Why the Tories' latest poster will fail

Attempt to exploit Brown-Darling divisions won't work.

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Here is the Tories' latest poster, an apparent attempt to exploit Alistair Darling's "forces of hell" remark. It's true to say that voters hate divided parties, but I can't see this particular attack working.

First, while the Chancellor's frank interview with Sky News's Jeff Randall fascinated the Westminster village, it had little impact elsewhere. Most voters don't even recognise Darling.

Second, as the Guardian's Larry Elliott recently pointed out, the paradox is that the political differences between the PM and his Chancellor have actually diminished in recent weeks.

For a period, Brown was hoping to use the surplus from lower-than-expected unemployment to fund a pre-election giveaway, but he has since come over to Darling's position that any spare cash must be used to reduce the deficit.

Voters are only really troubled by personal differences between politicians when they spill over into political dispute (as in the case of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson). As No 10 and the Treasury are not, contrary to rumour, at war over next month's Budget there's no risk that policymaking will be distorted by Brown and Darling's sour relationship.

Given their position in the polls, I'd be surprised if there weren't some Tories wondering whether they would have been better off following Labour and running a largely poster-free campaign.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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