15 April 2010

Election 2010: The defining moment

Steve Richards, who has not been an advocate for the leaders’ debates, argues “that the most significant event of the campaign has already taken place”

The launch of the Conservative manifesto earlier this week and the document itself was extraordinary, one that breaks the mould of such events in ways the media has understated. In its counter-intuitive, thought provoking and stand-out distinctiveness the launch reminded me of Labour's equally extraordinary shadow Budget, presented during the 1992 election campaign, another moment that came to be seen as pivotal.

I suspect when the post-election reviews are held it will be seen one way or the other as the key moment. Strategists from all the parties will look back and conclude either that this was when David Cameron sealed the deal or when he blew it.

Up to a point, Lord Copper.  Richards is right about the 1992 campaign. The shadow Budget, that Brown was partly responsible for, did seal the deal for John Major.  But time has moved on.

The voters have not been engaged by the manifestos, the policies or the campaign so far.  The first debate will be the defining moment and alter the direction of this campaign.  The character of our leaders and their ability to communicate through the medium of television are the all important factors these days.

The debate about Gordon Brown’s leadership, and the doubts that the electorate have about making the decisive shift to David Cameron proves the case.

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  1. The YouGov tracker showed the Tories back in the 40's after their manifesto launch, so it certainly had an effect.

    The Tories job is to keep the media focused on their positive message. Labours job is to move it back onto more fertile ground which is why they are back onto the economy.

    I think the polls over the next few days will depend on which of team does a better job.

  2. NonnyMouse - the reason I haven't posted on headline polls is there is little point until they settle down. Sunday will be the first time will get a true indication of how things stand.

  3. I totally agree about the polls. I'm just trying to work out the strategies for the two parties.

    I think Labour were expecting the Tories to focus on their economic record, so all their planning was to counter that.

    The Tories have actually come out fighting on a positive message. Labour dont have a counter for it. Labour dont have anything else to sell, just a random collection of unrelated policies, so can't take control of the narrative.

    It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the debates.

    Note: I'm ignoring the LibDems because they are flip flopping and trying to be everything to everybody, and I think the media are doing a great job of point this out.

  4. NonnyMouse - The issue, and I posted on this yesterday, is the message is not getting through. The public are not engaged yet.

    My guess is that if the debate tonight doesn't move the agenda on, then the following two will not either.

    It will take something else to do this. I blog about this over the weekend.