Shapps has the summer all to himself as he previews Tories' 2015 campaign

Shapps has the summer all to himself
Shapps has the summer all to himself
Ian Dunt By

Grant Shapps offered a sneak preview of the Tories' 2015 general election campaign today, with a keynote speech saying Labour is "willing the country to fail".

In a clear sign the Tories will focus their campaign on highly negative attacks on Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, the Conservative chairman relentlessly concentrated his fire on Labour's perceived areas of weakness: welfare, immigration and the economy.

"You could almost see the palpable sense of disappointment for Ed Balls just last week through gritted teeth he acknowledged stronger growth," he said at the Police Exchange event.

"We can see a vision of this country beyond the boom and bust of Brown, a future where we continue to generate employment."


He added: "While we’ve been working to get Britain back on track, Labour are on the wrong side of every argument.

"They said there’d been a double-dip recession. There wasn't. They said the private sector wouldn’t create jobs, meaning a million more unemployed by now. They were wrong: private sector employment is at an all-time high."

The speech strongly suggests that the Tories will focus relentlessly on the perceived failings of the Miliband/Balls team, rather than defend their own record in government, during the general election.

Shapps will paint a damning portrait of what would happen to Britain if Labour returned to power.

"In government, the deficit quickly begins to grow again, foreign investors soon take fright, and mortgage rates start to rise," he predicted.

"In opposition, Labour opposed all the changes to tighten border controls. They've even proposed going further – planning a higher target for immigration.

"So back in government, immigration goes up, bringing new pressure to our public services, and fresh strains on health, housing and education."

Shapps has considerable freedom to make his case over the empty summer period.

Labour has surprised political observers by being almost entirely absent since recess began.

Apart from Stella Creasy campaigning on the treatment of women online and Andy Burnham criticising the 111 NHS row, there have been few appearances by opposition figures.

The party's absence comes despite further evidence of a decline in its poll lead.

A ComRes poll for the Independent showed the opposition's lead has declined to just three points.

It put Labour on 37%, up one, the Tories on 34%, up four, Ukip on 12%, down two, and the Liberal Democrats unchanged on ten per cent.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents said they would rather see an outright Tory or Labour majority in 2015 rather than another coalition, although the close nature of the polls suggests they may be disappointed.

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