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Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting The Expectations Game Right

I went down to Kent at the weekend to celebrate my dad's 69th birthday, which makes him the same age as Abu Bakar Bashir, Ian Brady, Frederick Forsyth, Ben E. King, Diana Rigg, Jon Voight and Terry Wogan. Now you can see the influences that made me what I am today. Because of my absence I missed the opportunity to react to Labour hitting 40% in the opinion polls due to a collapse in support for the Tories and Conservative Ealing candidate Tony Lit turning out to be even more of a self-serving brown-nosed s**t than the average wannabe MP.

It strikes me that the Tories have not learnt two important things about by-elections:

1) The degree of scrutiny your candidate will come under in a by-election means you need a ruthless panel process to weed out folk who just attended the other party's fundraising dinner, had their photo taken with their leader and made a large donation to do so. It doesn't mean that you headhunt people with local status without checking their background. Labour learnt all about the need for hardline selection procedures in by-elections the hard way, after Deirdre Wood lost us the Greenwich by-election and Bob Gillespie the Govan by-election. In by-elections a dull candidate who offers no hostages to fortune is preferable to a controversial one. That's exactly why I don't intend to put myself forward again for selection as a parliamentary candidate."That'll be £4,800 down and the rest to follow, then"
"I'm sure we can sort you out a peerage"

2) Managing expectations is critical. If the Tories had said they hoped to move from third to second in a safe Labour seat, they might be on track to match that expectation and get good coverage. But they've implied they could win and sent Macaroon down to the seat four times so, that success or failure is linked to him personally. It's created a situation where as long as Labour just holds on, it will be portrayed as a Tory failure to match expectations. Maybe I should follow Tony Lit and offer my professional services to the Tory Party. After all, even in the post Campbell era it continues to look like they need public relations expertise much more than we do. We're still spinning like plates in a circus."Special offer this week - the first photo with me is free"
"I'm sure we can sort you out a peerage"

David Cameron has gambled the credibility of his leadership by associating himself so personally with this by-election. If Lit loses on Thursday - which I think he will - the emus on the David Davis wing of the Tory Party will be circling like cassowaries. And that could make an autumn General Election very tempting, so long as we get in well before Gordon has to cheer the country up with smiling messages of hope for turkeys at Christmas.

How about changing from the traditional Thursday and making polling day Tuesday 25th September? That way Labour could benefit from everyone having to listen to the PM's speech on Monday 24th but not have any chance to question Gordon and his policies of "more of the same with a more dour presentation". It could be just like TUC Conference 2001 all over again, with the PM rushing off to attend to an international crisis. And the Tory conference would be after polling day. So nobody would have to listen to them embarrassing themselves with their buffoon candidates, newly recruited celebrity donors and Lord Snooty leadership.

On second thoughts, maybe Labour would do better if the Tories had their conference before the election. Maybe I'd better think this idea through more carefully before I rush to post.

1 comment:

Chris Paul said...

Thanks Luke. New Iain Dale graphic over at mine. Here it is.