in power so long

  • Matt Forde

    Game definitely on, but I worry we do not have the foot soldiers for the face to face campaigning Douglas Alexander is talking about. He is right, but it requires people and organisation which Obama had in plenty and we don’t. Therefore the Tory money does become an important advantage

  • Jonathan Bryning

    Narrowing polls or not, there was quite a bit of evidence of a Tory wobble when I was out canvassing for Labour in Chester this morning. I came across quite a few people who have formerly voted Tory who are now having serious doubts about voting for them in the general election. Yes, the game is most definitely on!

  • Leo

    Why the idiosyncratic word order? It sounds odd. ‘A future fair for all’ is a word order strange. But then GB is a man strange. I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe the Tories slogan would’ve been better as ‘like this cannot we on go’.

  • @jlocke13

    he may mimic the Obama campaign techniques but there is one problem…Gordon Brown is no Barack Obama…

  • Patrick James

    A small opinion poll by Kindler suggests that in my constituency, Hove & Portslade, Labour is ahead. This is an very marginal constituency indeed. Celia Barlow won it by a handful of votes in 2005.

    In these Brighton & Hove constituencies the LGBT vote is very important. I feel that if Labour committed to allowing LGBT people to marry as opposed to just forming civil partnerships, this would go a long way to securing these three constituencies.

    It would also highlight the dishonesty in Cameron’s Tories of pretending to be “LGBT friendly” while acting against LGBT interests in parliament.

    The Labour party can commit and deliver on equality for LGBT people in marriage, but the Conservative party with its links to religions cannot. This would create a clear difference between the two parties in this crucial area.

    It would also fulfil “A Future Fair For All” ! 🙂

  • Charlie

    @ Gordon Brown: “I KNOW that Labour hasn’t done everything right and I know I’m not perfect…….”.

    Too right!…. AC, did you write this preposterous drivel ?

  • olli issakainen

    David Cameron appears to have a great sense of humour. In a recent webcameron message he said that “we´re winning the argument on the economy and on building a fairer society – so come and join us”.
    Or did I misunderstand him? 52,000 inhabitants of Cameroon speak a language called Eton, so perhaps there is a language barrier there..?

  • Lazy Lay

    Unfortunately there is little Labour can do to revert the situation. People want change now, and after 12 years the Tory ARE a change, even if we do not yet what sort of change they will be (backward or forward?)
    David Cameron is very good in not answering the questions, as he knows that any specific answer is going to devide his own party, and the electors.
    I think Labour shoulod focus not on thiselection, but on the next one… and 5 years of opposituion can only add ammunitions to our guns!

  • Alan Quinn

    Dave’s latest NBI is a blast from the past. He plans to give taxpayers cut price shares in the banks when they’re ready to be returned to the private sector.
    Dave and George know that the vast majority will be sold overnight as people look to make a quick return and that these shares will end up back with the big institutions.

    The privatisations of Thatcher meant at one time 27 million people held shares, that’s down to 10 milion now. Who benefitted? Not the consumer but the tories friends in the City, all those shares were given away and the tories knew where they would end up.
    With the inheritance tax and now this it’s yet more evidence that Dave is looking after his backers.