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Only one leader talking policy today amid confused Tory tactics

Posted on 26 April 2010 | 7:04pm

I’m a bit confused about Tory tactics (as opposed to their non-existent or at least ever-changing strategy).

This morning the Tory talk was of a collapsing Labour vote which meant that they could extend their list of target seats long enough to be contemplating something close to the landslide type swing enjoyed by TB in ’97.

So I fully expected then to see David Cameron blitzing a few Tory/Labour marginals to put a bit of campaigning money where their mouths are.

Instead of which he went to fight in a Lib/Tory marginal that two weeks ago the Tories had been confidently briefing was in the bag. Surely some mistake?

Meanwhile back in London, in yet another process-driven event at Tory Central Office, George Osborne was hosting a press conference on the dangers of a hung Parliament, with the screening of another last minute election broadcast cobbled together in place of the one they had been working on for weeks.

It all left a muddled impression of what they are up to. But one thing is for sure – it was another policy free day for Dave and George.

Meanwhile Nick Clegg was doing what he seems to spend all his time doing these days – talking about what he would and would allow after May 6.

Only one leader actually managed to talk about policy, and get some of that into the main BBC bulletin tonight, and that was GB. I watched his speech to the Royal College of Nursing live, and he got a terrific reception for an important and rounded message about the NHS past, present and future. He also managed to get in a clip on the news about nursery provision, and election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander was clipped saying that while Mr Clegg seemed obsessed with his own job (in the future) Labour were obsessed with the jobs of the British people.

This division between Labour talking policy and Clegg/Cameron obsessed with process/PR is a good one for GB. It plays to his strengths. Of the three parties, Labour is the one that has shown the greatest strategic consistency. I remain of the view that will pay dividends as the campaign goes on and the Clegg/Cameron processology, not to mention the arrogance of constantly assuming the result, will irritate and alienate far more than it attracts.

*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour

  • Dan Brusca

    Come on, you know that Clegg *appears* to spend most of his time about the post-election period because that’s all the media ask him about and, as a result, that’s what ends up on the news bulletins.

  • Mark Wright

    The media also provide their own narrative on this.

    All too often they fail to cover the substantive issues and enagage in a real debate. They then conversely report how little debate there is during this campaign!

  • Alan Bell

    Hi Alastair, Why was Gordon Brown voted “Statesman of the Year”, by other world leaders?
    Was it his work on Climate Change?
    Was it his leadership on dealing with the Credit Crunch?
    Whatever the reason it should be brought to the fore in the final week before polling. If it was his economic skills then it should be highlighted on Thursday in the last debate.
    I think many of the voting public know nothing of the esteem our PM is held by other world leaders.

  • Steve Brundish

    The Tories are all over the place but sky were still determined to run with the Conservative dangers of a hung parliament as thier lead story. Hopefully GB will counter this showing that the only danger of weak government comes from the inexperienced team led by David Cameron. One thing Gordon Brown cannot be accused of is weak leadership. He should also make it clear that Labour will only take part in a coalition if there is a clear programme for change and one that will run for the full term of the Parliament(leaving no room for the weakness charge).
    GB should also remind Mr Clegg that Labour will decide on its leader and if he really is serious about the Gordon must go thing then there will be no Labour/lib Dem agreement.

  • Jamie Edwards

    Alastair; Gordon spent the morning launch of his green manifesto lambasting random Tory policies.

    So remind me which leader is talking policies?

  • Bernie Baldwin

    Agree that the Osborne/Hunt press conf was just crass. Osborne accused Clegg of not answering certain questions and blatantly did the same himself.
    Don’t agree on it being arrogant to talk about post 6 May. It’s what the ordinary voter is discussing. It’s kind of arrogant, given the polss for the past 10 days, not to even admit that it’s something that’s not been discussed.
    Meanwhile, excellent session by the PM in Southampton.
    Yours, still undecided.

  • D Mc Guigan

    Have just finished The Blair Years.A bloody good read.You are still an arrogant sod,but a godsend to Blair.Don’t think think he could have done it without you.Spot on about the British media and the Mail in particular-arseholes.Hope you and Fiona got it all resolved. All the best in whatever you are doing.

