It also lists negative statements such as “Conservatives can’t win”, “Conservatives can’t be trusted” and “Conservatives don’t care about public services”. Candidates, says the manual, should “reframe” the hostile statements into something less threatening. Accusations of “frontline cuts” should be fielded by referring to “providing better services with less waste”.
Under the heading “Acknowledging Emotions Statements”, the document then predicts how voters with memories of the grim Major years might accuse candidates. It lists possible complaints and tells candidates they should listen and practise responses to common anti-Conservative statements: “Have one person make the negative statement. The rest of the group then challenges the under-lying assumptions and reframes.” It also advises candidates to use “vivid language” and “humour” to impress weary voters.
Worth a try? “Heard the one about how the Conservative Party was united for ID cards one week and abstained the next week? No? Oh, errr, I’ll get my coat…“