Party leaders need to stop the negative campaignsby Peter Kellner / September 18, 2014 / Leave a comment
A common complaint about politics is that it is treated more like a commercial battle between competing businesses than a principled struggle between competing ideologies. But proudly and with no apology, I look in this article at our parties through the prism of the most vital of all commercial qualities: the strength of their “brand.”
The analysis here concerns each party’s reputation. Past articles have—and future articles will—consider rival policy positions. This one explores the factors that are more likely to sway the floating voters who will decide next year’s general election: people with no fixed political home and who generally pay less attention to specific policies than general perceptions of the parties seeking their votes.
For more than a year, YouGov has been tracking party reputations by asking people whether they agree or disagree with each of 20 statements: six each about Labour and the Conservatives, and four each about Ukip and the Liberal Democrats. We tested equal numbers of positive and negative statements about each party. Here, for the first time, is what we have found—and the memo a political strategist might write to each party leader.
Just one of the six statements shows the public is on your side—but it’s a huge positive: by 52-36 per cent, voters agree that “the Conservatives have taken the tough but necessary decisions to get Britain’s economy growing again.” You are plainly right to make this claim the heart of your election campaign.
However, you have some big negatives that urgently need addressing: most voters reckon your party is out of touch, too obsessed with Europe, and not really committed either to better public services or helping all groups in society. These criticisms are shared by up to half of the people who voted Conservative in 2010. Many of them now support Ukip.
Indeed, as many as 60 per cent of current Ukip supporters think the Tories are “too obsessed with Europe instead of tackling problems here in Britain.” Don’t imagine you can win…