DAVID Cameron is faced with a knotty problem – how to demonise Ed Miliband as an arch left-winger without playing into the Labour leader’s hands?
Not so long ago, Labour’s communications team went out of their way to stop their leader being branded “Red” Ed by the newspapers.
But now they’ve backed off – because Mr Miliband’s “35% strategy” depends on him being seen as an arch left-winger to shore up his core vote.
To those 35%, he is a hero not a demon for promising to freeze energy prices, ban people from holding land and order firms to hire apprenticeships.
The Labour leader has rightly calculated that all he needs to win power in May 2015 is to shore up that core vote.
So wave after wave of attacks on “leftie” Ed from Cabinet ministers at next week’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester will play into Mr Miliband’s hands.
Especially as it will remind disgruntled, left-leaning LibDems that they have a new champion in favour of unprecedented state intervention in the market.
It’s good communications practice to define yourself against what you’re not.
Tony Blair turned this into an art form in 1997 – the future not the past, the many not the few, leadership not drift.
This works well when the thing you’re not is something that voters oppose.
But in this case, Mr Miliband wants to remind 35% of the voting public who tend to be left-wing that he’s their champion.
Many in no 10 believe this is the moment to turn to disaffected Tories flirting with UKIP and warn them they will land the nation with the most socialist Premier in generations.
It’s not risk or a gamble.
The maths are clear and if wavering Tories back UKIP at the General Election then Mr Miliband is almost certain to be crowned Prime Minister.