WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: By-election team cook up 'Snooty'

Labour was booed by all sides for its 'witlessly patronising anti-toff campaign' (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, 20 May), as an aide dressed up as 'Lord Snooty', caricaturing Tory candidate Edward Timpson in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

The charge that he was 'a privileged outsider' was 'cooked up by Labour's by-election campaign team, headed by Government whip Steve McCabe' (Daily Mail, 19 May), despite opposition from strategy sup remo Stephen Carter.

Despite commentators insisting that a poor result for Labour could put the squeeze on Gordon Brown's position, Timpson stuck to the line that local issues were most important to the constituency's voters, not 'Eighties-style hatred of the well-off' (Evening Standard, 19 May).

Timpson's credentials as a local businessman whose family had fostered more than 80 children made him a strong favourite, though the Tory hierarchy were cautious about his chances as the 'Conservatives have not made a gain in a by-election since 1982' (BBC, 19 May).

Opinion, p18

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.

What the Blogs Say: ‘Tory Toff' campaign backfires

There was little positive sentiment to be found in the blogosphere as far as Labour's anti-toff campaign was concerned; not even die-hard supporters of the party tried to justify it, perhaps fearing they would be submerged under the avalanche of outraged blog posts on the subject. 

‘The attempt to install the next in line for the Dunwoody dynasty in Crewe,' wrote one blogger, who clearly spoke for many, ‘using just about any smear tactics that they can conjure, seems a particularly appropriate act of exquisite cynicism in the dying days of this corrupt regime.'

The campaign was widely seen as a sign of the party's desperation, and many predicted that a defeat for Labour in such a ‘safe' seat would seal the Prime Minister's fate.  There was some discussion about who would replace Gordon Brown, with David Milliband being the favourite.

Some supporters felt that a defeat could be in the party's best interests, as it might result in a more electable leader being appointed before the next election. 

Many bloggers, however, cited recent polls showing the Conservatives to be significantly ahead, and saw Labour's now seemingly inevitable defeat in Crewe and Nantwich as a further indication that the government is set to lose the next election.

Analysis conducted by Nielsen Online from a source of over 70 million blogs




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