fbpx

The Battle of the Negative Campaigns

The last eighteen months should surely have prepared us for what will be a brutalising election campaign, as the Conservatives and Labour joust over the latter’s double-digit opinion poll lead. 
 
Negative campaigning has featured prominently ever since the start of partygate and Boris Johnson’s attacks on Keir Starmer for what he said was his failure to prosecute high-profile criminals when he was the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Conservatives under Rishi Sunak have gone on to portray the Labour leader as a luvvy lawyer who fought to keep ‘foreign crooks’ in the UK, refused to stop small boat crossings and allowed his energy policy to be written by Just Stop Oil.  

Labour have also taken out a series of bold attack adverts on Sunak, an unusually proactive strategy which has prompted a backlash.  Accusing the prime minister of not supporting the jailing of child abusers and trying to ensure he is associated with the sleaze and scandals which engulfed Johnson after the pandemic, they have gone beyond simply saying his party crashed the economy.
 
It is a deliberate strategy. In Starmer’s very first speech this year, he vowed to “meet fire with fire”, arguing that negative campaigning was justified because the “stakes at this election are so high for working people”. In doing so he signalled that his party would be pragmatic about doing what is necessary to win power.  Labour is both on the attack and ready to rebut any incoming – and has a bespoke department at campaign HQ to prove it – while pivoting between a positive and a ‘change’ narrative.

What could a bruising election campaign look like? Labour strategists have been preparing for Keir Starmer’s career at the Crown Prosecution Service to be attacked after Conservative officials admitted they have been combing through the Labour leader’s time at the CPS. 


The attempts to portray Labour’s ‘Green Prosperity Plan’ as ‘same old Labour, can’t be trusted on the economy’, have already created internal Labour jitters and explain the scaling back of the £28 billion a year commitment. The Conservatives have augmented this with attacks on Labour’s policy on North Sea oil and gas, seeking to exploit a long-standing perception of the party as an economic risk that threatens 200,000 jobs in the industry. 


We must also expect the opposing parties to weaponise Starmer’s prior association with Jeremy Corbyn and repeat the accusation that he cannot be trusted to deliver on what he promises, given the policy changes made throughout his leadership. 
 
Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan “it’s the economy stupid” is firmly in the minds of strategists in both the governing and opposition parties, as they seek to establish themselves as the ones to be trusted with the public purse.  The battle of the economic ‘black hole’ in policy commitments is already underway after the Chancellor published a dossier of what he said were Labour’s £38.5 billion of unfunded policy pledges. Labour will seek to exploit the Conservatives’ economic record of the last 14 years, binding Rishi Sunak to his own record as Chancellor and to Liz Truss’ record as Prime Minister. 
 
History shows us that in recent general election campaigns, the Conservatives have won the battle of negative campaigning with Labour struggling to adapt. David Cameron and George Osborne’s perpetuation of the idea that Labour had caused the global financial crisis and their depiction of Ed Miliband as being in the pocket of the SNP lived long in the memory of voters. This time though, Labour has potent ammunition: a damaged economy, sleaze, stagnant public services and record levels of taxation.  That and a campaign machine willing to push through any internal membership concerns about their approach. 
 
Negative campaigning does not always work, as the Conservative ‘New Labour, New Danger’ approach demonstrated in 1997, but where it exploits an existing chink in a party’s armoury, it can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Contact ARDEN

For press enquiries please contact press@ardenstrategies.com. For all other enquiries please fill out the form below, and we will be in touch shortly.

By providing your information, you are agreeing that we can use it to contact you. For more information please see our privacy policy.

book an event

All of the events listed below will take place in our lounge on Level 2 of the ECL (next to the entrance to the link bridge) unless stated otherwise in the event description. 

Please note that as our lounge is inside the secure zone and you need a conference pass to attend these events. 

By providing your information, you are agreeing that we can use it to contact you. For more information please see our privacy policy.

book a table

We have a limited number of two and four person tables available to reserve in our lounge. Our conference lounge is the most prestigious lounge at Labour Party Conference venue, and is the ideal space for your informal meetings.

If you would like to reserve a table in our lounge, please use the booking form below.

Please note that due to high demand for this space, bookings are limited to one table per person per day. If you would like to make additional reservations please contact your account manager or email labourdirectorate@ardenstrategies.com

By providing your information, you are agreeing that we can use it to contact you. For more information please see our privacy policy.

book a table

We have a limited number of two and four person tables available to reserve in our lounge. Our conference lounge is the most prestigious lounge at Labour Party Conference venue, and is the ideal space for your informal meetings.

Please note that due to high demand for this space, bookings are limited to one table per person per day. If you would like to make additional reservations please contact your account manager or email labourdirectorate@ardenstrategies.com

By providing your information, you are agreeing that we can use it to contact you. For more information please see our privacy policy.