Tories in uproar over fear tactics as Cameron launches latest negative campaign

9th March, 2015 9:20 am

Tory MPs, including members of the Cabinet, are up in arms over the negative focus of the party’s election campaign. According to today’s Independent, Conservatives are turning on Cameron’s election strategist Lynton Crosby, who is considered an expert at effective fear tactics. Many appear to be concerned that Cameron’s unwillingness to takes part in TV debates (at Crosby’s advice) shows he is not willing to make a positive case for a Tory victory.

The paper has quotes from three anonymous Tory ministers – including two at Cabinet level – attacking the party’s offer to voters. With the party so far unable to open up a poll lead, one predicted that “panic will set in if there isn’t significant movement early in April” and that “people are worried we have got the whole tone wrong”. Another opined that they do not have “a more positive campaign”, while a third said:

“We need to appeal to people’s hearts as well as their heads. That is the bit that is missing at the moment. There needs to be inspiration.”

However, other front pages will make tough reading for those concerned, as The Times splash with news of the Tories’ latest negative move:

Tory fear tactics

The Times reports (£):

“The Conservatives will seek to heighten fears today among English voters over a potential electoral pact between Labour and the Scottish Nationalists.

David Cameron will present the party’s latest campaign poster by M&C Saatchi, depicting Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s breast pocket, in an attempt to scare those south of the border into voting Tory.

Lynton Crosby, the Tory election chief, brought forward the campaign to capitalise on growing divisions within Labour over a possible deal with the SNP.”

Those already concerned that the campaign is too attack focussed are unlikely to be impressed with the new poster. When tweeting it out this morning, David Cameron made little attempt to hide the fact it was a scare tactic, describing the “frightening prospect we must avoid”:

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  • Tommo

    I think we need to be very careful about relying on the nuttyNats for support post-may. Don’t forget that it was not too long ago that they used to be called the ‘Tartan Tories’ !!!

    • Ronnie McGowan

      ….”not too long ago”…i was still calling them that 5 minutes ago….

    • Graham Ward

      It’s a very long time since 1979. In those days, Labour was something approaching a socialist party. The SNP is well to the left of Labour these days.

      • Ronnie McGowan

        …except when in coalition with the tories @ holyrood…

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Or in fact when they are in coalition in local government with the Tories as in East Ayrshire.

          • Doug Smith

            Yet John McTernan, Murphy’s Chief of Staff, attended last year’s Tory conference, praised Thatcher and offered the Tories advice on how to beat Labour.

          • John Ruddy

            “We didnt mind her [Thatcher’s] economic policies so much, it was the social ones we didnt like”….

      • Tommo

        Not to me. I was starting my first real job. Seems like just yesterday. 🙁

  • BillFrancisOConnor

    A negative Tory campaign? What’s new? Depending on how negative they become- it could easily backfire.

  • Michael Worcester

    The SNP having the whip hand in England is hardly positive

    • Doug Smith

      But better than Cameron/Osborne and their Progress chums in the Labour Party having the whip hand.

    • gavin

      Having 50 MP’s is hardly the whip hand.

  • HWT

    What really annoyed me was that John Humphrys on the Today programme this morning picked this up and kept grilling the Labour economic spokesperson on the subject of a coalition with the SNP. The Tories only have to put up a poster and the BBC does their work for them.

    • gavin

      Gordon Brewer did exactly the same on the Politics Show in Scotland, yesterday.

  • BillFrancisOConnor

    It’s easy to criticise and be negative about others. It’s much more difficult to be constructive and positive about what you yourself are offering. See the roasting those of us on here who positively support Labour get. A negative campaign could quite easily blow up in the Tories’ faces.

  • Doug Smith

    The Tories negative approach won’t work.

    Many voters like myself are hoping that Miliband will need support from a Plaid/Green/SNP anti-austerity parliamentary block – it will be the best way to keep Labour’s free-market fundamentalist, austerity-mad Blairites under control.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      What happened to the strategy of voting UKIP that you proposed last May?

    • Mukkinese

      All fine and good, but it is a dangerous game.

      The Tories will probably be the biggest party on current polls, almost every pollster is predicting this.

      There will be a drift back to the LibDems, this always happens whenever they have lost support in the past. More floating voters will plump for the incumbents when the election comes around, this always happens.

      While it is unlikely that the Tories will get a majority, they might well get enough support from other parties to run a minority government.

      With the support of the LibDems again, which we know both Clegg and Alexander want, along with UKIP and probably the DUP, the Tories might well have enough votes in the commons to survive a vote of no confidence, or an amendment to the Queens speech, they amount to the same thing.

      Who will there be then who SNP/Plaid and the Greens can do deals with?

      The best way to kick the tories out is to make sure that Labour are the biggest party. Again, even if they kept all their Scottish seats, a Labour majority is unlikely and deals will have to be done…

  • gavin

    The thing is, Salmond has ran a popular and reasonably effective government in Scotland. He resigned honourably within days of losing the referendum, which he came within a few % points of actually winning.
    Probably a majority of Scots would prefer him over any of the Westminster political leaders. Cameron is playing into the SNP’s hands on this.

    • Tommo

      10% is not ‘a few’ !!!

      • Dave Postles

        Just over 5% more and he would have won.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    Tories have nothing positive to say, “Vote SNP, get Ed Miliband”.

    Labour have nothing positive to say, “Vote SNP, get David Cameron”.

    With both campaigns mired in negativity voters will rightly conclude, ” a plague of both Labour and the Tories houses”

    • Mukkinese

      And damn themselves in the process.

      Labour or the Tories are the only parties which can lead the next U.K. government. It is as simple as that.

      Without making a deal with one or the other, all the bluff and bluster in the world will do the SNP, Plaid nor any other party any good at all…

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      ‘With both campaigns mired in negativity voters will rightly conclude, ” a plague of both Labour and the Tories houses”‘…………….


      ( Someone else who can tell the future and knows the collective mind of millions).

  • Bernie Evans

    Tories cannot have positive campaign because their policy is to shrink the state when 21st century society demands “big” government. Laissez-faire is theTory option! Have submitted piece on this to Labour List, but….!!

  • Chris Smith

    So this is all Lynton Crosby’s Idea. If he is such an expert why is he unaware that Alex Salmond is a back bench MSP. He is not leader of his party, he is not deputy leader of his party. He is not an MP and if he becomes one he will not be the Parliamentary Leader of his party. The term ‘blind leading the blind’ springs to mind.

    • Mukkinese

      Politics is all about perception. It is not about the way things are, but the way most people think they are.

      More people in England and Wales identify Salmond as a leader of the SNP than do Sturgeon and voters tend to be a little more sympathetic towards women politicians than male politicians.

      It is the spin-doctors art…


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