10 April 2010

Memo to Mandelson: Saturday 10th April

Dear Peter,

Let’s be frank.  Labour have lost the first week and are failing to set the agenda.

Take yesterday.  The Stuart MacLennan Twitter affair was not handled well.  Brown is sent round the country to meet little groups of Labour supporters that is reminder of how Labour approached the 1983 campaign.  Then, in the evening, he makes a speech where little was said that we haven't heard already.  It will take more than rehashed announcements for the crowd to start cheering.

Alistair Darling’s lunchtime interview with Osborne was pitiful to watch.  He gave the impression of not wanting to be there.  Before that little encounter, we get: “They might have got their political tactics right for the first day”.  It would been more accurate if he had said: ‘the whole week’.

Each evening the Tories are setting the agenda for the following day.  Last night they do it again with the news of a tax break for married couples, which is all over the newspapers.  Labour’s leak to Newsnight on ‘Cadbury's law’ hardily gets a mention.  What’s more, there wasn't a Labour spokesman on the programme to push the message home.

The troops on the ground need a message they can sell to the voters.  Where is the ‘big idea’?  Where are the sweets to keep the voters happy until election day?  How is the question: “What are you going to do for me?” going to be answered on the doorstep.  The Tories have now provided two and, to boot, hit the bankers.

Why is it that Vince Cable is getting a free ride in the papers attacking the businessman who backed the Tories?

You need to urgently rethink the media operation.  Is Alastair Campbell fully engaged?  The Miliband brothers and Alan Johnson need to given a much higher media profile.

At present, the momentum is with the Tories and their poll lead is firming up.  Next week, with the launch of the manifesto and the first TV debate, is critical.  By all means play the VAT card, but there also has to be a ‘big idea’ that will set the agenda.

To date, there is very little that will enthuse the voters and Brown has nothing new to say on Thursday night.

The Tories are now open a counter-attack, which can’t come soon enough.  You rightly described Labour as the “underdog”, which is not a role that the party is comfortable with.  However, to regain the initiative you have to start behaving like one and not as a Government that has little to say.

It’s time to start taking the gloves off.

As Cameron has said: “We can’t go on like this”.

Best wishes

Events Dear Boy, Events

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  1. Today you said Brown's Thursday night speech was "a speech where little was said that we haven't heard already..no more than rehashed announcements"

    Yesterday you said it was "a good speech, without notes, with much humour too. This is good news and hopefully these events will get wider media courage during the campaign. "


  2. Anonymous - Indeed. And this morning was no better, either. I will return to this on Sunday.

  3. bonkers [ˈbɒŋkəz]

    Slang chiefly Brit mad; crazy

    [C20 (originally in the sense: slightly drunk, tipsy): of unknown origin]


    It must be tough to support a guy you know is 'psychologically flawed'.

    Bonkers has been immortalised in the Gold market for selling "our Gold" at the bottom of the market, now famously called the 'Brown bottom'.

    The irony cannot be wiped away :-)