Janet Daley of the Telelgraph advocates a new approach for Cameron to take in her article ‘The Tories Must say How They Are Good For You’ HERE. She writes,
He (Cameron) would have to draw attention to the differences between Labour and Conservative philosophy which is precisely what he seems to be avoiding – even though he knows that the electorate now hates Labour and has rumbled the logical flaw in the Brown argument that more money spent always equals improvement.
Mr Cameron will protest that he has presented distinctive policies on some issues, and this is quite true; notably, his determination to do away with the “couple penalty” so that poorer parents are not actually being bribed by the state to live apart, and his proposals for changes to the funding of state schools.
But taken by themselves these are management matters – questions of priorities rather than principles – and they are too technical for most voters to appreciate.
Unless they are subsumed under a larger theme which follows a clear logical path from what-is-wrong-with-Brownism (too much tax and spend) to what-we-want-to-do, the Conservatives will still look to most people as if they stand for nothing very much.
It might be said that it was precisely the negative Saatchi campaign that ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ that won Thatcher’s first term, and that a negative impression of a government can be enough to persuade people to vote them out. Thatcher only stated in very general terms that she thought Britain could be doing so much better under a Conservative government, and didn’t outline a raft of new policy for the electorate to absorb prior to voting. Why should Cameron do so?
Cameron has a powerful seam of anger with Brown and Labour’s economic performance to tap into, as Thatcher did. He could run a negative Big Idea – ‘how low do we want to go?’ – or a positive version of the same thing – ‘ we can do so much better’. Those are the options for a narrative. It’s still a long way until 2010, however and the likely date for a general election.
Cameron would do well to hold his fire, while preparing his message. There is no need to launch any salvoes yet. The recent fits of enthusiasm from Conservative commentators encouraging a launch of new initiatives to capitalise on Brown’s collapse, are sadly premature. Better for now just to keep grinding him down, one grain at a time. Newspaper sales will not benefit but in terms of political strategy, there is absolutely no need for Cameron to take any risks at this point.