Since David Cameron became Conservative Leader, Labour have tried a range of critiques, none of which have really worked with the electorate. From 'hard right secret Thatcherite' to 'Insubstantial' to 'Eton toff', the attacks have failed to detonate. So the latest tactic has been to call Mr Cameron 'a Shallow Salesman' or a 'Slick Salesman' or a 'Used Car Salesman'. But this could come to be a huge tactical mistake by the Labour Party.
Far from wounding Mr Cameron, Mr Brown instead insults hundreds of thousands of people across the country – if not millions - who earn their living by being precisely that – Salesmen. By implication, he also criticises not just the Salesmen but also their families and close friends. After all, if being a Salesman is 'dishonest', then being associated with a 'Salesman' is dishonest also. So the many many people who sell cars, windows, heating systems, health products etc. etc. are according to the Prime Minister, either 'shallow', 'slick', 'used' or 'dishonest'. This was brought home to me when I visited a car garage recently in Harlow to get my car fixed. The car salesmen there have always done their best to help me and are highly honest and hard working. They told me that they didn't take kindly to be described as 'a used car salesman' and had become quite anti-Labour.
The truth is that most salesmen work very long hours, often work on low basic or commission only and have to travel far distances in order to make a living. Many years ago I worked in telesales, and I was struck how many people were doing it as a second job in the evenings in order to provide extra support for their families or had suffered some kind of financial hardship. Far from being used as a political insult in which Mr Brown can attack the Prime Minister, salesmen should instead be celebrated for their hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and for providing services that many people could not do without. Mr Cameron should wear the salesmen badge with pride.