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This should not be a platform to moan and groan about Gordon Brown or to preach doom and gloom about the future with Labour. Both approaches put off the public. It should be upbeat and stress that change is possible and desirable and that the Conservatives are the means to bring this about.

The vast majority of material on this site is about the Conservative Party, Ben, but I don't want the site to be wholly introspective. Thinking about how we take on our political opponents is, I think, a worthwhile concern for Tory members. You're right, of course, to suggest that we must get the mood/ tenor of our criticisms right.

Cameron's job this week will be to respond to the Budget so he needs to highlight the weaknesses, needs to make the points.

Then he can go back to his job which is looking forward, delivering the optimistic views.

Behind him we need Osborne, Hague, Davis taking the baton and running a strong anti-Brown campaign. There is a chance, small but there, that Blair goes in summer, Brown takes over and announces an early election. This could be autumn before the redistributed serats come in (so meaning the Boundary Commission changes don't kick in until 2010 or so) or in Spring next year.

But we need to be ready - I'm concerned about our candidates not yet being in place, I'm concerned about our Policy Groups not yet reporting. Hope Mr Hilton is earning his money by getting something in place now.

How to prepare for a snap election?

The LibDems might well turn it into a vote on ID cards, which could be very popular in a small way, but clearly the Tories should avoid single issues, as they may fall flat and not be considered important enough by the electorate to want a change of government.

imho, it would be a disaster to construct an anti-Brown strategy for a snap election, as the public, in late 2006/early 2007 may be sympathetic to him in his honeymoon period as leader.

Given the huge amount of statistics that Blair resorts to at PMQ every week, we need to be able to respond with similar figures to show what a nonsense this Government are. Otherwise, it looks as if NuLab have the figures to prove what a good job they are doing. And going by the poll in yesterday's Telegraph, it looks as if people are falling for it.

In addition to the valid points mentioned in the article, we could also mention that they have increased income tax revenue by 109%.

Where does that figure come from TimC?

Snap election or not. We need to attack Labour's record on the economy, hence attack Gordon Brown. Until we deal with this central issue, we wont be able to deliver enough swing voters to take enough swing seats.

If we keep up a continuous political assualt on Brown, labelling him a roadblock to reform who has destroyed UK competitiveness, squandered the golden legacy and increased the scope of the state, hopefully his image will be tarnished before he becomes PM, effectively curtailing any sort of honeymoon period.

Economic Competitiveness -
This on the day that Lambo spotted an article in the FT 'Tories back pension demand on employers'. There is more and more cross party agreement so what's the point of changing anymore. The truth is there is no red tape or regulations that can be removed now they are in place and to get elected the Tories will accept other vote buying offers even though they make us less competitive. I give up :-(

I want Phillip Hammond to explain how taking nearly an extra £5 billion out of SME's won't hit profits (calculation: just 250,000 businesses employing an average 45 people contributing 3% of the median wage of £15k pa)? Who is going to fill the gap of £1bn that the exchequer will lose from corporation tax?

I wouldn't mind if we could all invest in the fantastic state pension pot, where employees can put in 3% and get 75% final salary out - but after 30 years of 6% (combined E'er's E'ee's contribution) at median wage earnings we estimate an extra pension of approx £3,500 pa. Allowing for inflation and the disparity between living costs between the south and the north will just about cover your roof tax! So we're saving to pay taxes in the future!!

Remember the Labour plan to get Cameron in his first 100 days - initially wrecked by his first PMQs but now in place in terms of Blair-lite, flip-flop, no policies just a pretty face etc.

Well we need to get in early so public aren't sympathetic and he doesn't have a honeymoon. The best hope is that the economic editors are beginning to say he's wasted too much advantage, this will start to appear in op-ed pieces.

People have just got their Council Tax demands and many have just received notice of energy price increases - the feel good of 1997 is gone and its a good time to expose Gordon (just hope we are prepared because he's a good politician in hiding the bad news and sugaring the pill)


It was in the Money section of the Sunday Telegraph on March 19 "British Taxpayers will stump up £145 billion in income tax this year ... This would be an increase of 109 per cent on the £69bn raised in ... the last full tax year before Labour took office."

Editor, could you link this into my two platform pieces on Mr Brown?

Given the possability of a VERY early General Election, we need to get traction on this and quickly. Well done CH for getting this going!

It was based on this report originally I believe.

Thank you, TimC.

I've added the links at the bottom of the post, Oberon.

Its amazing how many people appear to believe statistics that are quoted, or at least half believe them. There is another saying - statistics can be made to say anything! Given the record of this government for truthfulness, why on earth should we believe that the endless catalogue of statistics is also 'truthful'! No, I think it is similar to what I said somewhere before, they are aiming at sections of society who perhaps come under the heading of the 'don't knows', cynical it may but they certainly don't care about that!

