The centre ground strategy is an old idea much approved of by media types like Portillo, which hasn't born much fruit for Cameron.
The idea was to target the centre i.e. nick Lib Dem voters and ignore the UKIP tendency, and hey presto, we'd be the new Blairlike centre party just as Brown lurched left.
PROBLEM 1. Does anyone actually know what left and right wing means in any detail?
PROBLEM 2. The Lib Dem vote is bombing, but the ones leaving the Lib Dems are not going the Conservative way. They must be going elsewhere.
PROBLEM 3. The big increase in voter intentions has consistently been to the minor parties - UKIP, BNP, Nationals and GREEN. Up from 8% to 14/16%. Lib Dem are down from 22 to 14% in the same period. labour and Conservative are not moving all that much overall.
All the traffic is in fact moving away from the 'centre ground', and towards parties that care about particular issues.
The Cameron centre ground sum was constructed from the idea that Conservative voters had nowhere else to go, and so the 'rightwing' could be safely ignored. All the advances would be made on the 'left' flank. If any Lib Dem have in fact been attracted to vote Conservative, an equivalent number must have deserted to the minors from inside the party. As an electoral strategy, the centre ground plan has not been profitable, and should no longer dominate Cameron's thinking.
The centre ground strategy has had the unintended consequence of demotivating almost all Conservative activists, and given the public the impression that Conservatives are far to the right of Cameron.
As Cameron has tried wearing Lib Dem clothes, it has brought a series of howls from his own party's ranks which have made the party seem more extreme. These howls were being inetntionally whipped up it seemed, to create the impression that the party was moving its policies a long way from where they were before.
Blair played the centre ground strategy to perfection, but the economy was doing so well no one really cared about policy details in 2001 or 2005. Interest rates are now rising fast as are prices and anxiety about world events. The times have moved on.
Posted by: tapestry | June 18, 2007 on Conservative Home
The one advantage of the centre ground strategy for Cameron was that it was a media approved strategy so it enabled him to get support from the Guardian and the Observer for example, and Channel 4 and other TV, while he was being pilloried in The Telelgraph. He needed to expand the party's media presence on gaining the leadership, and help the Conservative brand from being seen as the equivalent as social criminality! It has worked as a media strategy, but not as a psephological strategy.
COMMENTS - Thanks Praguetory. I canot post a comment myself for some reason. A virus maybe?