... at the next election is negative. While there is an election due, though not that really you would notice as yet, it seems the parties are testing out a range of things that undermine their opponent far more than they promote themselves. Perhaps that is a little unfair, it is definitely Labour's tactic, and they are relying very much on things going viral and buzzing around the Internet (the example left is a case in point that I have been sent a number of links to). Equally the wonderful 'Tory Logo' tool.
But the Conservatives have been doing very similar things, from the demand for an election, the say sorry campaign to this one that has also on a number of blogs in the last couple of days (torybear for example). A recycling of a campaign back in 1979 and only a matter of time before it reappeared - especially pertinent given the news of unemployment rises yesterday. But there is a broader point to all of this. If it is simply going to be a tit for tat battle of attacks how can the parties expect the public to engage with the campaign. There is already evidence that voting is not for 'the best candidate' (Obama perhaps being the exception) but the 'least worst'; this simply promotes that.
Attacks only work if they stick and are believable, so we await what the mass of people decide on these messages. However blunt attack ads also are claimed to have a negative effect on public trust (they are all c**p), efficacy (voting is pointless because they are all c**p) and interest (they are not saying anything of relevance) and so voter turnout. The positives are they are memorable and, if amusing, repeated; but they are only attractive if they reinforce the beliefs of the reader - hence they go around the partisan blogs but seldom make the mainstream perhaps and are not as effective when viewed by the floating, non-partisan voter.