James Forsyth

Getting ahead of the pitchforks

Getting ahead of the pitchforks
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As this recession drags on, I suspect that three groups—apart from the finance figures who behaved so recklessly—will bear the brunt of public anger: corporations and individuals who avoid tax, those who abuse the welfare state and those public servants who take advantage of their position to unfairly enrich themselves and their families. The politician who can learn how to harness this anger would show the electorate that they are on the voters’ side.  

The way to make this message cut through would be to go against type. So, for example, Cameron should emphasise that he’ll clamp down on tax avoidance rather than majoring on welfare abuse. (Naturally, Labour should do this the other way around)  The obvious, and probably insurmountable, difficulty with this approach is that the tax status of at least one key Tory figure is uncertain. Just to compound the problem, the press would have a field day going through the list of Tory donors to find those who didn’t match up to the new policy.

 What should worry the Tories, though, is that a post-defeat Labour party might pick up this banner; it is quite easy to image either James Purnell or Jon Cruddas adopting this message. The Tories, who expect —as one told Matt—to ‘be the most unpopular government in memory by the end of our first six months’, would face a real problem if the Labour opposition tapped into recession rage. The party would be well advised to do everything it can to get there first.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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