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Will a numbers war work again next time?

January 30th, 2008


    Will Labour be able to use the approach of this 2005 election broadcast?

Click on the link above and see how Labour used one of its final election TV slots in the days before the last general election. It’s effective and follows a well-established tested formula that helped underpin the 1997, 2001 and 2005 victories.

    Looking at it through today eyes, though, it appears outdated. Will this work again? How long will the demonisation of the Tories in this form continue to be a vote-winning strategy?

Judging by the continued references to David Cameron’s alleged role on Black Wednesday in 1992 and the way that Gord deals with almost any situation by quoting a barrage of numbers it looks as though the 2010 campaign will be the 2005 one with up to date numbers.

The problem is that for large sections of the electorate in two years time a Tory government will not be part of their memories. They were just too young and there must come a point where this type of election rhetoric doesn’t resonate any more.

On top of this, of course, a key part of the Osborne-Cameron strategy has been to designed to ensure that this sort of Labour attack will not have the potency it once had. There also a much greater mistrust, in the media at least, of government statistics. Thus when ministers assert that crime is down this is not widely believed.

It seems to me that Labour needs to develop a new rhetoric for a new situation. So far, at least, we have seen little from the new PM.

Mike Smithson






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