After all the fuss about the alleged anti-semitic tone of Labour’s election advertising the party has now launched its main slogan for the coming election – “Britain – forward not back”
And if you think that you’ve heard this line before you have – from Michael Howard!
As Curtis, one of our eagle-eyed users has spotted, the phrase “…forward not back” was the same slogan used by the Tory leader when he announced his candiditure in October 2003.
At the Labour launch all the rhetoric was focussed at the Tories – the Lib Dems were just dismissed as an irrelevance. Given that the current voting and poll dynamics show that the Tory vote is static – but is not moving backwards either – is this the right approach?
Labour seems to have decided that the 2005 General Election should be run on the same basis as 1997 and 2001 – demonise the Tories but ignore the Lib Dems.
It’s worked before so why should it not work again? One problem is that this approach loses its effectiveness over time. Today’s 18 year-olds coming onto the electoral roll for the first time were just three years old when Margaret Thatcher made her dramatic departure from Downing Street in 1990.
Another problems might be that the Tories are seen as such a spent force that a campaign that tries to build them up lacks the one ingredient of all effective rhetoric – plausiblity. If the polls together with the uniform national swing calculators show Labour with big projected majorities then putting all the focus on Michael Howard’s party seems risky.
The Tory leader can only be made out to be a bogeyman if he appears to have a chance of victory.
The way that Labour can lose power is if significant numbers of the party’s 2001 supporters vote Lib Dem because of their concerns about the Iraq war, student fees, and immigration policies designed to match what the Tories are proposing. Building up the Howard threat does not seem to deal with this reality.
For Labour campaign head, Alan Milburn, the stakes could not be higher because of the way Tony Blair brought him in against the will of Gordon Brown. As we saw with the Fagin poster row there are many supporters of the Chancellor who are ready to pounce on any mistake that Milburn makes. Maybe Michael Howard’s prior use of the slogan will add to their ammunition.
TIP. Before using any phrase use Google to check it out.
IG Index spread prices: LAB 353-360 : CON 191-198 : LDs 70-74
Copyright 2005 Mike Smithson