9 Apr 2015

No more non-doms: Tories change the conversation

The Tories tried today to fuse the “Ed Miliband” issue with the “Scottish issue” and used defence or Trident as the glue.

Their English focus groups suggest to them that in addition to voter concern about Ed Miliband (much reduced according to one poll out tonight and reducing in others) there is real “voter cut through” on fears of the SNP dictating terms to a future Labour minority government.

Labour’s convinced the Tories played this card today and with particularly graphic language because they didn’t like the “cut through” Ed Miliband was getting with his attack on non-doms.

It worked for the Tories in the sense that the language was so striking that it changed the political conversation.

Labour’s non-dom story fell away, even though according to YouGov’s regular tracker of “what have you heard that’s good or bad about Labour/Conservative?” question it was clear the non-dom issue had penetrated people’s consciousness.

One place it will have worked is here in Scotland.

Labour in Scotland does not want to spend a day protesting its support for Trident. That will only firm up Labour deserters in the SNP column and do nothing to win them back.

It’s an incidental benefit but an interesting one for the Tory approach.

Read more: the Trident debate in numbers

I spent today watching candidates knocking on doors and see no great change on the ground in Scotland.

Labour was thrilled it had got Nicola Sturgeon to commit to “full fiscal autonomy in 2016” in last night’s debate and were calling it “austerity max.” The very fact that sentence requires lengthy footnotes to unpack tells how tricky that coup will be to sell on the doorstep.

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