Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Disciples of the New Labour school of spin doctoring must have been purring with delight when the shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper silenced the BBC television presenter Andrew Marr by giving him a master class in not answering the question.

She followed the rule book to the letter: prepare and learn a soundbite and then deploy it relentlessly; when an interviewer finally gives up and beats a retreat, do not smirk.

Eighteen months after the general election, just as the coalition government is about to unveil its make-or-break plans to revive the economy, Nick Clegg is at a political crossroad.

Are the Liberal Democrats going to continue presenting themselves as the coalition’s conscience – the party of “all things to all men” – or will Clegg be able to persuade his colleagues that they should focus their efforts on those policy areas where they do have responsibility and could establish some long-term political credibility?

David Cameron’s culpability in helping to generate a hue and cry over the death of Baby P cannot be overlooked in the war of words between Sharon Shoesmith and Ed Balls.  As Leader of the Opposition, Cameron was the first senior politician to endorse the Sun’s demand for Shoesmith to be sacked from her job as Haringey’s director of children’s services.

 

The Sun pursued what became an unprecedented campaign of vilification directed against an individual local authority official for the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly.  It collected 1.4 million signatures for a petition calling for Shoesmith’s dismissal – a petition which was personally backed by Cameron on the day it was launched in November 2008.

All the furore over David Cameron’s Flasham routines at question time in the House of Commons ignores the fact that the Prime Minister’s first claim to fame was his ability to write punchy one-line political put downs.

 

And despite criticism of his bullying manner and chauvinistic use of Michael Winner’s jibe “Calm down, dear, calm down” against the Labour MP Angela Eagle, it is quite apparent that Cameron cannot resist putting the boot in and raising a laugh. 

Appointing two hard-nosed national newspaper journalists to the top posts of chief strategist and media spokesman is the clearest indication that Ed Miliband believes the quickest route to establishing his authority in the Labour Party is by exploiting the news media.

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