There is some fantastic stuff in The Observer today. As I am heading to Villa to see Burnley later today, forgive me if I am a bit rushed and so only point out four things.
1. is the final paragraph of the lead story. I will quote it – the final paragraph that is – in full. ‘A YouGov poll published today by the Sunday Times, meanwhile, reveals that the gap between Labour and the Conservatives has shrunk to just six points – the closest position in more than a year.’ (What did I say yesterday about the Tories wobbling if they go beneath 40 per cent? … you watch)
2. is on page 32, a piece headlined ‘The weekend Brown saved the banks from the abyss’, with a sub-heading ‘The prime minister’s qualities were to the fore on the weekend in October 2008 when financial calamity was so close.’
Methinks 1 and 2 may be linked.
3. is an interview with Alex Ferguson on the sports pages, particularly enjoyable for the enthusiasm he continues to show for the game, and in particular the joy he gets from helping turn Wayne Rooney into a world-class player. It’s a pity the interviewer didn’t get Fergie going on politics. Had he done so, he would have heard the views of a man who is convinced Labour not only can but will win the next election, not least because young people in particular see little in David Cameron to relate to.
Which brings me to 4, the main cartoon on page 37, ‘Riddell’s view.’ As many of the nation’s cartoonists know, I am something of a sucker for good political cartoons, not least for the funds they can raise for party and charity, as well as the joy they can bring to a toilet or a landing wall.
Today’s has a pot-bellied Cameron playing darts – he ‘confessed’ to a love of darts in a recent interview, in which he also cited cans of Guinness as one of the great inventions of our time. The speech bubble has him saying ‘I say, Jeeves, open me another can of Guinness, there’s a good fellow…’
In the foreground, meanwhile, which we assume to be Jeeves’s quarters, is a box marked ‘fragile’ with ‘Tory policies’ in it, a Maggie handbag, a portrait of a swivel-eyed Cameron older generation lookalike, and an axe. Subtle it ain’t. But telling it most certainly is.
For all I know, Cameron likes to chuck the odd arrow, and likes to down the odd can of Guinness. But whereas there is an argument that the country might like to know a little more about GB the man, given we know an awful lot about GB the policy-obsessed politician, I wonder if Team Dave might reflect on whether we need to know a little less about Cameron’s pastimes and habits, and a little more about what he would be if elected. I enjoyed darts commentator Sid Waddell’s rebuff of Dave’s professed admiration for him.
Just as his airbrushed posters missed the public mood, so do his continuing efforts to portray himself as an ordinary kind of guy. The more he tries to conceal his silver spoon background, the more he will open the door for it to become an issue. I for one felt Labour got far too defensive in the wake of the Tories and their media friends crying ‘class war’ when GB suggested Tory policies on inheritance tax and non-doms were dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton.
Nobody is saying that going to Eton disqualifies someone from being PM, any more than an education at Fettes disqualified TB from becoming a Labour leader and PM. But when your background and upbringing so clearly dictate your policy agenda – and the inheritance tax cut for 3000 of his closest friends is the best example of that – then it becomes an issue.
It is interesting that on the weekend The Observer is providing plenty of cartoon material from its coverage of GB, the resident satirist should be focusing on Dave’s efforts at getting down with the hoi polloi.
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