Lynton Crosby addressed the Conservative parliamentary party last night about the party’s messaging for the European elections. Amusingly, I hear he told those gathered to watch one of his powerpoint presentations that while Jesus only had 12 disciples, David Cameron has 305 to spread his message. Perhaps the next Downing Street wooing event will see the Prime Minister handing out loaves and fishes to his backbenchers. After a rather off-message week, the Conservatives need their MPs to get into line and start talking about that long-term economic plan today as George Osborne unveils his Budget.
One of the key words to look out for is ‘resilience’, which the Chancellor has already dropped into his tweets about the exciting new pound coin. The trick for on-message Tories is, as James explained in his Mail on Sunday column, to show that things are far from fine and dandy with the economy and there is still a good long way to go. Appearing to ‘bank’ the recovery now, as some colleagues of Osborne did fear around the time of the Autumn Statement, would not just look complacent but would also give voters the impression that it might be safe to turn to a Labour government in 2015.
The trick for Labour is to convince people that Osborne can’t be trusted, as this poster below shows. But that’s the easy bit: Labour has to convince voters that they can be trusted not just to point out the problems but to solve them too, and that’s a big leap.
There is still a rumour that there is going to be a surprise ‘biggie’ in the the Budget announcement later. The Sun has been briefed that this will be the Chancellor’s most blue-collar-friendly budget yet. But with limited room for giveaways, he’ll have to employ more magic than usual to produce a rabbit from his hat.