Positive/negative campaigning

Political parties have choices in the run up to elections. They have to balance the mix of different sets of messages:

  • celebrating past successes;
  • selling their vision;
  • denigrating their opponents.

While local parties often start off election season talking about running positive campaigns, it feels inevitable that they’ll all be provoked into name calling and angry exchanges with their nearest competitors as the weeks go by.

And with 48 hours to go before polling, they may even resort to dirty tricks like erecting new posters that put a questionable spin on the local politic status, leaving other parties without any time to respond.

Politics can be a dirty game!

This morning, Tom Elliott delivered the latest of his early morning breakfast briefings, this time in the Argyle Business Centre off the Shankill Road. Without revealing the precise details of how the UUP ministers would vote in the budget debate today, he focussed on the DUP and SF’s approach to the budget, reiterating his “game changing” call for a programme for government to be settled before d’Hondt is run.

From the extracts below from a draft of his speech, I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about the campaigning approach that the UUP seem to be taking from the outset.

Meanwhile, Peter Robinson’s Double-Jobbing, Double-Speaking Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, blames it all on Conservative cuts, and tries to lump us in with them.

This is not about Conservative cuts. This is about Labour overspends. Labour-DUP overspends. Go ask the DUP when they warned Gordon Brown he was bankrupting the United Kingdom.

The Labour Government borrowed one pound in every four they spent on our behalf, and the DUP did not raise a hand to stop them. One pound in four borrowed. Think about that. Could you get away with that? …

The reality is the voters will soon have the opportunity to have their say. To choose between Double-Jobbing, Double-Speaking Sammy, and the Ulster Unionist Party, who even the DUP acknowledge were honest on the doorsteps last May in warning Government spending was out of control. …

When they were over in London, the DUP supported the Coalition Government’s Programme for Government with their votes at Westminster. Yet back here in Belfast, they accuse us of Conservative-Unionist cuts. That is the sort of Double-Jobbing Double-Speak that has turned the closing days of this Assembly into a shambles.