Sometimes the best communication is not what you do say, but what you don’t say. This lesson has clearly not been lost on the Prime Minister or her election chief, Sir Lynton Crosby.
Usually, election campaigns kick off wth a race to frame the debate and define your opponents. It’s low tax versus tax and spend. Labour isn’t working. New Labour, new Britain. Things can only get better. There is a rush of activity; battles buses hit the road and the news is dominated by political leaders making speeches, kissing babies and donning hard hats and hi-vis jackets. All off this typical election fayre will surely follow but these first few days have been unlike most campaigns.
The Tories, led by the Prime Minister, is in the driving seat in prompting this election and in their position in the polls but they have taken a low key approach to hitting the road. They have a slogan; asking us to choose between the stability and leadership offered by Theresa May and the coalition of chaos offered by Mr Corbyn and his potential “progressive” allies in the Lib Dems, SNP and Greens but a fascinatingly quiet communication strategy.
That strategy is based on allowing Labour to do all the running and all the talking – to dominate the news and to talk itself into trouble and the Tories into the arms of a grateful electoral. Rather like the old adage that those who are explaining are losing, the Tories believe that if Labour is talking it is losing. So far in the first few days, we’ve had Labour confusion over a second referendum, the renewal of Trident, the benefits of smaller class sizes in schools, booing and heckling female reporters at Corbyn events and the car crash of all car crash interviews provided by Dawn Butler MP. The strategy appears to be working.
The early campaign polls shows an average Tory lead of 20 points and no signs that the “rigging democracy” claim made by Labour over the calling of the election is having any negative effect on the polls or the decision of the Prime Minister not to take part in television debates. Whether this approach will be sustained throughout the campaign only time will tell. There is a long way to go, but so far, silence has been golden for the Tories.