Not had time to read any of the papers, not heard any of the news, but the debate that has suddenly kicked off on my Facebook page re William Hague and Lord Ashcroft tells me that one has some way to run yet. Labour supporters scenting blood, Tories kicking out in all sorts of different directions.
The debate was around my tweet on the subject of a headline in The Guardian – ‘Tories rally round beleaguered Hague’ – which I suggested it was not exactly the kind of headline you wanted for a key campaigner just before a key campaign.
Before going out to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research dinner last night, where I shared the bill with Jeffrey Archer – one of the auction prizes was tea with the two of us at The Wolseley btw and someone paid several thousand for this dubious honour – I saw William Hague on the news talking about his role in the Ashcroft murk.
Hague’s straight-forwardness and straight talking is one of his strengths but he looked distinctly uncomfortable. He managed to get away with a clip for the news, but the look on his face suggested to me he would not fancy ten rounds with Jeremy Paxman or a select committee on the subject. The tough questions are not going to go away on this.
It brings me to a different point though. Every campaign has a list of key campaigners and of course Hague, as a former leader and de facto deputy leader of the Tory Party, is one such. The Ashcroft murk could force him to be less active and engaged than has been planned. Cameron is of course THE key campaigner. With the economy central to the campaign, George Osborne is another, and is not very popular with the public or the City. Kenneth Clarke is popular but, as shown by his mis-speak on tax policy in debate with Peter Mandelson yesterday, marginalised. Tory HQ has decided Michael Gove is a secret weapon, but I have yet to decide in which direction he is being targeted. All in all, it is a thin list.
It is why Labour as a team has to be a central part of the election campaign. Alistair Darling has seen his authority and reputation enhanced. The Miliband brothers are both clever and attractive politicians. Alan Johnson has the kind of popular touch DC’s public school toffs’ party would give half of their inheritance tax cut for. Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper and Tessa Jowell belie the claim there are no women at GB’s top table. Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, Liam Byrne, Jim Murphy, Peter Hain, Jack Straw … Bob Ainsworth is far more popular with the military than the press pretend. Shaun Woodward understands strategy and understands how to attack the Tories. Peter Mandelson and Douglas Alexander are class acts on the campaigns front.
Of course these elections are about electing individual MPs. But they are also about electing governments and the lack of strength in depth on the Tory side is a real problem for them. Here we are, a few weeks away, and the vast bulk of the team that could soon be running our country could walk down most of its streets without a soul knowing who the hell they are.
They banked on Cameron the one-man-band being enough. They were wrong.
* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
You’re doing a valiant job Alistair – but when you set out your list of cabinet members it is hilariously funny. These muppets couldn’t run a bath! yeah – go Liam, go Ed you are the men, oh yeah baby…….
Gordon Brown lied to the Chilcot inquiry on funding the armed forces. Even in the Commons he lied again – there were 4 years of real decreases in spending not “1 or 2”. This at a time of substantial wars. He did his usual blasting out of numbers as a distraction from reality. He did this for 10 years as chancellor, reannouncing the same spending over and over again.
If only Gordon Brown thought more about the future of our country and much less about his and his party’s future.
Hague did indeed look very shifty. I see someone on Facebook said the BBC were pushing this hard. On the contrary they have dropped a Panorama programme and last night Nick Robinson was determined to turn it into an ‘all as bad as each other’ report. If this was a Labour situation it would be raging 24/7
It was a big mistake for the Conservatives to put all their eggs in the one basket case that is David Cameron.
I wonder when it is going to dawn on the Conservatives that Cameron is crap?
When we look at those personality polls of political figures then of course Cameron rates highly, but what the Conservatives need is a leader who, for example, would have sorted out that Ashcroft business years ago.
The debates will be so important in the campaign that it is in the other parts of the campaign we need to see the team. Agree about the Milibands and Johnson. Less sure about some of the others but certainly stronger than the Tories and as you say government is about a team
I seem to recall in 1997 that, outside of Blair and Brown, nobody knew any of Labour’s top team. Given what’s happened since most of us wish we still didn’t.
You can keep attacking the Torys for all it’s worth but this simply displays the lack of solid arguments for continuing with the style of government as demonstrated under New Labour in recent years. If the Brown record stood up to scrutiny then the type of negative campaigning you espouse wouldn’t be needed.
There are some good economic stories, unemployment down, car production up, borrowing not as bad as predicted for February, revised down dramatically for January. The tories now should be out of sight; and they know it, their front bench team are featherweight and vastly inexperienced.
A Devon Loch victory is on.
You mentioned George Osborne’s unpopularity.
The tragedy with George is that when he was being called an ‘oik’ by his Bullingdon Club chums for having gone to the wrong public school – and when he was being dangled by his ankles over a toilet by the same said chums and
made to say ‘I am a despicable c**t’ – he was being presented with a choice of whose side to be on.
In such a situation, many people would have developed an empathy for the underdog. Instead, George has given every indication that rather than beat the bullies, he’d prefer to join them. I still harbour a hope that he might come
good one day, though – like Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Injury time winner. What Bliss.
Alastair, Nothing in this blog about the transport strikes. Why not? Suggest ‘best paid cabin crew in the world strike to protect high wages and restrictive working practices’ as a possible title for Monday. Too long? What about ‘PM’s own Trade Union seeks to bankrupt BA’perhaps, or ‘How much does Tony Woodley earn’? or even ‘ What is a Unite employee doing with a desk at No 10’? You can make up your own headline for Charlie Whelen. My imagination doesn’t stretch that far.
Seeing Hague squirm in front of the cameras is a great sign for the Labour camp, as you rightly pointed out, he is generally very confident when dealing with media.
With Douglas Alexander’s campaign leadership, the election result will not be as bad as we may of predicted this time last year.
the strikes were via a secret ballot with over 80% in favour of action. The BA crews are the best paid because that what a union can do for you.
Re Tony Woodley, he’s the man who persuaded GM to stay at Ellesmere Port and invest in Vauxhall, Willie Walsh was in charge of Terminal 5 when passengers waited months to get their luggage back.
Reading the details of David Cameron’s proposed tax on Bankers operating in Britain I keep hearing the shrill words of Dad’s Army character Lance-Corporal Jones: “They dont like it up’em”.
In fact, there’s something in common between DC and Mr Jones the butcher – full of bright ideas not all that sensible and flexible on the wartime meat rationing for his better off customers.