After yesterday’s rebuttal of the FT Deutschland, I come a bit closer to home today, to rebut a piece that has popped up in my inbox from the Evening Standard.
A better paper since Boris’s wannabee arts supremo (ahem) Veronica Wadley was despatched from the editor’s chair, the Standard’s writers could nonetheless do with honing their fact-checking skills.
The piece by Sarah Sands refers to the Queen’s Speech set out by GB ‘yesterday.’ What was that old line about picking up a paper and not believing the date beneath the masthead?
It’s today, dear.
The article purported to be about electoral strategy and ‘revealed’ that ‘Alastair Campbell’ (that’s me) ‘had confided to a left-leaning friend of mine’ (that’s Sarah) ‘that the strategy is simply to contrast GB’s reliable manliness with the unfamiliar and effete Tories.’ I have no idea who the left-leaning friend is. What I do know is that I have never said such a thing. Had I done so, it would mean I have lost any sense of strategy that I might have had.
‘Vote for GB – he steered us through the crisis and shaves twice a day. Not DC who is all rosy-cheeked and we don’t know much about him.’
The steering through the crisis bit – fine. He has. But elections are about the future as well as the past and the strategy as set out to SS’s ‘left-leaning friend’ has none of that. As for Cameron, ‘unfamiliar’ – yes – so far as a body of policy is concerned. But ‘effete and unfamiliar’ actually fits more closely the Tory strategy, which is ‘look, I know we don’t have many policies but isn’t it really time for a change, and you have to admit Dave is not as scary as Michael Howard and all the other post-Major dorks?’
So the Labour strategy, far from playing into this, as ‘effete and unfamiliar’ does, has to take the deliberate concealment of policy and communicate the risk that the Tories will pose – to living standards, public services, our standing in Europe, and the advances Britain has made culturally.
I accept it is harder when they are refusing the put out much policy. By the time of the last Queen’s Speech when we were in Opposition, we had something close to a manifesto full of policy out there. It is one of the reasons we won as big as we did.
But there is enough policy for us to guess what kind of government they would be. We got a taste of the scale of Gideon Osborne’s public services cuts, and where he would like to apply them, in his Conference speech.
And we get a clear sense of their values and priorities from the fact that their one absolute tax pledge is the one to cut inheritance tax for the 3000 wealthiest estates in the country.
The more I think about their commitment to it, the more I think they have had to promise it in return for donations somewhere down the fundraising line. Because politically it is a no brainer. And it is all too familiar.
Final point of rebuttal for Ms Sands. She says I have described The Thick of It as ‘boring rubbish.’ Again, I have said no such thing. I have said – because it is what I believe – that I got bored watching In The Loop, the film based on it.
I find The Thick of It very funny, and think the new minister is a great addition.
Rebuttal over. Have a nice day.