Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Tories to 'laser beam on real economy'

. Conservative Home has got it's hands on a briefing note from a top Tory strategist. In handwriting that actually makes me semi-confident I am not the worst handwriter in the world; it says that the Conservatives expect their poll lead to sink to single digits but that this won't last and that Cameron and his crew will get 'back in the game' with a "laser beam focus on the 'real economy'".

Ignoring the cringe-worthy language it seems to me that this poses further dangers for us in the polls. It is my view that we are being seriously squeezed at the moment due to a combination of factors. Hitherto we have seemed to be losing to Labour in it's heartland areas so we can ill afford to start losing to the Tories too.

This morning's news that inflation has soared to 5.2% shows that the 'real economy' of peoples pockets is likely to become the substantive issue. In this context a focus on our program of tax cuts seems sensible. However, I think it is a relevant question as to why this is not resonating with voters and we are in what Con Home calls a 'poll slide'. I don't think we handled the banking crisis particularly well, maybe partially because we started with a 'real economy' focus from the off but it now looks like we are set to be challenged on that turf.


wit and wisdom said...

I think your concerns are unnecessary. The Tories have been completely out of the loop in this current crisis. George Osborne has been invisible and Dave is seriously limited on the level of detail he gets into.

COntrast this with the detaield response of Vince, Nickers and Chris Huhne, to name but three. Combine that with a brilliant headline - tax cuts for those 'hard working families' we hear so much about and you've got a very strong attack lined up.

We can challenge the Tories head on if we stick to our guns and stop worrying about them. We simply need to leave the Tories to dig their own hole, which they are very successfully doing on this issue.

Darrell G said...


The Tories really don't need to be visible because they are the main party of opposition and this is what is being said in that memo.

I agree our response has been detailed but at times has emphasised the wrong details as I have said previously. My concerns are based upon a very real dip in the polls. We need to be careful with the 'tax cut message' as I have said before.

I don't think they are digging a hole particularly - what we are seeing in Labour's poll revival is that it is not an issue core Labour voters trust them on and thats natural because of their disposition.

wit and wisdom said...

The Tories have a natural advantage as the obvious alternative choice, that's true but what they don't have is any substance.

That's why this is a golden opportunity for them to destroy their poll lead themselves without any external input.

I still think we are headed for a huing parliament, not a Tory landslide AND I remain perhaps stupidly optimistic that we stand to gain seats because of the local focuis of all our campaigns. That remains the key to our electoral success and no amount of grand speechifying from Dave can change that without real ideas which affect voters in Walton on the Naze or Grimsby.

Darrell G said...

I can remember the same charges being levelled against Blair in 97. The nature of oppositions is that they don't need much substance and to be honest too much substance can be a bad thing in and of itself...

I hope you are right about the hung parliament. It may well be that you are if Brown does go to the country early next year. Local focus yes but we need the national narrative to pull it all together...we also need that to create the campaigning infrastructure in terms of membership that we need.

John said...

We need to be like Genghis Khan's - self-belief in our message and get out there with it in the places we're targetting.

Banking reform will be the most important issue coming up as it will determine the parties attitudes to personal indebtedness.

If there's one thing to come out of the US election it's this - the next President Barack Obama stated in a campaign rally that some of those people that were foreclosed on had only themselves to blame (he said it a lot more articulately and sensitively than me!).

When the US starts to use banking reforms as a way to `protect people from themselves` then we know that the party that can match that personal responsibility message will reap some dividends.

We need to be on to this before the others.

Darrell G said...


I think you have a point about self-belife in the message and that banking reform is going to be a big issue.

What Obama said may all be well and good but to my mind it is down to the banks to provide the tools to people to help manage their finances and I don't think in the dash for profit they do that. So a system of regular, free, consultations should be in place.

wit and wisdom said...

John's comment is the very lid on Pandora's Box. If banks and possibly other organisations start to take more control over people's finances we risk pushing a whole stratum or more of society back into being a lower class than others, with fewer freedoms.

It is important to remember that the financial freedoms over the past 30 years gave a lot of people opportunities they would not have dreamt of and it would be wrong to now try to stop people from seeking to improve their lot.

This is classic capitalism after all: many will thrive but some will crash and burn and they will suffer. But if a far greater number of people are better off in the end then the recent financial freedoms can be said to have been good. As long as a safety net is in place for those who do not succeed society can be said to be (reasonably) fair.

My own example is classic. I could not have dreamt of buying my own home in the 1970s (putting aside the fact that I was under 10 during that decade...) but I now have a wonderful and onerous mortgage to be proud of and the real prospect of leaving my kids a sound financial legacy.

We must be measured in our schadenfreude.

Darrell G said...


You will certainly find no argument for me that it is classic capitalism. Opportunity that has now led to ruin hey...because the equation you make is now reversed. Many are set to suffer and only a few will thrive.

There is nothing wrong with helping people to manage their finances. If this leads to a reduction in spending and profits for some people then so be it; it's a price worth paying.

wit and wisdom said...

I agree that there will be a lot of pain ahead for many people but I genuinely don't think the fundamentals of the economy will alter for most of us - and the number of people included in that word 'most' has increased significantly in recent years.

Darrell G said...

The natural question would then be are those fundemental's correct because it is totally true that progress has been made the more relevant question is when do the fundementals become a barrier to further progress and what to do at that point.