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No Prime Minister … media blitz was wrong thing to do

Posted on 24 April 2012 | 7:04am

No, no, no Prime Minister … that media blitz yesterday was not the thing to do.

I mean they were perfectly nice pictures, jacket off in the Today programme studio, striding red box in hand around Number 10, hitting said red box on train, factory visit, sit down with Nick Robinson in nice industrial setting, and you even managed to slip a cardigan back onto a working woman’s shoulders. Nice.

But ... the mood has changed, and what happens when the mood has changed is that what once was just absorbed and accepted as ‘nice pictures’ now just grates, frankly.

But worse than that is the sense coming from the country’s PM that life is just one long round of media appearances. Sorry to repeat myself – but do more and say less.

Being on telly from PMQs. Fine. Being on telly from summits and big speeches with big points to make. Good. But stop being your own spokesman on running stories of the day.

Nadine Dorries has said all that before, about you and George being posh boys who don’t get people’s lives. That’s the other thing that happens when the mood changes – things people ignored in good mood times suddenly gain traction in bad mood times.

But there was something a bit demeaning about seeing a Prime Minister sit there and have her words read to him, and ‘hit back’ with a hurt look and stories of his supermarket shopping so that he could reveal he knew the price of milk.

In so far as there was a message yesterday, it was that he intended to focus on the challenges facing the country, and ignore all the froth. The effect, however, was that he added to the froth and so, to be frank, was off message! Unusual for him, but these are changed times!

  • Dave

    I thought he came across as being very defensive.  Whern he stated that the people he cared about were those who work hard and save for their retirement, he never mentioned students, unemployed or pensioners.

    I don’t care that he’s posh or wealthy, but I do care that we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t care about the country as a whole.

  • Annie

    I’m glad that someone is picking up on this point at last.  Hardly a day goes by, even at weekends, when we don’t hear something from Cameron.  If it’s not on government policy, then it is a sound bite on some other news item.  His supporters may find it comforting.  As a non-supporter, it simply adds to my impression of someone who gives knee-jerk responses, is hot-headed, impulsive and acts before thinking.  Surely we need a leader who is measured and calculated in his responses, rather than splattering sound bites all over our media.

  • harryf200

    But the supermarket he uses, isn’t it Fortnum and Mason?  :¬)

  • lucy

    As someone has just mentioned to John Prescott on Twitter, if #callmedave was in touch with the electorate he’d be shopping in Aldi and Home Bargains. Most people realise we will never be “in this together” but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to stop faffing about and show he understands the situation he has put us in, oh wait, the Tories are in, and as the old gag goes we have two hopes & one of them is Bob.

  • Graham Nelson

    You’re giving a Tory PM good PR advice? Exactly whose side are you on?  ;o)

  • Chris lancashire

    Absolutely right Mr Campbell. It’s nearly as embarrassing as Mr Blait buying Gordon that ice cream.

  • MarkM

    What really, really grated for me was his moan about all the work he has to do and the things he has to worry about – economics, foreign countries, terrorism – poor chap. How very, very sad. I guess he was not even aware what being Prime Minister really means. Is it me or does he look just the same as he did when he was elected? After two year most leaders look like they have aged 10 years. Not Cameron.

