If Miliband got it right, Cameron would be finished

John Rentoul

bush no new taxes 300x226 If Miliband got it right, Cameron would be finishedA bit slow getting to the article in yesterday’s Times (pay wall) by Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove’s brilliant former special adviser. He says he recently conducted focus groups in marginal constituencies with people who voted Conservative in 2010 but who were unlikely to do so next year. This research was for Business for Britain, the lobby for renegotiated terms of EU membership, and the findings on that subject are interesting:

If there were to be a renegotiation, the two things they most want are “control of immigration” and “send less money”. If the EU remains in control of immigration, renegotiation would be seen as a failure and, having raised false hopes, would make people more likely to vote “out”. While the status quo in a referendum usually has a structural advantage, in an EU referendum this advantage could be lost as the “out” campaign could say “this is your chance to change immigration policy”.

Cameron has already accepted that his renegotiation is not going to affect the free movement of EU workers. He doesn’t say it like that, of course: he says he wants to restrict benefits for new arrivals and to delay the right to free movement for new countries that join the EU.

Cummings’s conclusions are interesting, too, asserted with his usual arrogance:

If Ed Miliband hires a proper chief of staff and campaigns on the message, “I won’t put up your taxes and you can’t afford another five years of Cameron so vote for change”, David Cameron is finished.

Fortunately for the Tories, Miliband cannot campaign on that message because he has already promised to put the top rate of income tax back up to 50p in the pound from 45p.

Update (Monday 30 June): Cummings’s focus-group report for Business for Britain is here.

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  • mightymark

    Enjoy – it’s probably too expensive for me!

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