Labour certainly had the upper hand during the two weeks of the election campaign before this one, but there has been a shift in the fortunes of the parties over the last few days.
This was supposed to be Labour’s NHS week. It is the party’s strongest topic: one which voters put towards the top of the priority list and one on which Miliband’s party does relatively well in the polls. But we haven’t talked about the NHS at all this week. Instead, another three letter acronym has dominated the news agenda: SNP.
The Tory campaign has succeeded in pushing a potential alliance between Labour and the Scottish Nationalists to the forefront of the minds of English voters. Miliband has been unable to successfully stop a ‘deal’ from being talked about, simply because the only feasible way he will be able to lead a government is with support from Sturgeon and Salmond on a vote by vote basis.
Today the Labour leader tried to change the subject by talking about foreign policy. He should be commended for being the first party leader during this election campaign to talk about Britain’s international role. Regrettably it has been the issue most ignored by politicians.
Yet the move backfired, with all the questions from the broadcasters focussing on a gaffe by Miliband’s team, appearing to blame the PM for the deaths of migrants. “Miliband in Dead Migrant Storm” is not a headline he would ever have expected to see, but that is the front page of the Evening Standard tonight.
Too much of this week has been spent talking about things Labour don’t want to be talking about: mainly the SNP but also today’s gaffe. That means the Tories win the week, their first real success of the campaign so far.