What’ll they do now the EU issue has been neutralised?
I wonder whether when the experts analyse the 2010 election that the events of this week will be seen as the point when Labour finally ran out of steam. For in spite of all the challenges Brown’s party faced they could still hope that the Tory wounds over Europe would open up again when the Lisbon treaty was finally ratified.
They’d seen at first hand how the Tory split had been a key driver in Labour’s return to power in 1997 and they had had watched how any possible Tory recovery in 2001 and to an extent in 2005 had been undermined by the continuing EU divisions. How else could they explain IDS’s leadership victory in 2001 or why in 2005 that David Cameron had felt he had to make his promise over the EPP in order to secure the leadership?
It’s not over yet, of course, but the sustained barrages that we’ve seen from Labour since the Irish YES five weeks ago have failed to change the narrative. Even Cameron’s abandonment of the “cast-iron guarantee” on a referendum doesn’t seem to have any potency and judging by this morning’s papers the issue looks as though it could be quickly forgotten.
So where does Labour go from here? Is there a magic bullet that can still be used to impede what increasingly looks inevitable – the return of a Tory government.
A potential line of Labour attack is featured on the party’s homepage. Rather than go for Cameron the emphasis is now on attacking Osborne. The problem with the repeated “Wrong on…” rhetoric against the shadow chancellor is that it only has potency if it chimes with the public mood.
The polling suggests otherwise. The pair of Cameron/Osborne now lead by a substantial margin whenever YouGov asks “Who would you trust more to raise you and your family’s standard of living?” – them or Brown/Darling.
My guess is that, increasingly, the Labour campaign aim will be to get its core vote out with the key central ground being all but abandoned. So messages like “Tory toffs” or authoritarian policies on drugs will be the order of the day.