Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Grown up political discourse

Grown up political discourse

A strategy!  At long last Gordon Brown has thought of a strategy to beat the Tories!  Unfortunately, it’s the ‘Eton toff’ attack.  There’s no question that Brown feels most comfortable with this line – he was pushing Tony Blair to use it against David Cameron from the very beginning.  It is also true (up to a point anyway), which is always a bonus.

Alice Thomson flagged this approach up in this morning’s Times saying that

Class warfare was the tactic that Mr Brown, when he was Chancellor, always wanted Tony Blair to deploy. “It’s as though Gordon has found his favourite old jumper that we thought Sarah had binned, and slipped it on again,” said one Blairite.

Well, it obviously fits comfortably.  In today’s PMQs Brown said that Tory tax policies were dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton, and there was another reference to them being an Eton mess.  A strategy is born.

Is it a terribly good strategy though?  Well there is a bit of evidence on this front – the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.  This was the one where Labour activists dressed up in top hats and tails and trailed around the Tory candidate looking like snotty little twats.  Which, of course, is what they were.  Labour posters and leaflets carried mocked up photographs of Ed Timpson in, sigh, a top hat.  The overall tone of the election was that ‘Tory toffs’ were the enemy.  How did that work out?  Not so well.

Ed Timpson (Conservative): 20539 (49.5%) +16.9
Tamsin Dunwoody (Labour): 12679 (30.6%) -18.2

Maybe it will work better when the entire Labour party’s national strategy is based on a line that ‘Oooh, those Tories are well posh’.  And at least Brown will look a bit more cheerful.  But I don’t think that this is quite the killer argument that Brown (and presumably Alastair Campbell) think it is.

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