How Brown could still be laughing all the way back to Downing Street

The polls suggest that the Prime Minister is doomed. So what can he do to turn it around? We asked the experts


Go for the economy

Peter Kellner, President, YouGov polling organisation

Principally, Gordon Brown has got to win the economic argument. Labour was miles behind when the country went into recession. It started to close the gap, and almost drew level on the argument about who was the more competent to run the economy, but the gap has widened since the Budget. Really it's all summed up in the old saying "It's the economy, stupid", but that adage is doubly true in today's financial climate. In the last three elections, the economy was one issue among others, but this time it is absolutely predominant. Labour have got to deprive the Tories of their reputation for economic competence.

On national insurance, they need to persuade people that the Conservatives' sums do not add up. And one thing they need is more third-party endorsements. Last week, they were doubly damaged – first when the Conservatives announced that they would reverse Labour's proposed increase in national insurance, and then when that was followed by endorsements for the Conservatives by business leaders. So far I have not heard any third-party endorsement for Labour except from business leaders already associated with the party, such as Alan Sugar.


Stick to your guns

Lance Price, Commentator and former Downing Street spin doctor

There is no point in Gordon Brown trying to reinvent himself, or the Labour Party, at this late stage. What people think about Gordon Brown is already factored into their voting intentions, and if he tries to be anyone other than who he is, that will come across as phoney.

They have got to convince people that Labour values remain the same, and that those values are still relevant, and they have got to campaign remorselessly on the economy. They must convince people that Labour understands the need to carry on supporting the economy until it is safe to start addressing the deficit head on.

They cannot back down from the position they have taken on national insurance, which has been a superficial vote winner for the Conservatives, but if Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling remain focused, and don't zig zag, they should be able to undermine the credibility of George Osborne as someone who does zig zag and is without the experience – or the conviction, or the understanding of the economy – that is required of a Chancellor.

Target the banks

Neal Lawson, Chairman, Compass, left-wing pressure group

People want policies that will make a difference to their lives. Gordon Brown will go into the election with Labour trailing the Tories by around 10 per cent. Election campaigns rarely change such leads, unless the party trailing does something to completely change the terms of debate for the campaign. These are tough times caused by irresponsibility at the top of big corporations. Labour should promise to make the banks safe by separating investment banks from services banks. They should introduce a "Tobin tax" on bank transactions, set up a high-pay commission to tackle excessive pay, cap interest rates on unsecured loans, increase the minimum wage, and close the gender pay gap. They should promise to holding a binding referendum on electoral reform, scrap Trident and use the money saved to provide specialised health cover and affordable housing for service personnel, tax junk mail, ban advertising aimed at children, replace student top-up fees with a graduate tax, and renationalise the railways. There is nothing for Labour to be scared of. It will be timidity not bravery that will stop Labour beating the Tories.

Show some humility

Claire Rayner, Agony aunt

I am on the Prime Minister's commission for mid-wifery and have met Gordon Brown several times. He looks tired – well, he is entitled to be that – but he was always sensible. I have got a lot of time for him.

Politics now is like a maelstrom. You don't know where you are. In some ways that is huge fun, but it can be like watching idiots fighting.

I used to support Labour. I never stopped being Labour; it just stopped being me, if you follow me. It was after they won that huge majority in 1997, and Tony Blair turned himself into a demigod. So I think Gordon Brown should be a bit humble. He should make overtures to the Liberal Democrats, because my dream team would be Brown in No 10 and Vince Cable in No 11. I think Gordon Brown should be absolutely straightforward. I don't think he should respond to silly attacks, but should stand stand firm for what he is and what he believes in.

Relax on TV

Robert Worcester, Founder, MORI polling organisation

We still haven't heard the end of the distillation of people's thoughts in the City about the Budget. If the City believes that Brown, and particularly Darling, have got something going for them, they could think that it is better to hang onto Labour.

The next big hurdle is 15 April, the first set of television debates. David Cameron is expected to do brilliantly; Gordon Brown is expected to do badly. So Cameron has a lot to lose. It's up to him to lose the debate and if Brown relaxes, is as witty and quick and doesn't come down with a clunking fist, if he can play that game through four and a half hours of debate, he'll do very well – and that could make the difference.

Finally there are the turnouts, and that's the big thing for Labour. They need to get their troops out. At 75 per cent, Labour would have a majority. Now we had 75 per cent turnout, plus or minus 3 per cent, between 1945 and 1992.

Highlight Tory cuts

Justin Fisher, Professor of Political Science at Brunel University

One of the things that damaged the Conservatives initially in January, when they were in a very strong position, was their proposal to make severe cuts fairly shortly after the election. This helped spark the Labour revival. The thing for Labour to do would be to talk about cuts that most people would feel. Cuts to universities, for example, would only affect those working for and at universities. Cuts in schools and healthcare-spending are the sorts of things that might spark more interest.

For the Conservatives it's an uphill task now. They have weathered the storm recently without doing a great deal. The next month will concentrate the mind. Up to now, the Conservatives have been very good at not putting their foot in it too badly.

We will have to see how the Chris Grayling saga plays out. If David Cameron sacks the shadow Home Secretary, the Tories will sink into turmoil. The best that Cameron can do is to distance himself from Grayling.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£70 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Learning Support Assistants n...

Teachers required for Cambridge Primary positions Jan 2015

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in Cambridge...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain