Buckle-up your belts….this is going to be a bumpy ride
Gordon Brown is widely expected to go to the country this week and when/if he does he will fire the starting gun on the closest election campaign at least since 1992 but arguably since the 1970’s. After a consistent the pattern showing Labour closing the poll gap this week has shown a reversal of the trend; with the Conservative advantage widening. George Osborne and the pledge to reverse the National Insurance rise are widely credited with this reversal of fortunes; this is true I think but not necessarily for the reasons Conservative’s think. They think they are onto the winner with the policy but I think in this election the key will be the magic ‘m’ word – momentum as much as policies.
People are genuinely unsure what to think and feel on issues like the economy and therefore they will go with confidence and solidity as much as the actual content of what is being said. In the cuts debate the Conservatives lost out because just as many economists publically opposed them as backed them and this time there was no confident counterblast by Labour or it’s supporters. My view is that the momentum actually shifted the week before as the Labour leadership looked distinctly unprincipled (and therefore weak) over its attitude towards the unions – had they been firm and principled people would have responded better than their fears would have allowed them to imagine.
Labour’s strongest negative card is not summoning images of the 80’s but in the widespread perception that the Conservatives are not representative of the wide spectrum of public opinion and interest. When they are polled people consistently say they feel this is the case; however, the interests that people feel the Conservatives represent are business ones and, in the case of Chris Grayling, backward bigotry. Of course, this must be balanced with a positive image but the suggestion that the Conservatives are in favour of the few over the many is a strong card that Labour should be playing.