08 April 2010

Memo to Lord Mandelson: Thursday 8th April

Dear Peter,

An excellent speech yesterday.  As discussed, the hard part will be selling the message to the voters, which will not be an easy task.

Other matters:

  1. As you would have noticed, Brown is not performing well on the telly.  Interviewers have a duty to play the role of devil’s advocate and ask difficult and awkward questions.  Brown needs to avoid being defensive and he should stop saying, “you are wrong” all the time;
  2. Take a look at the latest YouGov poll, where there is evidence that the Tories have yet convince the voters of their case;
  3. The Tories are exploiting NI non-tax cut to the full because they have little else to say.  Before moving the agenda on you must set out in detail why their figures don’t add up.  It is time to play the VAT card;
  4. It was an error on Brown’s part to use the word “deceived”.  It clouded out anything else he had to say on NIC’s.  Alan Johnson was very effective during an interview yesterday when he said that business leaders “have been misled”.  His communications skills need to used more.
  5. There is now clear evidence that Grayling’s gaffe has not gone down well.  Think up an unrelated wheeze that will force him out of hiding.  Then get Alan Johnson to do the rest.  It will work a treat;
  6. Why is Brown not talking about the latest forecasts that were published by the OECD?  You are in a win-win situation on this point.  Did he forget about this at PMQs?
  7. Cameron is getting an easy ride from the media.  You should use the “wash-up” to put him on the spot.  For example, the Tories have blocked: sex education and a new primary curriculum; voting reform; hereditary peers; and the tax on cider.  All can be used to say the Tories don’t have a consistent policy agenda;
  8. Brown’s encounter with the election’s first heckler was unfortunate, but it happen again.  You need to come up with a strategy for dealing with these incidents.  Brown can’t just walk away from such unscripted moments; and
  9. The Lib Dems need to be kept sweet.  Brown’s good speech on constitutional reform underlines this point.  There is nothing to be gained by you attacking Clegg, not least over his “Del Boy” remark, which didn't go down well.

One other matter you should consider is the frantic pace of the campaign to date.  If the voters react to the continuous media overload they will not be engaged during the critical final stage of the campaign.

Finally, it would good if Gordon wasn't so intense all the time.  He will exhaust himself.  Can Sarah help with this?

Best wishes

Events Dear Boy, Events

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