The Shadow Cabinet – where’s the beef?

The Shadow Cabinet – where’s the beef?


    Isn’t Blair’s “the Tories are a threat” claim hard to swallow?

With the pollsters showing Tory deficits of between 1-9% and an electoral geography that means that the Labour party will win most seats on a uniform swing even if it’s 5% behind it’s no wonder that the balance of money on the betting markets is on the Tories getting less than 200 seats. For a majority they need 324 MPs.

One of the many problems is that the Shadow Cabinet is largely unknown to the electorate. Gone are the Tory big beasts” such as Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Michael Portillo, John Selwyn Gummer (above in the famous “beef is safe pose” at the time of the BSE crisis) and William Hague. Michael Howard is leading a team that’s barely recognisable beyond the Westminster village.

All this puts even more pressure on the Tory leader who sees large negative personal ratings in almost every opinion poll and the prospect of him personally being the object of a Labour “demonisation” campaign.

So given all of this why is Labour throwing everything at at the Tories and totally ignoring the real threat – the Liberal Democrats? The statategy of making the Tories the bogey-men lacks plausibility because hardly anybody believes that Howard’s can be returned.

    The alternative in the Labour slogan – Britain Forward not back – is not Michael Howard but a Labour party with a reduced representation at Westminster that might have to treat with others to stay in power.

For campaigns to be effective they have to be believable and the threat of a return to Toryland has no credibility. Alan Milburn and his team need to work out how to stop Lib Dem leaning Labour supporters from defecting. Attacking a Tory threat that most people think does not exist will not do that.

© Mike Smithson 2005

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