  • MJ

    You can always tell when DC hasn’t got a convincing answer to a question or comment, because he starts the sentence with ‘Look,…’ as he did yesterday in conversation with Nick Robinson. What you feel he really wants to be saying is ‘Look here, you oik’.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Style can get you to the office. But you must have substance to grab the power.
    Day by day it is becoming clearer that David Cameron is a man without a plan.
    By imitating Blair he just managed to get into the Number 10. But he forgot to think what he would do when in power.
    Mr Cameron claimed to be compassionate conservative and one-nation Tory, but his actions have proved that he is a neo-Thatcherite.
    All he can do is cut, cut and cut £16bn more. He has nothing positive to say about the future.
    He lacks “compelling vision”. Unworkable Big Society is not one.
    The public mood has changed.
    There is a worldwide rebellion against big business and the rich – seen latest in France.
    Under economic stress people behave like rats in cage.
    Capital does not exist above state and society. Capitalism´s custodians have become its worse enemies.
    Goldman Sachs´ Lloyd Blankfein and Bob Diamond have faced angry shareholders.
    Big business has neglected economic and social responsibilities. Top pay is not according to performance.
    Nations must control their economies.
    There must be barriers to foreign capital: we need progressive protectionism.
    Free-market Conservatives and Orange book LibDems are out of touch.
    Public mood is now against EU, neoliberalism, globalisation, banks, rich, immigration, Islam, euro and austerity.
    It is ridiculous to paint this opposition as “far right”.
    British newspapers label True Finns as far right, when, in fact, it is a centre-left party.
    Popular social conservative parties often have leftist economic policies.
    David Cameron pursued wrong kind of modernisation. Liberalism instead of blue-collar conservatism.
    Biggest cuts will now occur in 2014-15 – a huge strategic mistake by Osborne.
    The UK economy is now flatlining.
    The UK GDP has increased from £621bn (1976) to around £1.5tn, but the share going to employees in wages has DECLINED!
    From 65.1% to 54%.
    The decline is unmatched in any other developed country. The gap between rich and poor in Britain is the biggest in EU.
    Wealthy elites have taken the money.
    Trade union density in Britain is only 26.6% – 69.2% in Finland. Who is protecting the workers?
    Jobs in manufacturing have been replaced by less well-paid ones in service sector.
    Privatisation and outsourcing have contributed to low wages.
    Corporation tax has declined from 52% to 22% in 2014. Top tax rate from 83% to 45%.
    JK Galbraith stated that BAD DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME was the biggest cause of the 30s depression.
    Same mistake is being made today.

  • ambrosian

    Starting sentences with “Look…….”? Mmm…….now which previous PM does that remind me of?

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t believe Cameron rhymed off all the things he has to think about in a day, all contained in that larger than normal ministerial red box. It was definitely a case of ‘woe is me’. He needs to get his act together. He sounds and looks out of his depth.

  • Watoop

    Perhaps Cameron’s got a book to plug? Only kidding, Alastair.

  • reaguns

    I must admit to being an inverted snob on this. I do not want an old Etonian running the country. I want a working class person who understands the struggles of people in the worst circumstances of the country. I don’t feel you can really fully appreciate that unless you’ve been there. I heard many people from left and right say “Oh I don’t care if he’s a priveleged posh millionaire as long as he’s a competent prime minister.” Well I think there are only a very small group of posh people who get the struggles of the working class, Churchill, Tony Benn… now I’m struggling.

    On the point of the blog, I am increasingly worried by the way Alastair and other journos criticise Cameron. They do so from angles which reveal they actually have a lot of respect for him, not in terms of doing good for the country, but in terms of appearing prime minister, doing the right things politically to stay in power. This tells me they think we are going to be stuck with OmniCameron for a long time.

    I agree, once workfare really kicks in and the majority of nasty, or simply politically and economically naive people in this country perceive Cameron to be the guy who booted “scroungers” out to work, he’ll be untouchable. All the ‘problems’ will vanish. After that kicks in he could sell the NHS to McDonalds for all people will care.

  • reaguns

    One of my favourite commentators until this week was Alastair’s old foe Peter Oborne. What I don’t like about him is that he is pro Cameron. But he seems able to take a detached and fair look at things (he has been saying Ed Miliband is underrated for example.)

    However this week he crossed the line and repeated one of the most disengenious and despicable lines that is currently rife in British politics. He talked about the workfare reforms as “Saving poor people from the trap of welfare” or “freeing them from the trap of welfare” and “empowering them to live fulfilling lives in work.” Oh pull the other one you liars. We all know perfectly well its got nothing to do with that. Its got nothing to do with freedom or empowerment. They have much more freedom now in fact, workfare supporters would happily chain them to a machine, a till or a desk. They want them to be punished for not working. They want them to suffer work like the rest of us do, not be “empowered” or “freed” by it. That’d be like me saying I want to free Anders Breivik from his guilt by shooting him. No – I want to punish him for his despicable crime by shooting him.

  • reaguns

    Ukip talking zero tolerance on crime for London. Hmmm ukip or paddick, who is most powerless / disengenious?

  • simon

    And Ed Miliband would look and sound so much more inspiring in the role, of course..

  • Red Weds

    I think you are all being ghastly to our poor, over worked and under appreciated PM. After all there’s not a minute of the day goes by that he is not doing his best on all our behalfs. It’s not his fault that he’s way out of his depth surrounded by spineless political colleagues and inept media advisers. Still at least he’s keeping the botox industry afloat – for all those negatives at least there’s one positive.

