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by GK Strategy 4th January, 2015

Claiming the Narrative

This new majority Conservative Government have certainly hit the ground running, with new faces at the Cabinet table and 26 Bills in the Queens Speech signalling new energy and momentum. We are now a long way away from the policy inertia we witnessed under the long slow death of the coalition.

A Government with both a majority and energy needs a Parliament and an Opposition to keep it in check – not just to scrutinise policy, but to challenge the narrative too. The failure of Labour to challenge the Conservative message on the economy in the early days after the 2010 election is arguably the key in understanding what led to Labour’s poor 2015 performance.

This time round it is rather harder for the Conservatives to define a narrative in the same way, but we hear repeatedly about their long term economic plan as if we need to be constantly reminded about their economic competence. Herein starts the battle for the 2020 General Election.

We all know that message is key: how you frame your policy proposals is just as important as the proposals themselves. But the success of the Conservatives in driving home a simple message about Labour’s failure and their competence has framed not just a debate, but an entire political generation. It has been an impressive feat to witness.

As we look ahead, there is much that is challenging for this Government. Governing with a small majority; a divisive two year debate about our future in Europe; continued austerity with difficult decisions to be made cuts welfare spending; an NHS under huge pressure; a radical political shift in Scotland, with the rise of separatism; and the promise of a new constitutional settlement to see devolution of power from the centre.

Will all of this provide too much of a distraction, or will it confuse the message? To avoid such an outcome, the Conservatives will need to keep their heads and continue to reiterate their economic competence. Meanwhile the Labour party needs to get its collective head out of its leadership battles and back in the political game. Only if they reclaim the narrative can they win in 2020.

Let battle commence!

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