Conservative Diary

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We're changing tactics and turning our guns on Labour, declares Osborne

Prune Yesterday ConservativeHome set out a ten point plan to get the Tory campaign back on track. There are overnight signs that the Conservatives are now doing the right things and are close to finalising a disciplined campaign message. The Times reports that "after a period of drift, [the Tory leadership] has come to a settled strategy." Writing for the same newspaper, George Osborne openly announces a change of tactics:

"Since the new year, we are the party that has been setting out the new policy ideas that will change Britain. Perhaps that has made it too easy for the Labour Party simply to attack us while escaping scrutiny itself. That will now change. We will continue to set out our own positive ideas, but we will also ask searching questions about Mr Brown’s record and whether he has anything new to offer. That is the spotlight Labour is desperate to avoid. It won’t be able to now."

The ConHome plan called for daily reminders of Labour failures and that's what David Cameron will begin with his speech on Sunday. Speaking without notes the Tory leader will blast Labour's record. I only hope all personal attacks on Brown are avoided. Attacks on Brown's character might easily backfire and voters may, ridiculously, see Cameron as the bully.

Our plan called for a clarification of the economic message. In The Telegraph, Charles Moore reports that "the shadow Cabinet was asked to approve a single sheet of paper which tried to crystallise what the Tories think about the economy, and how they relate it to everything else they are trying to do." I look forward to reading that.

Our plan urged that the party stop announcing new policies and focus on the best ones that we do have. There'll be no new policy announcements this weekend and instead the Tories launched six pledges (almost a pledge card) summarising existing policy commitments. I blogged about them last night. They're good.

We also suggested that we define the choice for voters. The election will be framed by CCHQ as five more years of Gordon Brown or change under the Conservatives. The Independent's Andrew Grice writes that "another five years of Gordon Brown is a line we will hear ad nauseam from now on."

Last night in Brighton senior members of Team Cameron were admitting to me that they had had a bad few weeks. They now think they have clarified the campaign message and are confident that the bumpiness is over.  By midweek, the daily YouGov tracker will tell us if it is.

Tim Montgomerie

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