After the Show

Our Political Editor, Patrick Sullivan warns the Conservatives against taking victory for granted in this General Election.

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Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor
On 20 November 2019 15:02

Debates themselves are seldom definitional.

It is the post-debate spin that counts.

Today, CCHQ has been told off by Twitter for renaming their Twitter screen name to FactCheckUK. It is never good when the PR team become the story and the mistake was amateur hour.

Boris Johnson already had a perception problem when it comes to honesty. This only serves to reinforce that perception.

Labour is seekingg to combine the Prince Andrew story with that of the General Election. They want to tie together the two biggest stories in the British media with a neat bow. This wasn't helped by a tone-deaf post-debate tweet from Brandon Lewis attacking Jeremy Corbyn for wanting to "reform" the monarchy. Talk about failing to read the room. Making Prince Andrew an election issue is borrowing a move from President Trump's playbook on Mr. Corbyn's part.

The Labour team are not the bungling idiots that the Conservatives would like to paint them as. They are experts at siezing control orf the narrative and are deftly inserting themselves into the national "water cooler" diiscussion.

Those voters currently not engaged in the election are engaged with the Prince Andrew story. Labour is seeking to include themselves in the debate with Jeremy Corbyn taking the side of the public and Boris Johnson taking the side of Prince Andrew.

All of this whilst more Britons are watching Season 3 of The Crown than are watching these debates. A programmme, I might add, which shows a socialist Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilsonin a positive light; making Mr. Corbyn, by association, less scarty.

The Conservative campaign is undoubtedly slick but as Hillary Clinton learnt to her eternal regret, we are not in the 1990s anymore. It is not enough to be the most slick or even mostg professional campaign in an election. Indeed, having a juggernaut of a campaign can deprive yo of the fleet-footedness neccessary to adapt to that scourage of all politicians - events.

In the Culture Wars of the 21st century' political success comes an ability to tap into the cultural zietgiest of the day.

An article in Foreign Policy magazine recently referred to the Labour Party's Executive Director of Strategy and Communications as Corbyn's Pet Stalinist. I am sure it is a description with which most Conservarives would agree. I've never met the man so I don't know whether this is accurate or an unfair characterisaton. But if yo believe it does, then surely it is reason to be, excuse the pun, on red alert.

Re-reading the excellent Stalin in Power: The Revolution from Abover 1928-1941 by Professor Robert C. Tucker reecntlt it struck me just how obsessive compulsive Comrade Stalin was about sieazing control of the culture in order to consolidate his grip on power.

The Marxist worldview does not see politics, commerce and culture as seperate but as parts of a cohesive whole. In this insight the left has always had a traditional edge over the right.

The Conservatives have a compelling story to tell. Examining the government's record since the referendum, it appears that they did a much better job than any of us thought.

Because Brexit dominated the bandwidth of the national conversation; the real achievements of Teresa May's government were unfairly overlooked. Her government has an admirable record, not least on mental health and special needs.

The first week of the campaign; the conversation was one of Nigel Farage's choosing. In fear that this week it will be one of Mr. Corbyn's choosing. Boris Johnson needs to lead the conversation if he is to stay in Downing Street. In order to do this he needs the campaign to find a message that reverberates around the country, not just the social media of the Westminster Village echo chamber.

 

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