  • Cuse

    What pains me is that so many people couldn’t see that our Dear Leader was going to be so gloriously out of his depth once he managed to sneak into office. To us that could – this is just a case that the media and public at large are catching up with us.

    We are being governed by the most inept, directionless, arrogant and deceitful leaders imaginable. Cameron is just plain awful.

    • Ehtch

      It is now fair to say that Cameron and his government is now starting to drown in “things”. So many things buliding on top of other things. They can only tread water for so long, before something rather larger will come along and push their heads finally right under.

      Murdoch’s trail to Cameron maybe, via Jeremy Hunt, via that SPAD? When one of them resigns/sacks himself, then surely the minister he works for can’t last much longer? And this minister being used by Cameron as a shield to the trail, as it his has been described today?

      And the way this government is losing it’s way, and really seriously too losing their way with it, can we expect them to last until 2015? Surely not. But it is up to them Lib Dems again though, to stick their heads up out of the sandpit, to at least save themselves a little way. That is the only way for them to make something from this mess they are involved in. This Coalition is becoming more of a joke each day.

    • Ehtch

      furthermore, this is dynamite. Murdochs look as if they had lost judgement in 2009, let alone the Torys, but that goes without saying. Thatcher and Major could get away with it in their days, but Cameron can’t these days – takes a thick wooly pully to hide the eyes these days with fast info. Link,

      No wonder Brown looked a bit naffed around then, he knew what was going on.

  • Chris lancashire

    Whilst agreeing with most of what you say, when was the last “working class person who understands the struggles of people” to be PM?

  • MoustacheSally

     To be fair, Gordon might not have been poor, but at least he lived in a normal, working class area. If you can’t think of any other positives, national minimum wage was one step toward fairness.

  • Anonymous

    Well, not being a Cameron watcher I’ve missed this.  But Alastair, you shouldn’t be offering him advice – because what makes you think he won’t take it?  Suggestion: watch him make his comms blunders and write about football instead.  

  • Libdem

    reaguns, you should read Douglas Carswell’s blog, most of it is anti-mandarin; he blames them for many of the governments failings.

  • Ehtch

    It is all about bumping the gums in saying the right things, and looking politically cool, isn’t it? Together with physical innaction, that is the way to go.

    I am being sarcastic, by the way.

  • simon

    He had a disabled child who died. We’ve all been there, haven’t we ?

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone get the new experimental version of Disqus when they opened the site? No make it stop! Even this one is better!

    Andrew Neil v interesting on Murdoch at Leveson tomorrow, apparently he wants to come out swinging for Cameron and Brown, but scared if he does it will damage him in America.
    So I hope he comes out swinging and damages Brown, Cameron and himself in America.

  • Anonymous

    I do read it sometimes, though the last time I commented on it he basically told me to eff off!

    I actually just received delivery of my box set of yes minister and yes prime minister today!

    I am very much looking forward to reading Jonathan Powell’s book, he has a lot in it regarding the mandarins trying to overpower tony blair. I wonder does he have the bit where Blair fought back and said “Constitution-schmooshin – I’m in charge now muhahahahaha!”

  • Anonymous

    I thought John Major was a working class person who had a lot of understanding of what that means, he grew up in Brixton didn’t he which gives him a perspective that Cameron or Miliband can’t get no matter how well meaning.

  • Anonymous

    As for GB, he’s not an old Etonian but he is not working class by any stretch of the imagination. However I do believe that he strived long into the night to study books and data, both of like minded and opposing politicians and economists, to try to work out the best ways to help the poor and the working class. I disagree with his conclusions but I believe in his integrity in that regard at least in the early days – later I think he let grasping to win and retain power get the better of him and enacted some policies which he knew would not work.

    On minimum wage, no one ever wants to hear this, but no. I’ve just had quite a long debate on this on an economics forum because I got evidence today that even the darling of far left keynesian economics, Paul Krugman, conceded that minimum wage creates unemployment.

    The people in work will be better off, but there will be more people out of work – is that fair?

  • Libdem

    yeh, I know how he must have been feeling, not with regard to you of course lol!
    I used to listen to the Yes Minister recordings in my car, brilliant!!!!

    Haven’t read Jonathan Powell’s book but suspect it’s a good read. I think they ‘the ministers’ should get rid of half the civil servants but there’s no way as it also keeps them in jobs!

  • Ehtch

    off topic again Alastair, Germany vee England, in so many words, and it’ll be in Munich, Bavaria. Wolves what?

