The Labour Party has declared the general election should be fought “on issues rather than personalities” and said it will lead the way by not using any pictures of David Cameron in its campaign posters.
In a memo to party members, widely reported in the media, Douglas Alexander, Labour’s chair of election strategy, declared: “We?ll focus our campaign on issues not personalities – we won?t run any billboard posters with pictures of David Cameron on them.”
It’s easy to see why Labour would want everybody to play fair because while this change of heart is good news for those who want politicians to start acting their age, it also appear a preemptive attempt to address the issue of Ed Miliband’s public image, arguably Labour’s weakest and most exposed vulnerability.
Labour certainly weren’t shy when it came to putting David Cameron on posters during the last campaign – even if one ill-judged effort backfired. But it’s amazing what having a leader with the lowest approval rating and a tendency towards PR gaffes, uncomfortable interviews and unfortunate photo opportunities can do for the sudden realisation that politics should be about policies and substance, not personalities and style.
As PR tactics go it’s probably worth a try. It may come from the ‘Making the best of a bad situation’ section of the PR handbook but it does at least put the ball in the Conservatives’ court and challenges them to keep the campaign clean or risk looking petty if they crack on and seek to further undermine Miliband with personal attacks.
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