Even the Guardian made Cameron the winner of the TV debate and inside Steve Hilton something will have died. Last night the CCHQ team in the back room cheered heartily when their champion came off stage. Why?
There were no mentions of worthy ‘Big Society’ concepts, no vacuous ‘vote blue, go green’ slogans. Time worn, winning Tory messages were pitched; tougher immigration rules, tackling welfare dependency, lower business taxes, sound money and smaller government. Result? Clear win for the Tory leader.
Labour were pinning their last hope on Gordon triumphing on the economy with his ‘substance’. He actually bombed on the substance of the economy – why Labour strategists thought the man who promised he had abolished ‘boom and bust’ could win on the economy baffles Guido. Tractor stats don’t win votes.
At the time it was being spun the Hilton-Fink modernising agenda helped detoxify the Tory brand in the broadsheets and at the BBC, it appealed to the metropolitan media, the commentariat and most of those who shape the public discourse. It succeeded in gaining the Tories a hearing they didn’t have for over a decade. It played well to essentially the elite Newsnight watching class. On the doorstep it gets no real cut through. The time worn, vote winning Tory message was once again on offer last night.
The attack on Brown for confusing the economy with the state was unanswerable, why hasn’t that line been pushed harder in the never ending public spending debate? Clegg was noticeably at his best last night when he stole Tory themes, like cutting personal taxes. The new old message and the revitalised perfomance of Dave himself may have been broadcast just in time to hold off the LibDem surge. We’ll find out this time next week…