Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
28 February 2010

Why the Tories’ latest poster will fail

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

By George Eaton

6a00d83451b31c69e20120a8e00c96970b-500wi

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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

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.

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.