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Cameron junks broadcast – is he morphing into John Major?

Posted on 19 April 2010 | 2:04pm

David Cameron has junked tonight’s planned party election broadcast in favour of one that ‘responds to the public mood.’

Now what does that remind me of? Where was I? Oh yes, Southampton, April 16, 1997 … with TB, when news came through that John Major had junked that evening’s planned party election broadcast in favour of one that responded to the public mood.

What do these two events have in common, beyond the obvious link of two not very good Tory leaders? The answer is strategic failure requiring a tactical shift which turns out to be a mistake.

All Cameron’s current problems are rooted in strategic failure. So were Major’s. But to be fair to the Tories’ last (hopefully) Prime Minister, he was dealing with a party that was literally falling to bits, a media kicking him hard, and a powerful and attractive new political phenomenon in TB and New Labour.

David Cameron by contrast has a party longing for victory, a media willing him to win, against a Party that has now been in power for 13 years. Yet despite all that, precisely because he has not sorted his strategy, he is having to junk doubtless well laid plans (these broadcasts don’t happen overnight and don’t come cheap) in favour of what sounds like a rather desperate attempt to do the ‘who I am’ thing. Er. Again.

My guess is that the Tories had done a clunking great negative attack on Labour and GB, but the focus having shifted post TV debate to Nick Clegg, and George Osborne having claimed yesterday that they were going to go more positive, they have been forced to junk it. Needs must.

What it is all going to show is that you can have all the money Lord Ashcroft can give you. But if you don’t have a strategy, and you don’t know how to lead, you’ll get found out soon enough.

Enjoy the broadcast

** Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.

  • Nick

    You say that Sir John Major was “not a very good leader”, yet he achieved a post war record 13.5m votes in the 1992 Election. What does that make his opponent, your mate Neil Kinnock ?

  • Patrick James

    How could anyone not vote for Cameron?

    Look at how lovely he is!

    But believe it or not there are people in the UK who don’t think Cameron is the loveliest any more 🙁

    There are people who think that Clegg is more lovely than Cameron.

    So Cameron is going to tell them that if they vote Clegg they will get Brown.

    It’s what they deserve!

    They won’t be getting the Big Society after all if they get Brown 🙁

    Such a shame when Cameron had it all wrapped up so nicely.

  • Graham Jones

    Let me put this in plain words – CAMERON’S BOTTLE HAS GONE.

  • Ben G

    The imminent Cameron wobble is perfect timing for you lot.

    Here’s what’ll happen: another week of Liberal resurgence, capped by another lacklustre performance by DC on Thursday’s debate will develop and reinforce what will be the ‘story’ of the campaign – that Cameron is (OMG!) a Loser. A bit of deft ash-crisis response from GB, together with positive economic news, will mean that by May 6th Labour will get the most seats.

    But the real story of this election will be, what happens on May 7th?

  • Chris lancashire

    Spinning like a top as usual Alastair. Next you’ll recreate one of your finest hours with a story of how Cameron tucks his shirt into his underpants just like Major.
    British politics really needs you …not.

  • joannie

    The x factorisation of nick clegg is so really depressing for politics in this country generally. Have watched quite a bit, and honestly GB really does have the substance and clarity and authority. Only hope that that will be enough. Cameron has truly been shown up to be shallow, naive, posh, out of real touch and, well, quite clunky with all his ‘my children’ and the NHS stuff. Nick Clegg must be having such a laugh, he will be hardly able to believe his luck. Politics is becoming SO fickle – people like the sense of ‘style’ (combination of a bit of youth and lack of ultra poshness) but have NO idea about lib dem policies. I have asked people why they would vote Lib Dem apart from the leader; they are clueless! Honestly. U guys have got to puncture this. I think that the GB interview with Andy Marr was helpful and the strategy of honesty from GB – yes ok Nick has a bit of style but what actually are elections abt, and what abt the lib dem POLICIES – works quite well. And I also think that the tactic of vote labour and you get the sensible lib dem policies and not the loony ones will also play well.

    good luck

  • Richard Burnell

    And what of your boy, GB? Third place in the election, and stay as PM, in concert with his new mate Nick? Watch the markets tumble and get the IMF in. Still, as Labour has always said, power at any price. Unprincipled? No, the new love of parliamentary reform was always the job for the fourth term, wasn’t it?

    The ” New Labour Middle Class Blair Plus Party” will soon have lost all it’s traditional support and credence, and you can put away your envious, malicious champagne socialism and look for a real job.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    All the spinning in the world will not deflect from the likelihood that Labour are now the 3rd party in British politics. Why would anyone vote Labour? You cobbled together a manifesto lacking ideas or ideals and have failed the basic honesty tests. Your party is now on 25% in the polls. Why are you happy – did you never really care about Labour?

    I am fascinated by the media hype on this. 9 million people viewed the debate – where are the other 30 million voters? They still don’t care. Have given up. A plague on all your houses is the most popular view (and that includes the Libdems).

    Oh by the way – John Major was the most popularly elected PM in British History. Blair couldn’t even come within a million of him in 97 – let alone 01 and 05. The Blair/Campbell effect has destroyed our faith in politics. It has been the greatest age of irresponsibility – but hey you don’t care – you will never have to clean up the mess. But mark my words – people will remember Brown’s debt for generations. Enjoy the next 2 weeks – they are the last time we will see a Labour government in my lifetime.

  • Donald Nutt

    I watched this and you know, Cameron’s right! I am looking for anything different or new. I am that simple minded. I am that stupid.

    Oh, and I wonder if the gallows in his back garden is plan B for May 7th. Let’s hope so.

  • Stan Rosenthal

    Be careful about rubbishing the Clegg surge, Alastair. The electorate are going through a teen-age phase where the more you slag something off the more they will go for it.

    Better to emphasise that this is no time for novices to be in charge, whether Lib-Dem or Tory.

  • John Clough

    Major winning 13.5 million votes in 1992 wasn’t any kind of “post war record” in terms of votes gained by one party. For example, hat about the 13.9 million votes gained by Labour in 1951 (who still lost) or the 13.7 million votes for the Tories in 1955? Get your fact straight Nick please.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    John Clough – you seem to have adopted a Gordon Brown approach to statistics!!!

    Clem Attlee got 11.9 million votes in 1945. John Major got 14.09 million in 1992. John Major is the most popularly elected PM in British history.

    The media bias against him was and is truly incredible. Yet he is the man most responsible for breaking high inflation in the UK. Gordon Brown on the other hand…….