Thanks Tim.

Not too sure about snap election if Blair goes because of economic cycle - Brown wouldn't go to polls this autumn as I think budget this week won't be an election springboard. The earliest he'd consider in next Spring after Balls has had a chance to present an election budget.

Gordon must be wondering about this budget - imagine scenerio he planned for was based on an election in 2009 - this budget & next to be fiscally tight (tax here & there, perhaps on oil & banks, a few headline perks), then a few well chosen perks in 2008 and budget 2009 to have usual bribes (council tax etc). Lots of talk of stability & prudence.

Minimum wage going up. Im guessing the Budgets going to be a boring one if this announcement is happening outside of the budget itself.

Agree budget is going to be boring but think it'll hide away a few stealth taxes, as regards minimum wage announcement it's normal Brown - announce tasty snippets around budget targetted at key audiences.

But if he tries to cover an early election scenario he might announce something for next year - that he can re-announce again and again.

My guess for this year's Budget Buzzword is "Challenge", possibly "Global". Probably an announcement of extra spending on anti-terrorism measures. Cue lots of statistics about how China and India are a long-term threat (true) because their government does XYZ (unlikely).i.e. only Gordon's footling around with red tape and stealth taxes can save your job from being exported to Bangalore (laughably untrue).

On a mythical BrowniteHome.com they'll be running a series 'When Did You Wake Up To Cameron?' This Budget will map out how Gordon plans to fence Cameron out of the next Election by framing the debate in terms of why Britain needs a serious, slightly odd, experienced statesman (perhaps with a dodgy eye and a habit of leaving his jaw half open) to steer it through the challenges ahead.

PS On the question of reversing the £5 billion tax hit on pension funds - there is a real question of how much good it would do. One impact of the Brown raid has been to accelerate a change in pension provision. There's been a massive retreat from final salary schemes for example. Rather than improving returns on funds already invested it might now be better to return the tax by using it as an incentive for new investments going forward, such as tax relief on pension saving to effectively lever up the amount going in at the start.

Watch out for the use of the word 'investment', when it really means 'down the drain', or the word 'reform and investment', which translates to 'pouring good money after bad'. Also watch out for words like 'support and help' for the old/young/dissadvantaged/cold/skint/miserable - usually because he either put them there or perpetuates their existence there.

Why does anyone think Gordon Brown 'actually' cares about the economy or the people of this country? It's obvious he does not - unless creating such a facade means prolonging his stay in power.

Gordon Brown and his so called "champagne socialist" collegues have no care for the poor or anyone else for that matter (except themselves.) Look at John Prescott - the so called champion of old Labour and the working class... two Jags, huge house, loads of money. A real champion. Yeah right.

We all know the budget speech will be a dull list of soviet style lists with all the magnificent achievements of GB droned on about endlessly. This will be followed by the real budget where all the bad news is buried at appndix 87f sub section 3(g).

DC won't have time to do any effective serious debating that will suddenly make the supports of state inflicted poverty realise they've been conned, so perhaps he could just take the mickey out of GB relentlessly by quoting alternative lists etc. I quite like the idea of DC just reciting a set of random numbers then sitting back down.

Perhaps we could all contribute to a thread on GB jokes that could be used by DC. The great film reviews show there's a lot of comedy talent out there, let's use it!

87f sub section 3(g)
No, that section covers the provision for increased state funding of the Tories and LibDems ;-)

"Business taxes have gone from 10th lowest to 10th highest in the developed world."

Out of how many? If for example there are only 21 nations considered, that is not a very big increase! ;)

"Economic growth last year was 1.8%, below the G7 , OECD and the global average "

Because many of the other G7's have been in recession, and so have further to grow.

Whilst I admit it isn't all down to Brown personally, our economy is in good shape IMHO

Oh and "The saving ratio almost halved from 9.7% 1992-7 to 5.5% today"
isn't that surprising. We were in deep recession in 1992 remember, so people were clearly not going to be keen to spend. A more meaningful comparison would be between the height of the Thatcher boom and now.

Comstock: the fall in the savings ratio is something for which GB should be criticised--one of his first big wheezes was Individual Savings Accounts, which were supposed to dramatically improve the level of saving in the UK

comstock – 117 nations are surveyed in the competitiveness survey.

