Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The game's afoot.

A shrewd campaign start from Cameron - pre-empting the formal launch, getting in before the PM and focussing solely on Cameron, who is their main weapon. John Major's soapbox seems to have made a return in what was a public meeting-style format on the banks of the Thames with the Palace of Westminster forming a backdrop across the river. Involved, yet simultaneously distant from the entanglements of mere politics. After the Gay Times interview car crash and Chris Grayling's equality gaffe, you would think that when Cameron went through his litany of the great ignored, he would remember the lines in the original briefing on the script that included 'gay or straight.' Was it a lapse of memory on his part or was that line dropped from the speech for some other reason?

Incidentally, the Grayling gaffe only seems to have failed to gain traction because of the hiatus over Easter. He weaselled out of it and backtracked on his initial statement that religious belief should trump equalities legislation - despite having voted for that legislation - and now supports the law, although he still thinks that we should be sensitive to religious beliefs.

A contrasting kick-off from Labour, with Gordon showing that a vote for Labour is a vote for a one of a team, not a team of one, but also making an early bid for the 'I'm just like you' vote to try and establish clear water between him and Cameron. He knows that he will be a main target for the Conservatives, so he's diluting that attack by showing that there is strength in depth. I have to say, Brown looks confident, fit and up for a fight - very far from the battered and bowed leader that the Tories want to portray. One of the Channel 4 News' vox pops picked up an interesting comment - that Brown's flaws show his humanity, that he is not like the manufactured product that is Brand Cameron. In contrast to the team, the Tories now have two senior shallow cabinet members that are now damaged goods - Osborne remains a risky property and Grayling is flawed as well and may prove to be a further liability. If any punches are landed on Cameron, they are really in trouble.

Clegg also said something, but nobody listened. He has a problem in that he is largely unknown, his campaign launch speech was less than exciting and everyone prefers St Vincent Cable, but the upcoming debates won't allow Vince his head. And the slogan is just awful.

Right now, the polls seem to have largely coalesced around an 8-10 point lead for the Tories over Labour, although ICM's poll for the Guardian was much closer, down to just 4 points. Given that other pollsters are significantly higher, I'm going to class this as an outlier pending further data, although I tend to opt for ICM as my pollster of choice.

This will be a very tough election campaign and while Labour are clearly fighting as the underdog, don't rule us down and out quite yet.

Game. On.

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