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Tories to shut up about immigration and talk about the economy instead

30 November 2014

11:23 AM

30 November 2014

11:23 AM

There is a simple political test for the autumn statement, does it make the economy Topic A again? The Tories’ election strategy relies on the economy being the dominant issue of the campaign. If it is not, it is very hard to see how Cameron and co can win.   The Tories want everything to be seen through the prism of the economy. Hence Osborne’s emphasis this morning that he can only put an extra £2 billion into the NHS because the economy is strong.   In recent months, immigration has supplanted the economy as voters’ top concern. This has been to Ukip—and not the Tories—benefit. This is why Cameron’s speech last Friday was designed to shut the issue down. As one minister close to him said to me afterwards, immigration is ‘never going to be a selling point’ for the Tories in 2015 (not something you can imagine a Tory saying even four years ago). Indeed, Downing Street is adamant that ‘‘The Prime Minister is very clear –that’s it on immigration, don’t expect him to say any more.’   Instead, the Tories aim to hammer home their new message, ‘Stay on course for prosperity’. The slogan is borrowed from the winning election campaign of the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, which was run by Lynton Crosby’s business partner Mark Textor.   But making the economy the central issue again will require more discipline than the Tories have shown in recent months, they will have to be prepared to stick to their message rather than trying to chase Ukip.


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