ConservativeHome - The Jury

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How should Conservatives attack Labour?

Members of the new ConservativeHome Jury offer their thoughts. These thoughts were first submitted a week ago and appeared in the ConservativeHome Party Conference newspaper.

ConHome man pruning rose

PAUL ABBOTT: Patrick O'Flynn said it best last week. I paraphrase: "You can't trust Labour with your money... You can't trust Labour on immigration." This should be expressed as a relentless focus on the cost of living. Ed Miliband is still the candidate of higher fuel duty at the pumps; carbon taxes on your electricity bills; higher interest rates on your mortgage; and uncapped benefits paid to millionaires. Under him, Labour is still the party of the poverty trap. But, by contrast, the Conservative Party is about aspiration: Free childcare for working mothers. A revamped Right-To-Buy. Cheaper petrol. Cheaper mortgages. A tough cap on welfare. A cap on immigration. The biggest ever expansion in apprenticeships, and academy schools. The highest rise in the state pension since the 1940s. These are all things that Labour voted against and we should remind them of it.

LUKE BOZIER: Say it, and say it again, Labour will say anything it can in the run up to the election. Are the public really to think that the party which took British debt over a trillion pounds can be trusted on the economy again? Are we to think that Ed Miliband is as 'normal' as he suggests? He's as beltway as it gets.

MAX WIND-COWIE: Labour is at an interesting, dangerous crossroads.  In Lord Glasman and Jon Cruddas they have thinkers determined to sweep the knee-jerk ultra-liberalism and fabianism of modern Labour awayand to replace it with a more grounded, small-c conservative message.  That should be sending shivers down all our partisan spines.  Simply attacking Ed as ‘red’ won’t work in such circumstances – we need a more nuanced strategy.  We should be hugging the socially conservative instincts of the 'Blue-few' close and looking to steal their clothes where appropriate while constantly reminding voters that the bulk of Ed’s party would never let him deliver on 'One Nation' Labour in Government.

SAMUEL KASUMU: To coin the phrase ‘it’s the economy stupid’. If there is one issue that every person in the country is conscious of, it’s the current financial challenges caused by Labour’s inability to manage the public purse. Whilst most are now bored of simply being reminded that it is Labour’s fault for the current mess, they will respond to the idea that we are as competent as ever when it comes to ensuring an economic recovery. We must breathe life into the economic debate and demonstrate that there is a clear path that includes support for the most vulnerable, and appreciation for hard work.

ANGIE BRAY MP: We should start attacking Labour off the back of Ed Miliband’s new adoption of the one-nation slogan and use it to point out that his speech – far from encapsulating one-nationism – was actually about dividing the Country into us and them: sectional interests, class warfare, public vs private, and government vs business (if don’t run your business our way, watch out.)

DAVID NUTTALL MP: Despite promising to end ‘Boom and Bust’ Labour are the Party who when trusted with the nations finances wrecked the British economy. They sold off our nations gold reserves. They spent billions of pounds we did not have increasing the national debt which future generations will have to pay back. They are essentially a pro-EU party in favour of more government spending and therefore higher taxes and more borrowing. Voters at the next election will face a simple choice; Return to the road to ruin under Labour, or Continue on the road to recovery with the Conservatives.

DOMINIC SCHOFIELD: Firstly we must reject the impulse to dismiss Ed Miliband as unelectable: his Blue Labour/One Nation narrative has the potential to resonate with millions of voters, particularly those who perceive themselves to be in the ‘squeezed middle’.  Our attack should be two-pronged:  first, focus hard on Labour’s economic record.  Remind voters that every Labour Government starts with promises of fiscal responsibility and ends with a deficit, empty coffers and higher tax.  Second, develop a genuine One Nation vision and programme for the economic renewal of the North, South West and Wales to counter Labour’s ‘The Tories are an uncaring party of the South East’ narrative.

ANDREW BOFF: Expose their policies for what they are: the world's longest running Ponzi scheme.

DAVID SKELTON: The first priority facing Cameron in Birmingham is to reclaim the ‘one nation’ banner from Ed Miliband and set out why the Tory Party is the party of one nation values. Ed Miliband’s speech still leaves his party vulnerable on economic competence. In our Northern Lights research, 54% of voters believe that “Labour waste your money... and can’t be trusted to run the economy.” Miliband’s speech still leaves his party vulnerable on the issue. Cameron’s other major challenge is to relentlessly focus on blue collar concerns and cost of living issues. Emphasising job creation and how the Tories can help voters struggling with squeezing living standards will help Cameron reach out to the voters he needs to win over in 2015.

RYAN BOURNE: “So far Conservative attacks have focused on competence: particularly the economic mess Labour bequeathed the Coalition. It's effective, but becomes less credible over time when the public want solutions.  Attacks on Labour must now be made on a new front: that it is devoid of the ideas necessary for the problems we face. Policy initiatives should be attacked as insignificant or damaging, and Labour's flip-flopping on popular reforms exposed for a lack of conviction. The Conservatives should use the vacuum of proposals in Miliband's 'One Nation' vision to define him in the public consciousness. Linking to the tax and spend of France's Hollande could be a good starting point.”

LORD BATES: Ed Miliband and Ed balls led us into the worst recession since the 1930s. Labour's recession resulted in the loss of over 1 million jobs. Labour simply can't be trusted to face up to tough choices necessary to govern Britain. Britain is now on the long hard road to recovery don't let Labour wreck it again.  

JULIAN BRAZIER MP: We should stop ad hominem attacks on Miliband and his team. We should remind people that Labour got the nation hopelessly into debt and cost out every Labour proposal. We must build third party support for our structural reform programmes and avoid reforms where we lack the public support of at least some respected practitioners. Labour find it much harder to fight our benefit and education reforms than changes in the NHS, where there is a paucity of doctors and nurses speaking out for change. Be careful on the Police. Where our partnership with the Lib Dems prevents implementation of popular reforms which Labour cannot support (eg Human Rights reform, tougher measures on immigration), make manifesto pledges they cannot match.

JOHN BALD: Ed "Bankruptcy" Balls is a major liability, as shown on Question Time on Thursday, and he had much the same effect on the school system, rebuilding everything in sight whether it was necessary or not.  Over generous benefits and destructive immigration remain weaknesses for which Labour has not yet been forgiven, though the coalition has prevented us from taking the necessary action.  The return of Scargillism in modern unions might help a little, though they seem to have worked out that it would be sensible to lie low till after the election.  However,  Scargill is an increasingly distant memory for the modern electorate, and I have some concern that we may be moving into territory where Labour can start to attack us. 


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