Blair and the ‘Labservatives’….
Apparently, one of the bedrocks of Labour’s last three electoral successes has been its grasp of strategy and feel for attracting the ‘swing voter’. It’s this mythical and misty-eyed version of the past that has led Labour strategists to bring back Tony Blair into the fray. His ‘Midas Touch’ is allegedly what is needed right now;
David Hill, former Labour communications director, told the BBC he believed Mr Blair would be an asset because he would appeal to key marginal voters who voted for him in 1997, 2001 and 2005.
“He has a special appeal to those people and he will be of immense value on the trail if for no other reason,” he said.
In 2005, 36% of those eligible to vote elected a Labour government (which is a shaky mandate in itself let alone a justification for the current strategy). Blair, tainted by association with the Iraq War, was forced out of office prematurely and was deeply unpopular – all of this seems to have escaped Labour strategists who, frankly, have lost alot of their own Midas Touch when it comes to these things.
I am not surprised Fraser Nelson, writing for The Spectator’s Coffee House feels that:
Blair’s return will be worth a good 2-3 points to the Tory lead.
I hope he is not proved right but feel he may well be; talking of things past this is what immediately sprang to mind when I read about the Liberal Democrats ‘Labservative’ campaign which is a masterful exposition of how to say the same thing you have said every other previous election in a slightly different (though admittedly more visually engaging) way. It makes sense to some degree for a third party to chuck this into the mix but the flip side is the widespread perception that the Liberal Democrats are effectively a satellite of the two main parties who pose different ways in different places. Also, it reminds people that in actual fact you haven’t been in government for 65 years which kind-of undermines the argument your a credible one now. I have to say it’s deeply patronising to the electorate at the end of the day to say they can’t appreciate the differences that do exist between the two main parties and will only backfire if you end-up entering coalition with one of them.
Bringing Blair back is wrong because it reminds people that Labour has been in government for 13 years and frankly, it’s only the likes of David Hill, who mistakenly feel that Blair has any kind of mass appeal anymore. A parties past can be an asset but only when presented the right way which is why ‘Fighters and Believers’ was on the right track and Blair’s speech today was on the wrong one.