Labour and Conservatives must project unity to voters beyond conference hall

Labour must convey the message to voters beyond the conference hall that it can hold the Government to account on the issues on which it is united, such as Brexit, grammar schools and health, according to Tony Blair's former comms director, David Hill.

Both party leaders must speak to the voters beyond the conference hall (© East News/REX/Shutterstock and Robert Perry/REX/Shutterstock)
Both party leaders must speak to the voters beyond the conference hall (© East News/REX/Shutterstock and Robert Perry/REX/Shutterstock)
Hill was speaking at a breakfast briefing organised by the agency Champollion, of which he is a director, to assess the political state of affairs the UK finds itself in as the two major parties prepare for their annual conferences.

The EU referendum and resulting Brexit, Labour disunity and the appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives were all under the spotlight at the event, held in Westminster on Thursday morning.

In a Q&A following the panel session, in which Hill had told the audience that Labour disunity could add an additional 15 years to its march back to electoral victory, he told PRWeek that the party must fight on the issues on which it is united.

He said: "A very important message to convey is that we may have problems in terms of internal organisation, but what we can do is concentrate on calling the Government to account on issues where we are united... Brexit, grammar schools and health. These are really big frontline policies where we can attack effectively."
Fellow Champollion director and Conservative commentator Jo-Anne Nadler said her party also had a job to do regarding its key messages reaching beyond the conference hall, and that May needed to capitalise on the sense of relief felt in the immediate weeks after the EU referendum that the country was still in safe hands.

She added: "She needs to articulate this by pulling together that sense from her personality, together with some indication in her speech that there is some consistency there and that she is not presenting a series of ad-hoc policies."

Fellow panellist Ian Wright, former comms strategist for the Lib Dems and now director general of the Food and Drink Federation, predicted that Brexit negotiations would suck up more Government resources than anyone seemed to realise.

He also predicted serious external challenges to the political status quo, including a war in eastern Ukraine and the election of far-right politician Marine Le Pen to the office of French president.

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