Will the “politics of envy” really lose votes for Labour?
With several leading Labour figures urging that the party should make David Cameron’s privileged background a key differentiator at the next election there’s been a warning against this strategy by the only Cabinet member not to go to university, Alan Johnson.
According to the Independent the education secretary made a speech yesterday that “will be seen as a warning to Labour not to make personal attacks on David Cameron and other Tory “toffs” central to their next election campaign.”
Johnson is said to be arguing that “someone’s class should neither provide a platinum card into the VIP lounge of life, nor a heavy burden weighing down on their back”.
But is this right – surely an area where Cameron is highly exposed is not that he himself is an Etonian but the fact that he surrounds himself by many who are?
For all that Cameron has sought to present himself as an “ordinary person” the reliance on people with the same social background as his closest advisers is something that those opposed to the party can get their teeth into.
Cameron clearly realises this too – hence the huge sensitivity over that famous picture that we cannot see any more of the the Tory leader when he was a student and a member of the Bullingdon club.
At the very least such an approach by Labour could help keep its core vote on side. It will certainly fire up the activists.
For all the lofty talk about “not going negative” there is little doubt that this should be a key strategy for all the the main parties. You find something bad about your opponents that resonates with target voters and then you go for it.
Clearly Johnson is looking at the issue with his education secretary hat on. In the frenzy of a general election the only thing that matters are things that swing key votes. It may not be very nice but then being out of power for five years is even worse.