Thursday 29 March 2012

Cameron & Osborne need to show they are not out of touch

For the months running up to last week's Budget, Labour had been deploying a hackneyed argument that the government - but particularly the Conservative part of the coalition - were "out of touch". I'd imagine it was based on some polling but, based on what I've heard about Labour's organisation under Ed Miliband, you can never be too sure.

Certainly when I was at Conservative HQ and saw any internal polling there was a belief in the eyes of voters that David Cameron and George Osborne weren't average blokes who you might bump into down the pub. The key thing was, this didn't matter as they were seen to be closer than Labour on the actual issues which matter to voters when they cast their votes.

Somehow, through a series of events and announcements that the government should have controlled better, Ed Miliband has been provided with ample evidence that the Prime Minister and Chancellor are out of touch. As the media have portrayed them: 'grannytax', 'pastygate', 'petrolmadness' as well as a poorly considered photo opportunity of David Cameron playing badminton in the Downing Street garden have seen Labour take a 10 point lead in the latest polls.

We are at a point where team Cameron/Osborne are building their own case for being out of touch and Ed Miliband doesn't need to visit another Greggs again. The media narrative is building considerable momentum which Downing Street needs to turn around and quickly. They need to start highlighting areas where the government has made a real, tangible difference to people's lives so they are seen as being, in the language of polling questions, "on my side" not "out of touch".

No one who saw Ed Miliband visit Greggs yesterday believed he'd ever been near one before. This doesn't matter as, if voters start to see that Labour are closer to them on the issues that matter, they may be willing to give them a chance.     

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