You can get it if you really want is the theme of a £500,000 upbeat advertising campaign that the Conservatives are launching on Facebook, on billboards across Britain and in tomorrow's national press. Versions of the two ads that you see below will be appearing in seven national newspapers and many regional newspapers:
There are ten themes to the Tory campaign: the NHS, policing, borrowing and the economy, inheritance tax, stamp duty, pensions, benefits reform, a tougher approach to immigration, green energy and classroom discipline. No mention of Europe - that's deliberate with the explanation that the Tories are currently working with the cross-party IWantAReferendum campaign.
The party is also introducing a new form of recruitment: Friends of the Conservatives. People will be able to register as friends of the party for a minimum of £1 and in return they'll receive a weekly online newsletter and suggestions of how they can get involved in their communities.
A few reactions to all of this:
- A half-a-million pound investment is a big deal for a British political party; this far from an election.
- It's a positive and upbeat campaign and it's very broad - a good, balanced mix of traditional issues (tax, crime, immigration) with newer messages (protecting the NHS, encouraging greenery).
- But is it too broad? The Tories still lack a big theme. We think the party would be better to pick fewer, more defining messages and pursue them with hare-like boldness. We don't necessarily have to pick those defining issues now but we still believe that a war on crime and protecting the NHS would be good bets.
- The Friends idea is a good one. The age of mass membership political parties is over. CCHQ doesn't have up-to-date Tory membership numbers but the guess is that it's probably still down from 2005. Our preference, though, would be for people to be invited to be Friends/ Supporters of Conservative campaigns rather than the party. This is the age of single issue campaigns. We think people will give money to vigorous campaigns on issues that they really believe in. Those campaigns will need good websites to give the campaigns life. Conservatives.com remains an uninteresting site - too focused on us and not the voters and their concerns.