Road to the Manifestos 2013

I am delighted to present Portland’s guide to the next two and a half years of political history.

With less than half of the Parliament remaining, politics-watchers will soon start to look less at the day-to-day business of government and more to the parties’ challenge ahead. And politicians – who started planning for the next election the morning after the last – will increasingly trade off short term results for long term advantage.

With the election on the horizon, Portland has taken a look at what might lie between now and 2015.

First, we have asked our own advisers Michael Portillo and Alastair Campbell, veterans of political battles gone by, to give us their perspectives on manifestos.

The next chapter sketches out the many potential election outcomes, all of which have a bearing on the three major party leaders’ strategies. Following that, a look at electoral history suggests little comfort for Cameron, Clegg or Miliband.

As much as strategy and positioning are all-consuming obsessions, the real issues matter more. Portland’s Chief Policy Adviser James O’Shaughnessy has provided an essay outlining the battleground: the policies that will matter and the voters for whom they are important.

We then take a look at the internal workings of each of the three main parties as they prepare and deliver their manifesto documents. By looking both at the people who will take the decisions, and the often idiosyncratic process the party requires ideas to be fed through, we can begin to get an idea of when and how ideas turn to policies and policies to promises.

Watching all that unfold is a diverting, if niche pastime. But at a time when politicians of all parties are crying out for new ideas, and when decisions made now could have effects for years to come, our clients want to know how they can get to have a say as well. Portland Partner Oliver Pauley draws five lessons for the years 2013-15.

In 2015 it may not be apparent which business or organisations had the right communication strategy in 2012. Those who get 2013 right – or wrong – however – will be much easier to spot.