Laughing at the Polls

The Mirror’s Oonagh Blackman has got hold of a Tory training manual on how to woo hostile voters on the doorsteps. It suggests they deflect criticism by “sincerely acknowledging” voters’ emotions and turning hostile statements into positive ones. Called “Campaigning: Engaging the Individual Voter” the manual was produced by training consultancy AchieveGlobal, which is part of Tory backing Lord Laidlaw’s empire. Under the heading “Challenging Assumptions”, it lists the party’s four main sins as being out of touch, anti-women, greedy and divided.

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…

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Quote of the Day

Rowan Atkinson tells The Times

“All jokes about religion cause offence, so it’s pointless apologising for them. You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required.”


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