Wednesday, May 06, 2009

‘Nice guy, shame about the policies’

...being my sloganising execution of the Mike Smithson/Alan Johnson anti-Tory strategy: acknowledge David Cameron’s personal appeal “but raise the spectre of what in the party is behind him”.

Could it work at all? Maybe.

The genius of my slogan (even if I do say so myself) is that the ‘shame’ is unspecified – it could mean any doubts the individual voter has about what the Tories might do in power. Still too socially reactionary? Too keen on cuts? Too pie-in-the-sky? Too non-existent? Shame.

In this respect it’s a bit like ‘New Labour, new danger’, which could equally well allude to any number of supposed dangers. And that particular slogan worked out, er, um... not too well. But it was too overtly, ferociously hostile and went against the public grain. ‘Nice guy, shame about the policies’ meets the swing voters halfway.

(One other point: in light of the Damian McBride smear emails, it could be risky for Gordon Brown to run a poster campaign against Cameron using the words ‘nice’ and ‘shame’.)


Liam Murray said...

Punters don't care for policies in any serious way - never have done. Labour countered that 'New Labour / New Danger' line in '97 with a pledge card with 5 sentences on it - arguably those were policy pledges but that's a stretch for what was just a clever gimmick.

Even when people claim to be interested in policy it's often an affectation to make them sound sophisticated and above the fray - only real political nerds read & study the detail.

Considering a post for later on what Labour strategy would genuinely scare the Tories most....

CS Clark said...

I'd be amused - if only by attempts to simulate outrage in response - to see the ads without even the explicit 'shame about the policies and his mates' bit and a little, just a little, hint of sarcasm in the compliment. A huge blow-up of Cameron's face and the line 'Hasn't he got a nice smile?', for example, since smiles as so important in a PM. Possibly juxtaposed with text-heavy policy wonk ads, but still with no obvious link.

I suppose they wouldn't make a blind bit of difference, but at this point a little amusement is all I can reasonably hope for.