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Some great stuff in The Observer today

Posted on 21 February 2010 | 11:02am

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.

*** Buy The Blair Years and raise cash for Labour. http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bokshop.php.

  • Harold Graham

    Nice selective coverage AC. I agree with your suggestion yesterday that Rawnsley wrote the book at a time Labour seemed finished, but the mood has definitely turned a little. I don’t know if you read his column but it was a defensive piece trying to justify The Observer pouring bucketloads of ordure over the PM at a time the election race is picking up. And they call themselves progressives

  • K Boyle

    Fergie so obviously did the interview before the match yesterday. He looked fit to burst at the end. Glad to hear he still thinks Labour can win. He knows a thing or two about resilience and we will need plenty

  • Mark Abrahams

    Have cancelled order of Observer. If they put half the energy into attacking the Tories as they do to undermining Brown Cameron would be even more panicky. One cartoon does not make up for the biased and tendentious coverage today, all to sell a few books

  • Mark \’Elvis\’ Wright

    I can’t figure out what the Conservative Party are ‘for’.

  • Charlie

    AC, You are so Tribal that you have lost all reason.

    You are only supporting Brown because is has proved impossible to persuade him that it would be in the best interests of the Labour Party if he would make way for a more popular leader.

    It may be easy to dismiss Watt as a misfortune. Rawnsley however cannot be dismissed so carelessly.

    It would appeat that the Tories have no need to run a Negative Campaign…….Gordon Brown is doing it for them.

    AC, Is your loyalty to Labour so blinkered that you are unable to see that no right thinking person will vote Labour until Brown and the rest of his hideous, bullying cabal are cleared out.

  • SimonGittins

    Strange how you normally ignore opinion polls or question their accuracy until you actually get one you like.
    I wonder if you’ll find any to meet your approval once the election is formally announced and Brown and co. will be forced to discuss, in detail, their spending plans for the next 5 years and how their gross mismanagement of the public finances will affect us all for so many years to come.!

  • Alan Quinn

    Just back in from canvassing in Bury North which is another of Dave’s key marginals. The verdict; no appetite for Dave and Co, no hatred towards Labour and plenty of support.
    Re SAF’s interview in the Observer today; he is wrong about the Glazers. He’s mis read the anger amongst the fans over the money the Glazers have taken out of the club, the interest payments and the amount they can leach out from United in the future.

  • Patrick James

    I’m very pleased to see the narrowing of the polls to a gap of just 6%.

    I think that AV has some thing to do with it. I know that people say that electoral reform is not a vote winner, but I look at my own constituency and wonder how I would feel if I were a Lib Dem supporter.

    Mine is a marginal constituency, it was held by Labour in 2005 by only a handful of votes. 16K for Labour and 16K for the Conservatives. The Lib Dems have 8K of the votes.

    The Lib Dems want PR of course and even though I am a Labour guy I support the Lib Dems in their desire for a system of PR.

    If I were a Lib Dem supporter in my constituency I would vote Labour. I would do so because if there is to be a hung parliament then it is better that it is hung in Labour’s direction rather than the Conservative’s. Hanging to the left rather than to the right 🙂 – apologies for invoking a vulgar image!

    With a “hung to the left” parliament the chances of electoral reform are very great indeed. AV is on the table and the Lib Dems will be in a good position to negotiate more if they can.

    With a “hung to the right” parliament it is more difficult for the Lib Dems to negotiate parliamentary reform and then process it through Parliament. A Conservative victory would bring a total end to the Lib Dem dream of electoral reform.

    So, I think that in marginal constituencies where Labour and Conservatives are the two contenders it would make sense for Lib Dems to vote Labour. I also think the party realises this and as the election approaches the Lib Dem electorate will increasingly realise this.

  • David Kingston

    @Simongittngs

    It seems that Simon is being selective in his memory. Your blog has been commenting regularly for some time that the tories are no where near where they need to be in the opinion polls to be confident of victory. With the open goals of an economic crisis and an unpopular war, they should already be out of sight and consistently polling over 50% as Labour were before the 1997 election. Nothing focusses the electorate’s minds more than a general election. Mid-term elections (Euro, local and by-elections) allow people to protest at issues without changing government. As we get closer people will compare and contrast Gordon and Dave as Prime Ministers. Who has the depth,policies and believability as PM? We can expect the opinion poll gap to continue to narrow.

  • Brian Hughes

    Curious how the only bits of the Observer that ye BBC types seem to have noticed today are Mr Rawsley’s attempts to flog his latest collection of gossip and tittle-tattle (sorry if that’s tautologous (sorry if tautologous isn’t a real word)).

  • BarBar of Oz

    Too hilarious for words.

    Rawnsley writes that “the cream upholstery of the seat-back in front of Brown was flecked with black marks. When having a meltdown the prime minister would habitually stab it with his black marker pen.”

    and

    Asked if he had ever been hit by Brown, Mandelson said: “History records that we had our moments, but I would like to think that I took my medicine like a man.”

    Will Richard 111 defeat Henry Tudor and then … set about quartering the traitors? How on earth did TB escape with his life?

  • Chris lancashire

    Looks like Villa bullied Burnley into submission. No doubt the spinners will now be attacking the Ref. for unfairly allowing Villa to score 5.

  • Nick

    Interesting to note the reaction of Campbell and the Left in dealing with these bullying allegations. The line seems to be ‘we have known about GBs behaviour for a long time, so thats all right then’. That, and the usual healthly dose of ‘shoot the messenger/ blame the meeja’, formerly the forte of Tony Benn in the 80s, now increasingly the de rigeur response to any Labour criticism by Alistair Campbell.

    Isn’t it strange that a Party that created such a rainbow coalition by protecting the rights of the “downtrodden minorities” – whether that be racial or sexual minorities, anti smokers, or even foxes…now turns such a collective blind eye to the oppression of the Downing St minions?

  • little keefer

    Is the David Cameron calling for an investigation into No 10 bullying the same David Cameron who employs Andy Coulson, who when he edited the News of the World was involved in bullying a journalist so badly that the poor hack won more than £700,000 payout (the highest ever).
    Glass houses and stones come to mind.