James Forsyth

Labour embraces the Norma Major strategy

Labour embraces the Norma Major strategy
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Back in September 1996, the Tories sent Norma Major onto the campaign trail. John Major said that his wife had been his “secret weapon for the past 26 years" and declared “Norma has been accompanying me on tours like this for a very long time. But she now proposes to do that a good deal more in the future. I am delighted she is here. She is a very great asset to me first and then to the Conservative Party as a whole."

The thinking was that, while the country might be bored of the Tory party and the Prime Minister, they would listen to his appealingly normal wife. The party did receive a couple of good days press from the move. But in truth, the decision to major on Norma was a demonstration just how desperate and badly out of ideas the party was. No one was going to vote for a tired and discredited government just because the Prime Minister’s wife seemed quite nice.

Labour is now heading down the same route. Following Sarah Brown introducing her husband at last year’s conference, she’s now on Twitter. This suggests that she’ll be taking on more and more of a campaigning role.

It is no surprise that Labour want to push Sarah Brown out there; she’s not tainted by the mistakes of the past decade and comes across as both human and humble. But while I suspect the public will continue to feel quite warmly towards Sarah Brown, those feelings won’t be anywhere near enough to make voters forget why they want to vote her husband out.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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