With Tories losing the ‘ground war’, here comes Murdoch

Things have not been going well for the Conservative election campaign in marginal seats such as Croydon Central. As we enter the final fortnight before polling day, JOHN BRAGGINS says we should expect Rupert Murdoch’s news organisation to intervene

Croydon ConstituenciesThe latest polls show once again little movement, with the Conservatives and Labour hovering around 30 to 34 per cent.

There were two other pointers from polls this week: student voting intention Lab 35 Con 25 and Green 15 – Greens have dropped considerably from last student poll; and from Ashcroft “which direction are the ‘Don’t Knows’ moving” (net movement): Labour -19, Con -26, UKIP -31 and LibDems –41. This shows Labour getting a bigger share of undecided voters together with the impact of a Labour squeeze on LibDems and a Tory squeeze on UKIP.

The Tory attack seems now to be relentless on the SNP getting into bed with Labour and all the badness that will come from that. The strategy behind that was backed up by ComRes this week who asked “who would you most like to see become a minority partner in a new government” – LibDems scored 36 per cent, UKIP 32 per cent and SNP down at 22 per cent. It seems most voters want another dose of Clegg over Sturgeon’s SNP.

The Economist had a interesting article on what they call “the ground war”, that is what parties are doing in your constituency as opposed to what’s happening in the media (“the air war”).

Who is winning the battle for undecided voters in the "ground war"

Who is winning the battle for undecided voters in marginal seats in the election “ground war”?

I quote: “Far from the media scrums and the television cameras, however, another, less-discussed story is emerging that is making Labour types just as chipper. Just as the Tory strength in the air war is surprisingly lacking, Labour’s advantage on the ground is proving greater than expected. The Conservatives have put significant efforts into bolstering their local campaigns: parachuting in American-style organisers, sending hundreds of young activists out to marginals (an operation known in the party as the “shag bus”), and generally trying to make doorstep campaigning more fun.

“There were good reasons to believe this would work: Grant Shapps, the party chairman, has an excellent reputation as a ground campaigner in his Welwyn Garden City seat, and pulled off a strong win in the Newark by-election last year, when he pioneered techniques that he is now deploying nationally.”

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the Tories will need more than a “Shag Bus” to win the Ground War – for every marginal polled showed that voters had heard and seen more from Labour than the Tories.

That took me back to 1997 when Labour held focus groups to find out what young people most wanted from an incoming Labour government, the result came back from the agency “what they want is a job and a girl/boyfriend”. This got shortened to “£50 and a shag”; with inflation, that would now surely equate to £200 and a weekend away. Which party would be brave enough to promise that?

The power of the media is greatly reduced thanks to social media. If you are a Labour supporter you will say “thank god” when you read the latest from that fair-minded owner of The Sun and The Times.

I quote from The Independent: “Rupert Murdoch berated journalists on his tabloid papers for not doing enough to stop Labour winning the general election and warned them that the future of the company depended on stopping Ed Miliband entering No10. The proprietor of Britain’s best-selling tabloid warned executives that a Labour government would try to break up News Corp, which owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. He instructed them to be much more aggressive in their attacks on Labour and more positive about Conservative achievements in the run-up to polling day.”

We ain’t seen nothing yet…

  • John BragginsJohn Braggins, pictured right, is a founder of BBM campaign and communications company, who worked for the Labour Party for 10 years leading up to the 1997 General Election, introducing direct mail, telephone banks and the strategic use of out-door publicity. He is an expert on local government, acting as head of local government for Labour from 2000 to 2002 and senior press officer for the newly formed Greater London Assembly
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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, Chris Philp MP, Croydon Central, Croydon North, Croydon South, Gavin Barwell, Sarah Jones MP, Steve Reed MP and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to With Tories losing the ‘ground war’, here comes Murdoch

  1. Rod Davies says:

    Are the Tories running out of money?

    Last week a solitary, and rather unhappy looking, man on Billington Hill by East Croydon Stn thrust a photocopied version of Mr Barwell’s flyer into my hand. Not a glossy leaflet printed on both sides, resplendent in Tory True Blue, but a flimsy photocopy printed on one side. It seemed rather desperate at the time.

    Or has Mr Barwell been abandoned by the Conservative Party in the face of Sarah Jones’ campaign? There’s so much Red & Yellow out there, in the form of Ms Jones’ posters, that it’s starting to resemble a Spanish football match! And sitting in the strategically placed the barbers ( http://www.aventurasbarbers.co.uk/ ) last Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice the platoons of Labour activists arriving to be kitted out and dispatched to knock on doors etc.

    Or could it be that Mr Barwell is trying to emulate the Green Party with some cheap handouts, to make it look like the local Conservatives are neighborhood grassroots activists?

    Perhaps Mr Barwell is concentrating all his resources in the hard-line UKIP areas of Croydon Central, trying to fend off Peter Staveley’s encroachment upon his turf?

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