Tom Wadsworth is a political consultant and campaigns adviser at Fishburn Hedges. He writes in a personal capacity. He argues that Eastleigh shows that the Conservative brand isn’t just broken, it’s non-existent. Hugging bunnies or UKIP won’t solve this, he continues; only a root and branch look at what Conservatives want voters to think and feel when they see a blue rosette will do. Follow Tom on Twitter.
David Cameron won’t be short of advice today. Calls to shift to the right, to the centre, to be more broad and more focussed will flood in, but I have some bad news: there’s no quick fix.
The scariest lesson from Eastleigh for Conservatives is that voters have no idea what they stand for or why they should vote Conservative; and neither by all appearances, do a lot of Conservatives.
Most of the 40,000 or so people in Eastleigh who voted yesterday are like most of the people in the country – they don’t engage in politics on a day to day basis. So once every few years when they come to vote, they have to rely on their overall impressions of the parties – basically the brand.
But branding is about more than colours, logos and PR stunts. Labour didn’t win a crushing majority in 1997 just on the back a few pithy phrases from Tony Blair, some good election literature and catchy song by D:Ream. They won because voters instinctively understood and liked what Labour was offering, and then on the back of this the Party was very disciplined about reinforcing what voters were thinking.