  • Ben G

    Talking of tactics, please please please tell GB at the next debate to:

    1 – Slow down.
    2 – Explain everything simply, and from first principles.
    3 – Explain why the deficit was necessary to stop us going broke.
    4 – Slow down some more.

  • Graham Jones

    Clearly there is a problem in the marginals for the tories, where the Labour vote is holding up. It’s also clear, that the Lib-dems have made inroads into the tory vote, in the seats Cameron was diverted to.
    Clegg is getting very cocky, considering there is still 10 days to go. He’s also treating the public like like mugs, by assuming the polls will stay the same. He may just end up with a lot of egg on his face.
    Peter Mandleson was right in his assertion that as much as a third of the public haven’t made their minds up, so it’s crucial to appeal to their better judgement right till the last.
    There will be only one clear message still coming through after the last televised debate this week, and that is the only sensible choice is to trust Labour, on their ability to handle the recovery in a way that is fair to everyone.

  • John Michael White

    I find it astonishing that, on the day Gordon Brown chose to spend his day setting out, in detail, his vision of the future of the Health Service (and in the process getting a standing ovation from those who know best what it’s like on the NHS frontline) all the Tories had to offer was an increasingly desperate beg to be given power.

    That’s not to claim that we’re getting no new policy announcements from Cameron this weel. I’m sure that, backed into a corner by Gordon on Thursday, he’ll be agreeing to all kinds of things on the hoof. If the debate was over 90 hour rather than 90 minutes I reckon you could get him to sign up to everything in Labour’s manifesto, disown all of his own, and leave the nasty party he pretends isn’t there behind once and for all.

  • Steven

    It seems to me that this has been one of the better days of the campaign for Labour. Despite the importance of the undecideds, it would be great to see some better movement in the polls. Bad though the Tories are, I can`t see their share of the vote slipping much further (it`s close to the low water marks of the last 15 years) so I reckon most improvement for Labour will have to come at the expense of the Libdems. We can`t let up on the Tories though.

  • Andrew Holden

    Where is George Osborne these days ?
    Anyone seen him ?

    A useful point for Gordon Brown on Thursday – despite Osborne’s (and Cable’s) warnings that Labour was taking on huge losses for the taxpayer through the bank bailouts, as of today we are sitting on a £10B profit from RBS and Lloyds. I really do feel some of those who profess to ‘hate’ Brown should really pause for a moment and wonder just what life would be like right now if we had been listening to Osborne and Cameron back in 2008.

    CanGordon ask David on Thursday to confirm if Osborne will be Chancellor if the Tories win ?
    If the answer is ‘yes’ – that should knock a couple of % points from the Tories.

  • David Edge

    Alastair, please tell me that I’m not the only one to be believe that come May 6th Britain will know to do the right thing. I’m holding on to the belief that the polls are as out of touch as they were in 1992 and when it comes to the crunch everyone will know that it mightn’t be cool to talk about voting for GB but its the right thing to do. PS I hope our man is ready for Thursday; Substance V Style (from the not particularly stylish) Round 3!

  • rosie

    I saw George. He’s been making videos about hanging. I think the noose was designed to represent a hung parliament, not for threatening voters who still don’t accept the importance of voting Tory, because of their being born to rule and all.

    Looking at al the leaders on tonight’s news, the following descriptions spring to mind.

    Clegg: furiously back pedalling on his comments yesterday.

    Cameron: panicking, and outraged that he should be heckled. How very dare she!

    Brown: relaxed, natural and happy!!

  • Patrick James

    Cameron has been telling us we’re doomed if there is a hung parliament.

    Clegg has become carried away with his “king maker” roll and is spending a lot of time modelling the outfit.

    Brown must stay on policies that matter to people.

  • Filiz

    Andrew Holden
    Where is George Osborne these days ?
    Anyone seen him ?

    Same reason as we don’t see Blair either, one is not very popular with the voters and the other not popular with grassroots Labour supporters. Blairites have very little support left, the ‘middle classes’ have abandoned NuLabour.

    It is very loyal of the posters here to support GB. I personally want to scream ‘why haven’t you done it these past 13 years’ every time I hear Brown mention policies.