With just over four months until voters go to the polls on 7 May, the leaders of the two main parties are expected to start spending much more time talking to voters around the country instead of working from Westminster.
On Friday the prime minister is planning to launch his first campaign event of the year, and on Sunday he is expected to be interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. The Labour leader, meanwhile, is likely to start the year with a major speech early next week.
Both parties have established what they call their narratives for the election. The Conservatives intend to focus on their economic record, while Labour will promise to address the cost of living and reduce inequality. With the polls continuing to show a lead for Miliband, the Conservatives are expected to start bombarding the public with their political messages over the coming weeks.
The prime minister’s new year message continued the Tories’ familiar refrain of urging people “to stick to the plan, stay on course to prosperity, and keep doing the important, long-term work of securing a better future”. Cameron claimed there was good news on employment, lower taxes and a higher state pension, but warned that the global economy remained uncertain. “Britain has a choice,” he said, “between the competence that has got us this far, or the chaos of giving it up, going backwards and taking huge risks.”
In an article for the Daily Telegraph today, he writes that the Conservatives are not just improving the economy, but “changing British values” in favour of hard work.
Miliband’s message had a strongly positive tone, reflecting his intention to present his party as one of hope and change over the next few months.
“This is the season for new beginnings and hopes for the future,” he said. “And Britain is ready for a new beginning. Because I don’t have to tell you that all over our country today there are people working harder and harder, but standing still; families struggling with bills that are growing faster than their wages; young people taking on mountains of debt to get a proper education, only to find themselves with no job at the other end; and an NHS where people are waiting longer and longer to get the care they need.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. As this new year dawns, we have the chance to change direction; a chance to build a recovery for all of Britain … This year, we have the power to bring about the change working families all over Britain need. This isn’t about idle dreams or empty promises. It’s about a real, concrete plan: a plan for a recovery which reaches your kitchen table.”
Jim Murphy, the new Labour leader in Scotland, and his deputy, Kezia Dugdale, also released a new year message. However, their outtakes video, which shows their human side as they mess around, giggle and forget their lines, attracted more attention.
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