The days are dwindling down as May 7th draws ever closer. Right now, things are looking ever more uncertain. Labour and the Conservatives are constantly neck and neck in the polls, the Liberal Democrats continue to shred numbers, UKIP continue to steal them, and the SNP look ever more set to hold the balance of power when the dust settles. So these parties must be constantly wondering what they must do to ensure a strong result this election. Well given my amateur knowledge on politics, media, and people’s perceptions and voting intentions, I can give some warm advice as to what they need to do, and what to avoid when the campaigning really hits home.
The last five years have been an up and down period for David Cameron. Having highs such as multiple extensions to the royal family and the London Olympic Games, but dealing with major challenges such as a grim economy, a difficult Europe, and what was almost the separation of Britain and Scotland. Add the fact that he never actually won the 2010 general election, and has been scraping a coalition government ever since. But could this be the election Cameron can finally grab that majority?
What They Need To Do: The majority of Conservative vote lies in England, and that is where Cameron would need to do the most of his campaigning. The Tories need to appeal to a mix of voters and provide a positive campaign that gives voters the idea that the next five years will be less challenging than the five we’ve just been in. Cameron will need to focus on the key issues that voters want answers on: Europe, Immagration, Housing, and The Economy.
What To Avoid: Internal squabbling and bad news on the economy is something Cameron does not need. If this occurs, then Labour will have all the fuel they need to push down the vote for the Tories and discredit Cameron. They should try to keep a positive momentum throughout the campaign, and avoid a Gordon Brown like PR disaster that ultimately finished any chances of him winning. I’d also think having a small eye on Boris is smart, as there is no idea what he could end up doing when the media are on his watch.
It was a strong start for Ed Milliband when winning his somewhat controversial leadership election in 2015. He built a strong lead over the following 18 months, with polling predicting a 97 style Landslide come 2015. But 2013 came along and Milliband’s lead began to shrink, in which he now finds himself barely above The Tories in opinion polls, and rapidly losing support in the North. These next four months will be the most important he will ever have as a politician. So what can he and Labour as a whole do?
What They Need To Do: The key to victory lies in one area of the country: Scotland. Its crucial for Labour to rebuild as much support in Scotland as possible. Failure to do so will see Milliband kiss goodbye his majority, and make his chances of becoming Prime Minister more challenging. If he does take Scotland seriously, then you will see a lot of his Scottish talent maximise across the country to spread the positive Labour message. Murphy will cover the central belt, Darling in Edinburgh, Brown in the North, and Milliband himself covering Glasgow on what will be an exhausting tour for him. That’s one thing to bear in mind; Ed will have the most exhausting and largest run around when it comes to campaigning. He’ll have the business in Scotland, as well as stealing votes in the south, keeping atop on London votes, keeping the north vote high, and stopping the Tories growing in the likes of Wales. There is a mixture of defending and obtaining seats in what will be the most challenging and unpredictable of elections for Labour to date. He’ll need to use his cabinet wisely on campaigning if to achieve a majority.
What To Avoid: What Gordon Brown fell victim to last year and that is bad PR. The worst has likely come and gone for Milliband with sandwich gate slowly fading away. Its important that he keeps a strong PR these next four months, and obtains a friendly and approachable personality when dealing with the electorate. Too much negativity is likely to backfire on the party, so giving clear solutions to major issues is what will bring back voters in large blocks.
Out of the three main parties, The Liberal Democrats have suffered the worst punishment in the last five years in terms of popular vote. Losing election after election with major drops in votes and support, This is the election that will see just how badly the electorate really want to punish the party for entering coalition with The Tories. Nick Clegg’s future in parliament looks uncertain, and no Lib Dem MP really knows if they’ll have a job come May 8th. But are the party still crucial players in British politics?
What They Need To Do: The Lib Dems have a simple task in this election: Defend seats. Its extremely unlikely that Nick Clegg will make any gains given the negative run he has had as Deputy PM. He will lose seats, but only his campaign and tactics, and how the public responds, will determine how heavy the blow is. The Lib Dems will no doubt focus on the positives of the coalition, and drift away from unpopular moves such as Tuition Fees for example. Its also important that the Lib Dems utalise as much of their top talent as possible around the country, especially in Scotland where the likes of Danny Alexander & Jo Swinson are extremely vulnerable. Whatever the case, its not going to be easy.
What To Avoid: Repeat after me “Bad PR”. Only with Clegg, Bad PR will kill his campaign stone dead. There are seats he currently holds, which judging by opinion polls, he only holds by a number of points. Keeping those seats relies on a strong and confident campaign which will determine whether or not he holds the keys to another coalition. An embarrassing or damaging gaffe will finish not only Clegg’s career, but perhaps the party as a whole.
