Don’t write off Labour’s “Toff” attacks?

Don’t write off Labour’s “Toff” attacks?


    This could be a good strategy to get the vote out?

Labour’s core strategy in Crewe and Nantwich to portray their main opponent as a “Tory Toff” has attracted a lot of criticism and has even proved a bit too rich for some contributors to LabourHome.

The sight, as above, of Labour activists seeking to follow the Tory candidate dressed up as “Toffs” and the emphasis on his background in campaign leaflets has been the principle theme of the party’s by election defence.

It easy to write this off but this has become almost standard by election fare when Labour has been threatened with losing a seat. The strategy, first seen at Birmingham Hodge Hill in 2004, is to find what appears to be a weakness in the party’s main opponent and then going hell for leather to repeat this on every occasion. It’s not pretty but it worked in that by election as well as at Hartlepool a few months later.

In the former Labour was able to exploit the fact the Lib Dem candidate’s day job was in the community relations aspects of the location of mobile phone masts. In the latter the party made their central theme unwise and patronising comments that the Lib Dem candidate made in her blog about some of the people of Hartlepool.

The “Toff” attack does not quite have the same potency as these earlier campaigns. Labour needs something firmer and more specific about the Tory candidate and that might come in the remaining eight days.

It’s important to understand that all this is not designed to switch votes but simply to provide a message that motivates Labour activists and voters to make sure they turn out on May 22nd. The main danger is if the approach fails to resonate with your own supporters but has the effect of motivating the opposition.

For me the big development today should be the publication of the full data from ICM’s C&N poll that came out at the weekend. This should give us a clearer idea of the cross-party dynamics and help to explain even further the disparity between the general election voting intention in the constituency and the by election. The former figures had the Tories 16% ahead while in the latter it was just 4%.

Mike Smithson

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