Is everyone fighting the wrong election campaign?
We are still probably 15-20 months away from the next general election but the long campaign has already started. Rishi Sunak is holding an ‘away day’ for the cabinet this week to brainstorm ideas for the election. Labour’s manifesto preparation has started in earnest. The speeches Sunak and Keir Starmer made earlier this month set out the emerging platforms on which they hope to run.
The campaign that’s emerging is a familiar one with the Tories attempting to replay their greatest hits from victories over the past 13 years and Labour running a largely defensive operation to stop them from doing so. This, though, seems disconnected from the mood of the public, which may explain the historically low levels of enthusiasm for either party. A mere 8% of people currently say they would be “delighted” if the Conservatives won the next election - down from 27% in 2019. Labour fair only a little better on 22%, down slightly from 2019 (though far fewer people would be “dismayed” if they won than when Corbyn was leader).
In this post I will look at how both campaigns are shaping up and why I suspect they are not the right ones for the situation we are in (particularly for the Conservatives). I’ll also look at what the alternative options might be and the associated risks of following them. To help me do this I have new and exclusive polling, courtesy of focaldata, exploring current perceptions of the parties.
The Conservatives Campaign
Since 2005 the Tories have relied to some degree or another on Lynton Crosby or his proteges for their electoral strategy. In 2019 the campaign was run by Isaac Levido who is an Australian disciple of Crosby and also masterminded Scott Morrison’s surprise election win that year. Levido was briefly sidelined by Liz Truss but is now back in charge under Sunak. The Prime Minister’s five pledges announced in his speech to launch the new year were drawn up by Levido and are intended to form the core of the campaign.
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