Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Campbell Should Get out and Solve Problems on the Bus

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Campbell Should Get out and Solve Problems on the Bus

Article excerpt

Charlie Whelan awards marks to the parties for their campaigning and spinning so far

Labour Campaign 8 Spin 6

Peter Mandelson's inevitable attack on Labour's showing was a bit like the Tories' campaign - they both peaked too early. There are two campaigns going on: the media campaign and the real one. The media think it's all about spin, and therefore gave the first week to the Tories, who have surprised everyone with their spin machine, led by the capable Nick Wood.

But on policy issues, the Tories have failed spectacularly. Setting aside John Prescott's punch - which will help Labour - the only real issue, apart from the cut in interest rates, has been the Tories' "[pound]20bn" tax cut and the disappearance of their Treasury spokesman, Oliver Letwin. Gordon Brown pulled out of a BBC On the Record debate with Michael Portillo in the hope that the Tories would be forced to field Letwin against Labour's Andrew Smith.

The Millbank machine has been its usual, Rolls-Royce best. The only real problems have been with the Blair bus. The explanation for this is that Alastair Campbell spends too much time in Millbank and not enough on the road. Campbell is no great strategist, and would be far better doing what he did last time: going out on the road with Blair.

Tories Campaign 6 Spin 8

William Hague hit the ground running with his early manifesto launch. The problem was that the [pound]8bn tax cut was new and, as any election strategist will say, you need months to get a new idea into people's minds. …

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