08 September 2009

Darling will give another lesson in ‘how not to do it’.

We start in high hopes.  The comrades have met to decide on a strategy for the autumn fight back.  Steve Richards explains:

Over recent weeks, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Lord Mandelson and Ed Balls have met in various permutations to plan their latest comeback strategy, an exercise that must be starting to acquire a familiar air. They agreed that, first, they had to decide on what form the pivotal pre-Budget report should take and work backwards, so that their political message delivered this month is reinforced and given more shape when Darling unveils his proposals.

Excellent. Straight out of any ‘how to win’ textbook.  Here we have it.  Now after all these months the polls will finally turn around.  Then:

But having established the importance of a consistent and clear message, I get the impression they have not agreed wholly on what the message should be.

Oh dear.  If they still haven't agreed a clear message by now it is too late.  According to Richards, all Darling will deliver today is “haze”:

The preliminary manoeuvring begins today when the Chancellor delivers a lecture on the principles that will guide the Government's approach, in effect arguing that while the Tories "wallow" in the prospect of spending cuts he will take a more expedient approach, in terms of timing, pace, depth and in his view that the Government can still play a creative role as an enabler in the delivery of public services. But even this early message is hazy. Contrary to some authoritative briefings, I am told that the Government has not agreed to include the NHS and international aid as candidates for possible cuts or "savings"

Labour have missed a trick here.  What Darling should be delivering today is a clear and precise message on ‘tax and spend’.  By doing that, Labour would be setting the agenda in the area that will decide the election.  What we will get is fudge as Labour – more precisely Brown – can’t decide on the message.

As the all important “agenda-setting month of September” ticks by here is just more evidence of confusion, hesitation and a lack of confidence on Labour's part on what has to be done during this crucial month.

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