You are right that things aren't terrible economically at the moment, however its possibly the indicators of where we are going that I think we should consider (otherwise we would be up to our necks in it before reacting). In my two platform pieces on Brown I’ve tried to cover both the areas you mention, would appreciate your opinion of them as I’m always interested in feedback like this as I’m keen to keep the criticisms fair.

things aren't terrible but they are not that great - when Brown became Chancellor there was a lot more optimism. Now there's a grudging acceptance - a sort of "well it could be worse".

If we can convince people that it wouldn't be worse under us (a big ask still) but could conceivably be better then we will gain seats, and maybe even get the chance at governing.

Could it be that despite the high taxes, the wealth illusion created from the steep increase in house prices over the past few years, plus very low interest rates keeps the middle classes roughly (although perhaps begrudgedly) onside?

So in addition to the Labour support of the public sector, it would take a major shock in either area for the Tories to have any chance at all?

A swift increase in interest rates would quickly negate any tax savng gains, and Labour has kept rates low (if just part of the global direction).

Just throwing it into the mix to highlight how people might be feeling "comfortable" enough despite the high taxes.

That about sums it up. If Brown can keep rates low then we face an uphill task getting him out of No. 10. Why would Mr & Mrs Blogg take a chance on us?

The media (led by the BBC) will stage a love-fest for Brown when he takes over - the joy and relief for them of having got rid of Blair will be even greater than the days when Major took over from Thatcher.

As a result, appearing like a Blairite will be - at best - old hat. The media won't let DC spoil the celebrations. This is the moment for which DC needs a really good strategy. He needs to be able to surprise people with an alternative that is distinctive and hard-edged. Given the options he has already closed off, that's going to be difficult.

Taxes have literally never in Britain's history been higher.

But tax cuts are not a priority of the Conservative.

Makes sense!

I have only just read William's comments on Brown made at 11.58. I needed that laugh to lift the spirits!!

buxtehud wrote:

The media (led by the BBC) will stage a love-fest for Brown when he takes over - the joy and relief for them of having got rid of Blair will be even greater than the days when Major took over from Thatcher.

As a result, appearing like a Blairite will be - at best - old hat. The media won't let DC spoil the celebrations. This is the moment for which DC needs a really good strategy. He needs to be able to surprise people with an alternative that is distinctive and hard-edged. Given the options he has already closed off, that's going to be difficult.

Brilliant analysis. This has it just right. The Cameron Project is not going to work. Brown will take over, satisfying the people's desire for change in the government, DC, the ersatz Blair will not be a reasonable alternative, and Brown will therefore then achieve a comfortable majority for Labour's fourth term. The Tories will continue to languish in the wilderness for a long, long time to come.

Rebel, I think you are wrong. Brown will be the very best thing that could happen to the Tories. I would liken his ascension more to Callaghan taking over from Wilson than Major from Lady T.

Major was only elected to anything because of who he wasn't. (Michael Heseltine or Neil Kinnock). He never got elected to anything because of who he WAS.

Brown will get the job because of who he is. Yes, he will enjoy a brief post Bliar honeymoon, but assuming that he doesn't call an election within months of taking over, I'm sure that his poll ratings will plummet. Even one such as I who dislikes Bliar and all that he stands for (well, all he stands for is Bliar, after all) has to concede that he is charismatic and appealing to the voters. Brown is not. he is dour, and Scottish. He is also pretty much incompetant as his handling of the economy has shown. When the chickens come home to roost on the economy, as they soon surely will, he will carry the blame not his successor. (Ed Balls?).

The sooner we can get him in Downing Street the better - a huge opportunity to do so was missed by DC supporting NuLab on their Education Bill.

I do like the first comment that called Brown an idiot. Why can't the Tory party use the English language available instead of using Sir Humphreyisms that no one notices.

Also, I don't understand why the stupendous economic turnaround of the 18 Tory years is not cemented into any economic discussion, particularly relating to the great start it gave Brown.

Yes David, straight talking would win us a lot of respect. Brown is worse than an idiot. In my eyes he is no more than a common thief, with his burglary of Pension Funds that were once the envy of Europe. We should be shouting this.

We should also make more, as you say, of the golden ecomonic legacy that he inherited, and that he has systematically squandered.

Well said all round - great post.

"I do like the first comment that called Brown an idiot. Why can't the Tory party use the English language available instead of using Sir Humphreyisms that no one notices."

Because using playground insults doesn't go down well in the eyes of the voters. What we need is a middle way between insults and meaningless jargon. Now I sound like a Blairite!

The problem seems to me that Labour (and the Lib/Dems) use playground language all the time, I would assume that it may have had an effect at the last three elections!

Prvided you are prepared to stand up the the responding playground language it would work up north (that's where I am) AND inner cities!

