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Tories far from ‘effete and unfamiliar’ when it comes to twisted tax priorities

Posted on 18 November 2009 | 9:11am

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.

  • betty curtis


    All the media is the same they print & say what they want to & doesn’t bother them if they are sued or receive a rebuttal. Once their report is out there the damage has been done & they measure it by how much interest it’s raised ie If they’ve sold more Newspapers or get so called experts on TV to fill 24/7 News programmes.

    I’ve got to say (I admit it’s a woman thing )I’ve always commented on Cameron’s mouth & hands as being weak & always compared his effete persona to that of strength & manliness of Gordon Brown.

    The weakness throughout the Tory Party is in evidence by their lack of Policies & they have been a disaster in opposition & will practice the same old Thatcher ideology if they are elected.


    ARe you sure that policy won the landslide in 97? It s true you were much more the issue than the Tories are now, but maybe you did not actually need to put all that policy out there??

  • Colin Harper

    I agree the inheritabce tax is odd. Cameron did a speechlast week claiming to care about inequality. This tax cut for the very rich will increase inequality with noeconomic benefit to counter the social downside

  • Charlie Wills

    Heard you on Talksport about the World Cup for Street Kids. Sounds a great idea and I wish it well. But the best part of the interview was still when you were given the chance to demolish the Tories. More please

  • olli issakainen

    Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have expertise and above all experience. So why should the voters go into an unknown territory with Cameron and Osborne?
    Add to that the fact that Labour has the best values and the best policies, as AC has said, and it is very difficult to find good reasons to vote for the Tories.

  • Rory Gallivan

    Could you enlighten as to how Britain has advanced culturally over the past 12 years?

    Do you actually think the rate of cultural advance has accelerated under Labour?

    Perhaps you could give us some concrete examples?