We can’t talk about the last five years in British politics without mentioning UKIP. The party has enjoyed an incredible surge in polls, and will be one of the two new parties that will make this election the most exciting and unpredictable election in decades. Whilst Farage has attracted both positive and negative press between elections, there’s no denying that he’s made UKIP a new beast in the political arena, and this upcoming general election is where we will really see how much support UKIP have drawn in the last three years, and whether it’s a party with any longevity. Is UKIP about to make political history?
What They Need To Do: Here’s a trick UKIP could mobilse in this election: Social Media. Search UKIP into youtube, and you see a strong growing support in the comments section whenever a mere mention of Nigel Farage pops up. That is something that UKIP must get to grips with if it wants any chance of grabbing the young vote. It also needs to build around more UKIP candidates than just Farage. When it comes to debates and UKIP gets a place, the party should not just automatically go to Farage. Look at experts in the party and anyone with a strong background in an important profession (Education, Europe, etc). UKIP must also focus on the issues important to the electorate. Europe & Immigration they will have no problem with. The economy on the other hand will be much more challenging to grasp, so here’s hoping the party have the right people to fight that ground.
What To Avoid: Whilst UKIP has brought up a large number of support, its also gathered a large number of hatred too. It hasn’t helped that individual members of UKIP come out with controversial comments about Women, Homosexuals, and Immigrants over the years. Its damaging, and as such has made parts of the country immune to the UKIP syringe. UKIP would want to avoid anymore of this from now till May 7th, as enemies of the party will use this to their advantage, and pull away any UKIP target seats from them.
2010 finally saw the breakthrough The Green Party had long waited for. Leader Caroline Lucas finally won a parliamentary seat in Brighton Pavilion, and set upon making herself useful in Westminster. This small success continued in 2011 when The Scottish Green Party retrained their two seats in Holyrood, and allied themselves with the SNP to campaign for Scottish independence. A small surprise in 2012 saw Lucas step down as leader, and saw Australia’s Natalie Bennett become the new leader. Fast forward a few years forward and Green support is slowly but surely growing, adding more uncertainly on the overall result on this election. Are the Green Party looking at two seats this election?
What They Need To Do: Most of the Green support in the last election came from the South of England of all places. That’s where the majority of Green campaigning should be based. Built around the support the party has won in council elections and with luck, a second seat might emerge. Natalie Bennett has not had much media exposure since her leadership started, so its important that the party push her as much as possible towards voters & the press. The voters most likely to drift to the Green party are dissatisfied voters of Labour. Those are the voters The Greens will go for, as well as left wing voters in England, who haven’t moved towards Labour or any other minor party. Lastly, its important that they work with the Scottish and Northern Irish Greens to give a clear message towards the entire country, without any hint of disagreement in the slightest.
What To Avoid: Its not really bad PR the Greens need to avoid; it’s the idea of no PR at all. The reason that the Greens have never caught on in British politics is the lack of interest from the British press at large. Too many parties to focus on may see The Greens fade away from the spotlight altogether. However they do have one unlikely ally in all of this: David Cameron.
If any political party has had the best five years since the last election, it’s the SNP. Despite not making a single gain in the last election, Alex Salmond went on to lead the party to a historic majority at the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, thereby having the mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. Another successful council election in 2012 saw his chances increase. Unfortunately that referendum was a disappointing defeat, with a 55-45 percent result, and Alex Salmond resigning in the process. But the consolation prize couldn’t be better. Her deputy Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister of Scotland, overseeing a record rise of party membership to over 90,000, as well as record opinion poll scores of over 50 percent that predict the SNP wiping out Labour in Scotland in four months time. But will this become a reality?
What They Need To Do: An important asset in this election will be Stewart Hosie. As the Deputy Leader of the SNP, this will be his first big chance to play a crucial role in the SNP’s election success. He will return to Westminster with more MPs and will be one of the key individuals fighting for more powers to Holyrood. The campaign the SNP showcase must be positive, and touch ordinary voters across the country. They have past experience in government to call back on, and have new members to help in their bid to reach out to voters. All the eggs are very much in their basket.
What To Avoid: I do have one concern: Alex Salmond. I have a sneaky suspicion the media will turn to him in the campaign. If Salmond returns to Westminster, I really hope he takes a backseat and lets Hosie lead the way. He cannot undermine his deputy leader when he’s still yet to be taken seriously as a senior member of the party. The best thing for him is to campaign up north, and leave the hard work to Hosie & Sturgeon and recognise that the SNP is moving on, and so should he.
By Connor Macgregor, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.