With their lead in the latest opinion polls down to just 5% according to one poll, there is clearly a bit of a wobble at Conservative HQ. Right-wing website ConservativeHome has helpfully printed a ten point plan to put the Tory election campaign back on track. Here’s an alternative take on it …
1. Don’t panic
The Corporal Jones approach. Perhaps not the best way to encourage the Conservative grassroots to stay focussed. As all psychologists will tell you, if you tell people not to panic, the one word they remember is – Panic. What the Tories ought to be running is more of the Private Fraser approach – ‘We’re all doomed’.
2. Clarify the economic message
Having an economic message would be a start. Apart from tax cuts for dead millionaires, the only thing to have come out of George Osbornes lips has been that ‘something must be done’ about bankers’ bonuses. Just what that ‘something’ is, he didn’t make clear.
3. Raise the danger of a hung parliament
The Conservative grassroots think that this is a terrible prospect, but ordinary voters think the opposite. At the last General Election the Lib Dems had a poster showing how people would vote if they thought the Lib Dems could win locally. If the Conservatives want to tell voters that the Lib Dems are likely to have huge influence after the election then this can only do good for Lib Dem chances.
4. Deploy the party’s VERY SENSIBLE immigration policies
Yep, a plea from the Conservative Grassroots to raise the very issue that did them so much damage last time. It’s interesting that the accompanying logo shows this as being the only tool left in the Tory policy box. Desperation time.
5. Stop announcing new polices and focus on the best ones we already have
Most commentators agree that the Conservatives have so far spelled out next to no policies and now they are being asked not to say anything more. Whilst Nick Clegg has chosen to focus on four key themes, he knows that the Lib Dems have a whole arsenal of policies to back him up. The Tories are being urged to stick with what they have – most of which are either out of date, nicked from the Lib Dems or utterly meaningless.
6. Hague is a golden asset who should play a leading campaign role …
… because this worked so well for them in 2001. It comes to something if the Tories are having to resurrect former Leaders who failed them in previous elections.
7. Remind voters of Labour failures on a daily basis.
We can all agree that Labour has failed. But if the Tories really want to form the next Government, surely they should be putting forward a positive agenda?
8. Put someone in 100% charge of campaign co-ordination
This is a revelation. If the well informed section of the Conservative grassroots don’t know who is in charge of the General Election campaign then the Party really is in trouble.
9. Cameron should be the straight talk candidate
What this means, I’m not sure. I think it’s a plea for him to make speeches without notes. But how a Party Leader winging it in a campaign will fare, I hate to think.
10. The election is a choice between decline and recovery …
… between meaningless simplification and baseless soundbite.
* Alex Folkes blogs at A Lanson Boy.