Does Watson’s campaign approach work?
This is Tom Watson – the Labour MP for West Bromwich and campaign manager in Ealing Southall who has a very personal approach to campaigning – he gets personal.
Rather than focus on policy or issues his big idea is to find what’s perceived as a weakness in the character of the opposition candidate he most fears and then attacks and attacks it.
At Birmingham Hodge Hill in July 2004 he sought to destroy the Lib Dem challenger by making Labour single election idea the fact the their opponent worked for a mobile phone company which was then involved in controversial issues over the location of masts.
The problem with such an approach is it involves repeating your opponents name time and time again. It makes clear to those wanting to give a bloody nose to Labour which party you fear, boosts the name recognition of the main opponent you most fear and reinforces opposition supporters in their desire to vote
But does it work? In the very low turnout election at Hodge Hill Labour’s vote dropped by 27.4% and the Lib Dems went up by 26.1%. This is one of the biggest LAB>LD swings on record. True – Labour saved the seat but with such a massive swing against it you could hardly call it a vindication.
If the leaked postal vote tallies from today’s election are in the right ball park then Watson will have failed big time. For if the Tories come second, from third place in 2005, and there’s a significant LAB>CON swing it will be David Cameron who is claiming victory. Will Gordon be saying “Well done Tom”.
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