Daily Archives: October 1, 2009

Jim Pickard

Lord Mandelson trotted out the old line last night (on Newsnight) about how Labour could make asset sales as well as cutting departmental spending to help get return the UK balance sheet to normal.

Sorry to get technical on you. But here is why the existing £16bn asset sale programme – promised a while back – is unlikely to materialise. Read more

Jim Pickard

Guido* blogged this morning about the rumour of Alastair Campbell returning to Labour’s spin operation to bolster the party ahead of the general election.

I can confirm this one is true, having been told the same thing by a cabinet minister down in Brighton. Apparently the sticking point is about timing – whether he should get on board asap or wait until a month or so before the big day. Read more

Just saw these prints on the way to Brighton station. I particularly enjoyed ‘Falling Brown’, which is a play on Michael Douglas’ classic film. But the manager of the Art Republic shop disagreed. “It’s a bit late,” he said. “Hasn’t Brown already fallen?”

A quick thought before I leave Brighton. It seems that Labour have seen their first and foremost task over the past three months as framing David Cameron’s Conservatives as negatively as possible. For them, it’s the phase of the campaign where they define their opponent. You can tell how important the effort has been by what Gordon Brown has been willing to sacrifice to do it.

Take the “cuts vs investment” morass over the summer. No ministers are now willing to own up to penning that strategy. Most blame it on Brown’s stubbornness. But one cabinet minister did try to explain the logic behind the madness. Brown stuck to his guns primarily because it was a good way to paint the Tories as heartless small-state ideologues. He always knew he would have to be more realistic about cuts — he just wanted to stagger the process and use the investment vs cuts phase to redefine the Tories.

The second example is the fuss over the debate. Again Brown refused to include a reference to a televised debate with Cameron in his speech — even though he has basically decided to do it. Why give up what would have given a sharp edge to a speech with a dozen mediocre news lines? Apparently Brown didn’t want a debate announcement to obscure the message on the dire consequences of a Tory government. Negative politics won again.

Some of the attack lines for the election campaign are already sketched out in Labour’s pre-manifesto document, released today. The Tory response — pasted below — gives a good sense of what we should expect in the election. Read more