In so far as our Prime Minister impinges upon today’s Labour media monitoring unit analysis of the day’s papers, it is via the revelations that he is to appear on a well-known American chat show, and that he is to ‘take to twitter.’
One of Mr Cameron’s closest advisors – no names but he is no longer there and used to work for a Sunday tabloid – once confessed to me that I had really stung his boss and the team with a piece I wrote, I think for the Times, that DC was not Tony Blair’s natural successor, but mine. Plus ca change, I think, when I look at the media monitoring report today.
The PM was in opposition then, where the media and its management perhaps matters more than in office, when you can set an agenda, drive a strategy, make huge decisions which impact upon people’s lives.
But Mr Cameron lacks the clear strategy, fails to set an agenda and stick to it and in so far as he makes big decisions, they do not appear to be having the desired impact upon the economy, or the country more generally.
So he is going down the cul-de-sac most leaders without a clear agenda and a clear strategy go – the one marked ‘if only I could get my message across better, all would be well.’
It says something for the PM and his priorities that he continues to chair meetings which are essentially about day to day media management. Doubtless it was from one of these that the decisions to go on the Letterman show, and to go on twitter as himself rather than via a spokesman’s voice, both emerged. There is nothing wrong with either decision, as tactics to take forward a strategy. But they are tactics pure and simple, which he and his team seek to dress up as strategy.
Here is how a Downing Street spokesman explained the Letterman decision. ‘Around a busy schedule of bilaterals & diplomatic work, the prime minister will seize on the legacy of the London Olympics to further promote Britain as a guest on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman. Reaching on average over three million viewers a night, the prime minister is due to appear on Wednesday’s show to highlight all that Britain has to offer & to encourage more Americans to visit or to set up a business here.’
Let us forgive the (wouldn’t have happened in my day) split infinitive. The rest of it is defensive guff to explain away something that is not that big a deal but, in the absence of anything important to say about his speech to the UN no less, it will have to do to justify the hacks getting on the transatlantic plane and being charged club class equivalents for the privilege.
The twitter revelation comes via Ben Brogan in the Telegraph and is explained thus: ‘ The PM’s advisers, frustrated by hostility in the media & indifference among broadcasters, say Twitter will allow him to reach voters directly with his version of the Govt’s successes & failures. They complain that they are not being given a fair hearing. Their refrain is that the argument about cuts is a great big mote in the national eye that stops us seeing the things the Govt is doing well on welfare, education, pensions & so on. At the same time they worry that we are missing the bigger point: that Britain is locked in a struggle for economic survival. Cameron advisers: ‘If we don’t get it right, we’re sunk.’
Self-pitying bilge, all emphasising rather than filling the strategic vacuum. Twitter is great, but it won’t fill the void. And if he does his research properly, Letterman will have a field day.