Posts Tagged ‘Tory business letter’

If celebrity endorsers come in for stick, will they put themselves forward in future?

02/04/2015, 04:13:06 PM

Here’s a question. Does the inevitable takedown of a third party endorsement during an election campaign still make the original endorsement worthwhile?

Just look what’s happened this week.

Monday saw Labour’s first election broadcast, fronted by actor Martin Freeman. The Office star subsequently found himself weighed and measured for sending his children to a school “which charges up to £12,669 a year” while rehashing a story about his partner’s bankruptcy, despite Freeman being worth “more than £10million.”

Next came the Tories’ endorsement from 100 business leaders yesterday. Many were accused of being heartless capitalist storm troopers, warding off any threat to their wealth from Labour’s mansion tax or proposed 50p top rate.

Then, last night, Labour put out its own list of endorsers, hours after it ran with its pledge to outlaw zero hours contracts. Cue this morning’s inevitable revelation that some of them have feet of clay, with the designer, Wayne Hemmingway, ‘exposed’ for making use of unpaid interns.

Freeman presumably sees no contradiction between his personal fortune and backing a redistributive Labour party – and probably regards media coverage to the contrary as a noxious invasion of his privacy.

Doubtless, business leaders seeing their motives traduced and financial affairs spread across the newspapers agree.


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We shouldn’t be surprised the Tories ‘phone a business friend’ but the timing shows they’re desperate

01/04/2015, 01:57:50 PM

There’s an air of inevitability about the publication of a letter from business leaders warning against a Labour government in today’s Daily Telegraph.

The Tories can always count on a swathe of blue chip executives to back their cause. (Presumably self-interest plays a part too, as the signatories are classic targets of Labour’s 50p top rate and the mansion tax).

There is is no argument that letters like this work. They are simple to put together, get broadcast follow-up and help frame the day’s coverage. They matter because the grand fromages of the business world represent an important barometer of credibility for any party.

Yet as a tactic, the business leader round-robin was more counter-intuitive – and seemed more effective – when Labour did it in previous elections.

And the timing of today’s letter feels like a reactive move by the Tories – as though party strategists had this pencilled-in for later in the campaign.

To have real purchase, publishing a list of business endorsers nearer to polling day would surely be more effective; showing momentum behind the Tory campaign and contrasting that with Labour’s failure to convince business about its fitness to govern.

Throwing it in during the first week feels like the waste of a valuable asset. Like when contestants on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ phone a friend on one of the easy questions.

As ever in politics, when someone does something unexpected, it’s because they are rattled.

Could it be that Labour’s efforts this week to burnish their business credentials, contrasting the Tories’ pledge of an in/out referendum on the EU with Labour’s solid, if unfashionable, pro-European-ness, have spooked Tory high command?

After all, this is one of the few areas where the Tories “competence versus chaos” line reverses in Labour’s favour.

As David Cameron limbers up for the seven-way leaders’ debate, (after his uncertain performance against Paxman) he needs to project calm, statesmanlike competence. To show that he is a safe bet.

Does he need to wheel out his pin-striped pals this early in the campaign to get that message across?

Perhaps he does.

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