Tory manifesto launch was a masterclass in relaunching a brand

Written by Peter Bingle on 15 April 2015 in Opinion
The Conservatives had been running an excruciatingly bad election campaign. David Cameron has now changed of all that

And suddenly the PM found his voice. Almost as if the Holy Spirit had descended upon him David Cameron seemed to have a new found confidence. A miracle for all to behold ...

After what has thus far been an excruciatingly bad Tory election campaign yesterday's manifesto launch was effective, professional and uplifting. It was a masterclass in relaunching a brand.

At last there was a positive vision reinforced by a document containing an impressive and populist policy agenda for the next five years. In particular there were the three big policy announcements:

- Increasing the provision of free childcare for three and four year olds to thirty hours a week;

- Extending Right To Buy to 1.3 million housing association tenants; and

- Guaranteeing that workers on the minimum wage never pay any income tax.

There were two key drivers underpinning the manifesto launch. The first was to change tack in terms of tone. There was no negativity. Ed Miliband was barely mentioned. This was all very positive and aspirational. A modern Tory version of the Good Life! The second was to portray the Tory Party as not only being on the side of working people but also providing a safety blanket from the cradle to the grave.

Today's media coverage could not be better and contrasts favourably with that given (rather unfairly in my opinion) to Labour's manifesto launch in Manchester.

There have been questions about where the money will come from. The mantra that the increased spending will be delivered by a growing economy will work. Voters are more interested in benefitting from the policies than worrying about how they are going to be funded.

The Tory campaign is now back on the front foot. But nobody other than journalists or politicos read manifestos. So does any of this really matter?

Actually it does because the Tory manifesto will be used during the crucial last three weeks of the campaign to do the one thing that had to be done - to show the public who have had a tough time that five years of austerity were worth the pain as well as revealing that the light at the end of the tunnel is the Good Life. Clever stuff ...

The PM was on top form yesterday. During his opening comments it was possible to sense his pleasure at being able to announce so many popular and politically astute policies. The manifesto may have been drafted by Jo Johnson but this was a policy agenda crafted by George Osborne.

It would seem that the negativity which is the trademark of Lynton Crosby has finally been replaced by a much more optimistic view of the world. It enabled the PM to give one of his most assured and polished performances for a very long time.

It will be interesting to see how the polls move over the next few weeks. I sense that many people will only come to a final view on who to vote for in the last few days of the campaign, maybe indeed only when they are standing in the voting booth. This is a rerun of 1992 ...

After yesterday's manifesto launch I remain confident that David Cameron will still be PM on 8th May.


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