    Should be interesting, especially with players of Chelsea with various flavours. Will the Cheski players buy into the 1966 feeling, as no doubt their supporters are within their bones?

  • Anna

    Just because you’re rich and public school needn’t mean that, with a little compassion and imagination, you can’t imagine what it’s like to be at the bottom of the heap. After all, I’ve never starved in Ethiopia or been incarcerated in a concentration camp, or been subjected to vile racism; but I can use my imagination to envisage such horrors. Don’t forget that Attlee, our greatest peacetime PM of the last century, was himself a public school man. That didn’t prevent him from championing the poor and creating the welfare state.  What Cameron and his crew lack is just this imaginative sympathy that helps you see through stereotypes and prejudice, and envisage what it’s like to be jobless,or frightened about losing your job, to have to juggle and scrape to make ends meet and put food on the table.

    Added to their insensitivity, is increasingly obvious incompetence and it is this double failure that’s hacking people off. As someone said, ‘You can get away with heartless if you’re not hopeless, but if you’re hopeless and heartless……..’ 

  • Ehtch

    are you on a downer. no probs. cough! what can I say, umm. Interesting score footie last night? no, that’s no good, I know, how about some west highland singing, now in Canada and cross border US before there was ever a fucking border then. Saw Paxo the other night visiting there with his empire jewboy thing, no doubt culturaly voyering, as I pointed out when he was on that motorbike in some field in India, circulating a sacred cow. Anyway, that clip in Canada is amazing, every other daughter looked like mine, showing lowland brythonic celt scots shoved off to Canada by their own choice because they had more money than the highlanders that were sent to NZ and parts of OZ, out of the way.

    Anyway, all thinking of you, if the black dog has come to lick your lips. Yes that song, which one – heard of Catrin O’Neil? Her dad’s family ended up in Newcastle after the blight, he met her mother in, umm, can’t remember, South Africa was it? Welsh she is anyway, mainly. Adventured herself all round the world, even appeared in bollywood films as a dancer when she was in India, no bullshit, religious cow or not.

    Here is Catrin when she did a gig where she lived when young, Bamouth, Mid-Wales coast. She’s sweet, real sweetheart, 27 mins long.

    Anyway, if I have taken the wrong end of the wotsit here, all the best all the same. But I sense I maybe not. Never mind Alastair, give it a little time, and rest and let it come back slowly, as slowly as it wants. There is no hurry at all. absoluterly none.

  • Ehtch

    It’s not your mam is it Alastair, or your wifes mam or dad?

    If so, song for lost suddenly,

    If not, any other loss is just the same, no need explain, from heart part removed.

  • reaguns

    Someone call the police! I have just witnessed a brutal assault! A middle aged caucasian resembling Andrew Neil has just commited GPH (grievous political harm) on beady eyed reptile chameleon (comedian) called Ed Balls on todays daily politics!

    Balls did well last time out on sunday politics, Neil cornered him with facts that made him look stupid to anyone who knows economics, but Balls was able to give answers that sound plausible to ordinary voters. However I think even ordinary voters can understand “For the fifth time Mr Balls please answer the question.”

    In case anyone accuses Andrew Neil, or myself, of bias, check out daily politics of two days ago where he dished out an even worse kicking to tory Claire Perry, ouch!

    He’s also been pasting Murdoch in the last few days.

    We’ll be lost when he retires, Paxman and Humphrys are not in the same class, so hopefully its not for a long time.

  • reaguns

    Would just hate anyone to miss this one:

  • Michele

     John Major grew up in Brixton when it was still a middle class area full of houses with servants’ quarters. 

  • Michele

     i remembered today that when the JHunt emails first came to light the ‘proof’ offered that there had not been impropriety re NI was that the company had not won the deal it was after.

    Hang on, ‘ello ‘ello, that was nothing to do with impartiality, that was to do with their offer being withdrawn in the awful wake of the exposures about Millie Dowler’s phone.

  • reaguns

    Correct. Don’t know if you saw This Week tonight, but Andrew Neil pretty much said that he knew Murdoch had directly asked for, and got, favours from politicians. We all know that of course, but unless someone actually says it at Leveson what does it matter. This inquiry has been very soft. Neil has poured scorn on the softness of the questioning on Murdoch. I know Neil has personal beef with him, but shouldn’t they get Andrew Neil up at this Leveson inquiry?

