Parties set out stalls for the year

Week one of 2009 and I am already slightly exhausted. Camps Brown and Cameron have been working all out to get their charges on every available outlet going.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

I have no idea how they are going to keep it up – gallons of Red Bull, loyalty and raw fear I expect. Election defeat is haunting Brown and memories of the Major/Kinnock 1992 election are pestering those at Tory HQ.

Labour begins 2009 hoping that voters will feel uneasy with ‘a novice’ running the country. It will spend the year placing Brown on the world stage as frequently as possible, and reiterating that the Tories are ‘revelling in things going wrong’.

Brown in general is maudlin; I would rather have seen the Blairs tackling the credit crunch. Cherie would have said something fruity about her and Tony sharing the bathwater; she would have rolled up her sleeves, given us a song, buttered some baps.

The Conservatives should continue their theme of ‘cutting being the new spending’. New Labour has used language effectively, borrowing Tory lexicon, and now the Conservatives can lob it back to Labour.

They should not be driven to detail policy before the general election. The public simply want a sense of direction and insight into values.

Expect also in 2009 to become more familiar with other members of the Tory shadow cabinet – the double bill of the Dave ’n’ George show has to stop. With an election not far off, a few other carefully picked Tory faces must be put on show and they will have to be on best behaviour. Even though slippery Mandelson appears to have escaped questioning with regards to what he was doing on a gauche gin palace in the Aegean, it will be the Osborne family that spends this summer holed up in a croft in the Outer Hebrides.

If this year is going to be a challenge for us, we should spare a thought for Brown and Cameron as they come up with creative ways to ‘out-frugal’ each other. Top thrift marks to Yvette Cooper, who has been wearing threadbare pastel cardigans from charity shops for months now.

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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