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"Let's cut benefits" - The Ex-Communicator

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April 20th, 2010


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11:19 pm - "Let's cut benefits"
Is this a real Tory poster or some kind of joke? The first few times I saw it today I thought it was a pretty weak joke, but it seems from this context in the Guardian that it's a real campaign poster put out by the Conservatives.

... as I type this I am reading the comments on the Guardian and the author of the article confirms it is real:
We had to check with the Tories that it wasn't (a parody). It is an odd consequence of this election when your first reaction on seeing a campaign poster is to assume it is a spoof

Then I typed something about party policies and employment, but I have just deleted that, you have made up your own minds on what you support, and there hasn't been a change of policy.

I think what has changed is the direction that Andy Coulson is taking their campaign, and the way the poster presents the policies. It looks to me like a refocus on the Tory home ground, giving up the reach-out to new supporters, and no longer aiming to be a uniting party. I assume it is a reaction to the consolidation of the Lib Dems in the centre ground. It's a significant last minute change of direction. I find it a surprising tactical choice, like the similar late lurch of John McCain to the right.

(24 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:iainjcoleman
Date:April 20th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Like you, when I first saw it I thought it was a parody. But it's real all right - Cameron posing proudly in front of it on the telly tonight - and the Conservative blogosphere seems to be creaming itself over it.

I think it's a very good strategy for getting no more votes than Michael Howard managed in 2005.
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From:communicator
Date:April 20th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm trying not to project my own feelings or wishes onto 'the electorate' but this seems like a tactical error to me. Melanie Phillips likes it though, I just read her article in the Spectator.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:April 20th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
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She would. This is classic "shore up the base" stuff. Like a Lib Dem poster saying "ID Cards are shit", or a Labour poster saying "Tories are bastards". It's the type of strategy you would expect Labour to be employing for this campaign, but it is absolutely not where the Tories want to be right now. They want to be around 40% in the polls, with the base firmly onside, and pitching for votes from swing voters. Looks like Nick Clegg's put paid to that for the time being.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:April 20th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
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..which is to say, this poster is not a tactical error in itself, it is a tactical response to an earlier error. Taking paracetamol when necessary is not an error, but it does indicate that you're not doing too well at the moment.
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From:matgb
Date:April 21st, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
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This, pretty much.

They shouldn't need to shore up the core support. That should be onside already, but then, Stupid Party; they genuinely think most of the country agress with them on this stuff.

Also? They were boasting it was unphotoshoppable. This amuses me intensely.
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From:matgb
Date:April 21st, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
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Actually, it's from Charlotte Gore. Who lives about 3 miles from me and it's her round.

But, y'know, it is cool, I agree.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:April 21st, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
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Still, it's well worth browsing through the other pictures in that Facebook group. An incredible outpouring of spontaneous creativity.
From:srk1
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:24 am (UTC)
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What I don't understand is how the message relates to the image.

A poster about benefit cuts - not great but perhaps not surprising given where the Tories are now.

A poster about benefit cuts accompanied by Dave in sleeves-rolled-up, go-getting, 'big society' mode - wtf? It looks like he is really relishing the challenge of giving the poor a good kicking.

It will certainly appeal to the type of people who write virulent screeds online about the necessity for a Dave government, but they were all voting for Dave anyway.
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From:communicator
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
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wtf - that is exactly my feeling. The semiotics seem to be off. Not only the shirtsleeves picture but the informality and cheeriness of the expression 'Let's' - it includes the reader among the cutters in opposition to those who are cut, and it assumes they are caught up in the motion: 'Let's cut'. It gives me the creeps.

