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8 March 2010

Core Vote Cameron in retreat to immigration focus

Plus a little local difficulty heading his way.

By James Macintyre

So it’s happened. David Cameron’s retreat into the core vote strategy that lost William Hague and Michael Howard the past two general elections — a retreat that I first wrote about here in October 2008 — is complete with the news that he has approved an emphasis on immigration for the marginal seats he is so desperate to secure.

Many people say that a tough line on immigration is popular with the electorate. But it didn’t work in 2005, with Howard’s notorious “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” dog-whistle campaign and his call for a cap on immigration in the manifesto, written by one D Cameron Esq. Either way, “modernisation” it is not.

Meanwhile, Cameron is being criticised from another angle. The conservative Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens has outlined nine questions, including one on the subject of hard drug use, for the Tory leader. (Hitchens assumes that he will continue to be denied the chance to ask them in person.)

Doubtless Cameron will ignore the questions, but he may not be able to ignore Hitchens for much longer. I understand that the terrier-like controversialist — who once lay down in front of Neil Kinnock’s car in an election campaign gone by — will be touring the Tory leader’s constituency, Witney, asking many questions and handing out literature about Cameron’s personal record on expenses.

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