Tories aim 'demon Blair' ads at the working class

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The Independent Online
Tory strategists are targeting the working-class voters who once brought Lady Thatcher to power but are now feared to be deserting in droves to Tony Blair, writes Paul Routledge.

Conservative Central Office insiders yesterday admitted that this refocusing of their election campaign on the social groups known as C1 and C2 lay behind the "demonic" images of the Labour leader in advertisements last week.

Brian Mawhinney, the Tory party chairman, who claims to understand the gut instincts of working people and trade unionists, personally approved the poster message before going on holiday to the US last week.

A senior Mawhinney aide said: "It is aimed at C1s and C2s, who came to us during the Thatcher years, and who maybe think that Blair is not very different from Thatcher, that he is giving an example of firm leadership."

Despite the switch of strategy, a poll today suggests that the gap between the Tories and Labour has widened. The NOP survey for the Sunday Times puts Labour on 51 per cent, three points up on last month, while the Conservatives slipped one point to 30 per cent. The Liberal Democrats were also one down at 15 per cent.

Tory Central Office strategists still believe many voters are not committed to either side and Labour's position could be undermined by attacking Tony Blair. A spokeswoman said: "There is that great body of people who are just disillusioned generally, and could go any way. And they will decide the election." Playing the C2 card, page 10

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