'A new policy on immigration and benefits, every week'

Lynton Crosby is advising the Conservative party on its electoral strategy.  Several newspapers and blogs this morning have reported, with some bemused scepticism, this from the Mail on Sunday:

Mr Crosby is said to have given orders that the party must produce ‘a new policy to curb immigrants and benefits’ every week.

This is poisonous, but I’m going to leave that aside for the while, and consider the issue solely from the perspective of the Conservative party.  This approach hasn’t worked in previous elections, notably the 2005 election where Crosby advised a campaign led by Michael Howard. It is bad electoral politics: it preaches to the converted, it alienates millions of others, and it does not offer any advantage to potential voters who aren’t already persuaded.

More simply, this is no way to make policy.  It has to lead to a flurry of competing proposals – scores of them, if this carries on for the next year.   It has to be done in a hurry, which means that mistakes will be made about facts, figures and assessments of impact- it’s happened repeatedly with policies like the benefits cap or Housing Benefit, and most recently with the farcical misrepresentaton of Romanian and Bulgarian immigration.   More is worse, as the Conservatives would have been keen to advise us in the days when there were some conservatives in the party.  A ‘policy a week’ is not a policy at all.


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