EDITORIAL: Taking a leaf out of Labour’s book

With the formation of a new creative forum for the Conservative Party, Archie Norman has shown that the Tories can learn from past mistakes.

With the formation of a new creative forum for the Conservative

Party, Archie Norman has shown that the Tories can learn from past

mistakes.



Admittedly the basics of the approach are not new. The Tory Party

already restructured its communications team this summer, combining its

communications and research departments to create a ’war room’ along the

lines of Labour’s Millbank operation prior to its 1997 victory.



What the Tories are now seeking are some of the style credentials that

Blair has chased since coming into office. To do this they are drawing

on the know-how of a new generation of communications and media ’gurus’

including former media adviser to the Princess of Wales, Jane

Atkinson.



The new group is moulded along the lines of Labour’s former Shadow

Communications Agency headed by Philip Gould,which was widely credited

with the thinking behind Labour’s rebranding in the early 1990s.



The big break with the past is that the Tories are using a non-election

year to look beyond the advertising remit at the broader picture. What

is significant is that this group has cast its net wide to take in a

whole range of communications activities, including PR, as part of the

political process.



It shows a recognition that advertising, no matter how controversial,

will not, in isolation, change voting patterns. The Conservative and

Labour campaign spends during the 1997 election were roughly the same,

but it is significant that the Tory cash was primarily squandered on its

billboard campaign, while Labour invested it in building the formidable

Millbank communications team.



What has emerged from the exercise so far is less of a blueprint for the

Tory Party, and more of a shift in thinking. This fact alone may do more

for the Party’s credentials than any advertising campaign.



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