The Conservative attacks on Gordon Brown are entirely justified and justifiable (whereas Labour's personal poster campaign against George Osborne is not)
The Conservative Party's latest anti-Brown advertising campaign attracted much media attention yesterday. For example, Sky News featured this report throughout the day:
Shadow Treasury minister Greg Hands appears there to defend the campaign, but also included in the clip came a note of scepticism from Paul Richards, who appeared to be there as an independent political analyst - which he most certainly is not. A former Labour candidate and special adviser to several Cabinet ministers, I actually appeared head-to-head with him on Sky News yesterday lunchtime to discuss these very posters.
He has written about the ad campaign here for LabourList, claiming, among other things, that political posters are a thing of the past and that negative or personal attacks won't work anyway.
Let me deal firstly with the element of hypocrisy here. Look at Exhibits A (taken from the Labour Party website) and B, from Nick Watt's blog where he noted that "Labour has launched this poster lampooning George Osborne":
What are they if not both posters and negative and personal? Will Paul Richards disown his party for having produced them? Will he advise Labour that producing posters is "a waste of money" and that the above examples amount to "bullying tactics"? I suspect not.
Political campaigns are always going to contain a mix of positive and negative messages and this election will be no different for any of the parties contesting it.
Should the Conservatives attack the Labour Government's record where it has failed? Of course they should. Does the man who was Chancellor for a decade and Prime Minister for the last three years personify that Government? Without a doubt.
It is completely fair and justified for the Conservatives to link Gordon Brown directly with the failures of thirteen years of Labour Government and ask people whether they would therefore trust him with the reins of power for another five years.
I would venture that it is far harder for Labour to justify the above posters attacking George Osborne which are not simply negative but personal - and not linked to policy in any way, shape or form.