I would have thought a more sombre tone - we can't go on like this, more people have to work - or something like that. But then that isn't their policy either. So it just seems to hit a strange note.
From:srk1
Date:April 21st, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
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It's weird, because we've been told for the last four years that spin and presentation is what the Tories have sharpened up at, and presumably all of these posters are discussed and focus grouped to death before they get anywhere near a bill board, and yet the first reaction I've heard from most people (including non-headbanging Tories) is that it's a bad poster which might even lose them votes.
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From:communicator
Date:April 21st, 2010 09:10 am (UTC)
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The Labour party hit a similar bum note with that poster comparing Cameron to Gene Hunt (he should be so lucky)
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From:hano
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:42 am (UTC)
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It's desperation, CCHQ are absolutely bricking it right now. The realisation that in fact, they need to do more than just turn up to win the election has come rather too late for them to actually do anything about it, it's not as if they have any realistic ideas in reserve. Hence they react instinctively in the only way they know how. Next week they'll be attacking immigration, you can almost see the script writing itself here.
Thing is, it's not going to work. Sure, it'll shore up the base, but that base has been shrinking with an aging population profile and a lot of the votes that went to Blair in 97 are now with Clegg, and the further to the right the Tories go, the less likely the centre vote goes to them.
Which makes the debate tomorrow even more crucial. Expect Cameron to come out all guns blazing whilst trying to come across as a human being. He'll mess that up of course as such a feat is beyond him. Brown will be the heavyweight bruiser snarling in the corner, which won't do him any harm, but won't gain him much in the way of votes. Which means it's all there for Clegg to lose as everyone tunes in to see if there's sufficient substance to prove that he's more than a nine days wonder.
No pressure then.

Edited at 2010-04-21 08:43 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:hano
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:44 am (UTC)
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PS And the more to the right they go, the more we'll see posters like this
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From:communicator
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:49 am (UTC)
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my brother works quite high up in the tax system, and this is completely true
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From:hano
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:56 am (UTC)
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Of course the Tories reflexively hate benefit fraud while privately applauding tax avoidance. The fact that many are at the very least complicit in tax avoidance is purely coincidental.
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From:matildabj
Date:April 21st, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
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Oh yay, that was my very first thought when I saw that awful Tory poster. Glad someone has run with it! Thanks for the link.
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From:communicator
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:49 am (UTC)
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It's on Sky isn't it? Does that mean we won't be able to watch it unless we pay Rupert Murdoch, because I'm not giving him a penny.

I formed the impression looking at the last debate that Cameron is probably quite a private person, outgoing and self-confident among his own set, but finding a public face difficult to maintain. If he draws on this Bullingdon-style private confidence he will come across as a flashman bully. He is trapped by the imagery he has drawn upon.
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From:hano
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:59 am (UTC)
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Yeah it's on Sky. And like you, I refuse to give Murdoch a penny.
That's bang on about Cameron. I am rather enjoying watching him and CCHQ tie themselves ever further up in knots as they try to come up with a coherent position.
From:srk1
Date:April 21st, 2010 08:59 am (UTC)
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If you have a freeview box you can get sky news without having to pay Murdoch anything. Alternatively, it's on Radio 4.

There's a bit of a campaign to get the BBC to broadcast it on TV given that the rights are freely given for all three debates as per the original agreement.
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From:despotliz
Date:April 21st, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
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It's also repeated on BBC2, but not till 11.30pm.
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From:communicator
Date:April 21st, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
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I'll be getting my zeds by then
From:srk1
Date:April 21st, 2010 09:06 am (UTC)
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I think also what it illustrates is that that ramped-up, Andy Coulson/Sun/NotW mentality of going in hard with the negative personalised right wing messages is actually quite out of step with the feelings of the British public. It's a very Americanised style of campaigning in a country which (despite what a lot of people say) is fundamentally different to America in terms of its politics and outlook.

The reason the Tories are screwed is that Oliver Letwin's Hegelian dialectic ((c) anonymous Tory staffer) is not really resonating either.
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From:communicator
Date:April 21st, 2010 09:15 am (UTC)
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I think the political mainstream in this country is way to the right of you or me, but those right wing policies have to be expressed in 'British' terms, and I think that's a subtle cultural framing, and this poster kind of misses that. Perhaps it's a one-off mistake.

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