    P.s. I got your one the other day re disliking personality or policy. I’ll freely admit that if Jeremy Hunt turned out to be the new Franklin Roosevelt I’d still like to see him get sacked because I cannot stick him.

  • reaguns

    I certainly agree with the principle but not the proportion, I’d get rid of way more than half. I’d get rid of all the EU ones for a start. And then I’d be like Rick Perry I’d close a load of other departments except I’d try to remember which ones.

  • reaguns

    Seriously? I could not compete with you on knowledge of Brixton (saw you mention elsewhere that you lived / had lived there.) Major was working class though wasn’t he? Obviously I couldn’t see many John Majors walking round Brixton a few years back so it must have been different when he grew up there – but I would have thought its been a long time since its been anything like middle class?

  • Ehtch

    The BBC has been avoiding Balls since the announced recession we have double-dipped gone down into reaguns, but glad the beeb eventually has giving him air-time, but it has taken a couple of days, hasn’t it?

    The basic UK economy was in an alright state, before this US imported 2008 occured, where Brown and Darling had to pin up World capitalism, but given another definition by these idiots from the Coalition. Danny Alexander on Newsnight was a plonker, and needs to get stronger glasses so he can see things better. Ski lifts vat removed, my big fat arse!

  • Ehtch

    …furthermore, there is no reason why VAT should be more than 5%. One penny in twenty it should be at the most, anything more creates a poverty class in a modern First World’s nation, and is just grabbing food out of our babies mouths by Westminster treasury morons.

  • Ehtch

    even furthermore Alastair, I AM NOT A NUMBER, I AM A FREE MAN.

    Outdoor scenes filmed in Port Meirion, just up the road from Barmouth, as you no doubt 1960’s know. “Bed, bed, only things in my bed is bugs” – my words, by the way, enjoy Alastair, only in humour purposes, put to excellent random music,

  • Ehtch

    totally absoutely completely off topic Alastair, but sport though, Queenie shaking hands with Jon “Foxy” Davies, up coming rugger star, from Bancyfelin, near St Clears in Carmarthenshire, today. Parents run, or did run, the Fox and Hounds pub in Bancyfelin, therefore the nickname. Pic of the handshake here from yesterday, thanks beeb, you sometimes get it right,

  • Ehtch

    Don’t want to say anything here, but, quite a few live aroundabouts Tenby, I have heard and met. Some from NI.

    Feel free to post Alastair, but it is true, I am perceptive in such matters. All doing ok, and enjoying their retirement. Not yet needed to call them in yet for “discretions”..

    I am fucking about by the way, or am I? rub chin : )

    another spy whatever modern vid,

  • reaguns

    Ehtch so where do you stand on this one, I have heard people say that:

    – Our economy was not in a bad state in 2008

    But also, from the same people sometimes:

    – Reagan and Thatcher created this problem with their neoliberal economics 20 years ago.

    Obviously it can’t be both so which is it? Did Reagan and Thatcher create the problem, in which case labour are guilty for failing to fix it in 11 years, or was our economy in a fine state in which case Reagan and Thatcher are off the hook.

    Much as I hate to play the game of talking about Reagan/Thatcher or Reagan and Thatcher as if they are the same.

    Thatcher lost 2 million jobs in the UK (though she later recovered a lot of them but tell that to the people who went years without), whereas Reagan created 21 million jobs in the US.

  • Ehtch

    Michael Caine in the same quandry, as you do,

    No need to get in a panic, number one, we are still singing from the same hymn sheet, so no need for any establishment hysteria.

  • Ehtch

    Pete and Tom is not the route please, even if they were financially screwed by peeps, but surprising you now, wads of cash is coming in now from their talents. Hang on in there.

  • Ehtch

    reaguns, capitalism is shite, shall we start off from there, and then explore.

    Thatcher and Reagan were capitalist users, and tried the rest of us to be drug users – don’t remember that, do you? I did.

    Those two were nasty pastys, glad one of them has buggered off, and the other don’t know whether she has pissed her knickers or not these days.

    We are more healthy these days, know if we want to snort the north pole trail, we know the dangers, as in your ticker won’t like it,

  • Anonymous

    Its either equality or capitalism Ehtch, I would prefer equality but no one ever believes in equality once I tell them what we would need to do in order to achieve it. No more competition, therefore no more chasing blondes in bars, mates will be drawn out of a hat. No more young thugs breaking into pensioners houses once the pensioners are armed. The idea never gains much traction. So we are stuck with capitalism.