Earlier this week I highlighted how Nick Clegg’s speech laying out the foundations of the Liberal Democrat general election manifesto was based around four steps in which health and crime did not feature. Those two policy areas have been dominant in the party’s campaigning over the previous three general elections – in particular in marginal seats.
However, whilst the party seems to be at least dallying with downplaying the emphasis on those two issues from the key national headlines, Labour is headed in the opposite direction. Labour’s 1997 five pledges included one each on health and crime, whilst their likely pledges this time round will include two on health and one on crime.
The economy clearly needs to – and is – featuring far more in the party’s campaigning than in the past, but unless there is a clearer and higher profile story about how the party will improve public services the party’s national message won’t be hitting the right notes with the electorate.
How the party’s manifesto is shaping up in that respect is something I’ll return to shortly with an update on the manifesto process.