Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cameron's conference challenge

Let's start with a revelation that you might have missed in yesterday's coverage of Ed Miliband's conference speech: it wasn't all bad. However, there was enough ill-thought through, reactionary, old-fashioned, old Labour, left-wing clap-trap that the few points of useful analysis of British society he did deliver may have been lost forever.

The conclusion from the media: Red Ed really is red. So in Miliband's failure to communicate the essential rule in modern British politics, that you are on the side of those with aspirations and work hard, David Cameron has at once a great opportunity and a tough challenge.

His opportunity is to reiterate to the British people that he is on their side and is in touch with what matters to them. He needs to communicate directly to them in the way Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher used to when in their respective periods of dominance.

At last year's election Cameron never quite managed to connect in the way he must if a genuine Conservative majority is to be secured next time around. Those who have seem him up close know it is where he is most comfortable but the country hasn't yet seen in him what the party did in 2005. The Labour Party has made some headway - mostly based on the NHS reforms - painting David Cameron as elitist and out-of-touch. The basic truth is that the Prime Minister has a much better grasp of reality than the leader of the opposition and it is Ed Miliband himself who has made this easier to communicate than ever before. 

Now the hard part. Getting the grassroots, backbenchers and party faithful to play ball. Downing Street know what the dangers are: 50p tax, planning, Europe, Lib Dem hating, defence cuts mainly but other issues bubble along and could cause a conference row if the media and malcontents happen to align in Manchester. So what will happen? The media narrative is that Ed Miliband is utterly awful and David Cameron has a big open goal to hammer him and Labour into opposition for a generation. It isn't that simple, and have no doubt that some of the campaigns mentioned above are well-backed financially so have the capabilities to cause a real stink. 

The aim should be to have one of the dullest conferences of a governing party in living memory. Miliband is wounded and his own party can deal with him. This is a real test of whether the Conservative grassroots are with the Prime Minister on issues that matter to the electorate and so are willing to park others, for now. My bet is next week will be more interesting than Downing Street might have hoped.  


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and I will be interested in what you have to say.