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Are you better off than you were four years ago?

"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" was Ronald Reagan's most potent lines from the 1980 presidential campaign. It summarised the malaise that had characterised the Carter years:

As tomorrow's Guardian is reporting, George Osborne intends to put the question at the heart of the Tory campaign. In a major speech tomorrow evening (Wednesday) he will focus on new data that shows the average British income has fallen since Labour was re-elected in 2005. This is the first time that this has happened over the course of a parliament in modern times. The average Briton is £281 worse off than in 2005.

Not only are we poorer, Osborne will say, but also up to our necks in debt.

Up until now the Tory campaign has had too many messages. The leadership has now found a central message and it's a powerful one. On Thursday I'll be suggesting what the the two might be - all based on polling of you, the grassroots.

Reagan's message is a message that Cameron can take into the debates. Adapting Reagan he can ask:

"Are you better off than you were five years ago? Do you feel safer on the streets than five years ago? Is Britain as respected throughout the world as it was? Are you happy with how Gordon Brown regulated the banks? Are you happy that Britain is borrowing £500 million every day? Are you happy with the level of immigration?"

Tim Montgomerie


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