If Cameron called Brown an idiot in the house during the budget - boy - would that get round the country and make people start to ponder Brown's work more carefully.

By the way did you know Frank Field, referring to pensions, said in 1997 we were the envy of Europe, now we are the sick man of Europe. I have it in writing.

If Cameron called Brown an idiot in the house during the budget - boy - would that get round the country and make people start to ponder Brown's work more carefully.

Or it might look rather childish - and I don't think that getting slapped down by the Speaker and asked to "withdraw his comment to the Right Honourable gentleman" in the middle of the Budget debate would look terribly clever for the Leader of the Opposition, do you?

That said, I am in favour of plain language in politics generally. I put a 30-second rule on all my literature - in any household, you can walk from the letterbox to the bin in less than that, so there's my initial window!

Depends on the circumstances when you use it and how you keep standing up. Great publicity. I have just seen last weeks local government elections - very bad all of a sudden - and this with all Labour's bad publicity. I suggest "no publicity is bad publicity" is being demonstrated to us.

I'm never a supporter of "no publicity" - I've just checked out the by-election results you mentioned from last week, I'd read the pending list last week but not the results. I hope that these people received a great deal of "publicity" locally, on a local vote, but I an sure it is something we will need to look at there.

Although I would love to win by-elections week-in, week-out, I won't extrapolate from these without knowing any other local facts. The campaign teams in the few seats that showed opposition gains will doubtless dissect their campaigns now, and we can all learn from that. I'm off to help out on a by-election elsewhere in the county next weekend!

And finally, do remember to integrate up over by-election results - last weeek we gained a previously Labour-held seat in my constituency with no opposition whatsoever. Apparently Labour and the LibDems aren't interested in representing local people here now!

"comstock – 117 nations are surveyed in the competitiveness survey"

Forgive my ignorance, but what is actually measured by this survey?

The point is to say things that resonate with that section of the voters who don't have a profound political allegiance - i.e. the floating voter. We're not in the 1970's (thanks to Maggie) so we don't need to take the risk of a big bang, and the electorate wouldn't vote for that unless the roof caved in (which it patently hasn't).

There is no mileage in talking about the abstract damage that Gordon Brown has done if those people don't feel badly off in their personal life - i.e. themselves, friends, neighbours, etc.. It sounds like Chicken Little.

But they are not immune to the wider society. We should have a 2 phase strategy:

1. pitch the things that Brown has done to the vulnerable sections of society, to make them feel ashamed that they would vote narrowly for themselves and condemn others to unemployment and poverty. I'm particularly thinking about youth unemployment, the growing number of economically inactive, bankrupt pension funds.

This would (a) effectively demonstrate that GB and TB have exaggerated the benefits their economic policy has delivered, and (b) undermine confidence in the future for themselves (forced early retirement, low pension) and their families (youth unemployment).

2. once they are prepared to think that perhaps their own situation is not immune to an economic fallout, we can start talking to them about the core issues: How public sector inefficiency (negative productivity) increases the tax burden; How high government spending crowds out investment in new jobs and condemns us to eke out a living in declining industrial sectors; How red tape stops firms expanding and drives entrepreneurs away; And how the dire state of education undermines our long-term economic capability.

But we have to show them that we have a strategy that will fix these issues without creating economic disruption - no-one is going to vote for a recession! Our priorities might be (1) to dismantle red-tape through wholesale repeal of legislation, so firms can expand again; (2) dismantle the Quango's that administer the regulations and thereby reduce the growth in government spending, (3) address the wasted billions in public services, (4) address the uselessness of education providers and the waste caused by LEA's.

Note that there is no talk of cutting anything until we have got the private sector growing again to absorb the jobs. It's a long-term approach, and the benefit of that approach is that it obviously can't be done in a single parliament - i.e. the voters are consciously signing us up for 3 terms.


I don't think there's that much you can achiveve by talking Gordon Brown's record down by using statistics as this will sound meaningless to the public. The professionals (like me) already know Gordon has messed up the economy by overregulation and taxation, which will keep the UK growth capped for years to come.

I don't think there's opening to attack Labour on economic policy...yet. At the moment, I would allow them to have the rope to hang theirselves, which they are doing by constantly banging on about the record "investment" into public services. Public opinnion is already starting to suspect that most of this spending has gone to waste as there seems to be very little improvement in services. When this will become widespread, there's very little Labour can do rally opinnion for further spending and this is when the opportunity to attack will come.

Andy, you have made a very good point. There is a strong case for attacking him on public services first. If we can convince people that he is responsible for their very poor performance (which he almost single handedly is), then they will be more willing to consider our alternative analysis to his rhetoric on competence with the economy.

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