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Poor old Cameron thinks twitter and David Letterman can rescue him from lack of success or strategy

Posted on 25 September 2012 | 8:09am

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.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Worse than Greece.
    I give the PM a fair hearing on the economy based on facts.
    According to the Telegraph UK deficit is set to be bigger than Greece´s!
    Back in 2010 Messrs Cameron and Osborne said that without huge PUBLIC SECTOR CUTS Britain would face the fate of Greece.
    This, of course, was 24-carat rubbish as Britain´s debt was 53.5% of GDP, Greece´s 120%.
    But now thanks to “celebrated” plan A Britain´s deficit will total £126bn, 7.8% of GDP, in 2013-14.
    My source for this is Morgan Stanley.
    Greece´s deficit will only be 6.3%.
    Britain´s deficit will be the highest in Europe. Austerity has lead to falling tax revenues and rising benefits.
    The deficit is INCREASING! The coalition will not be able to meet its targets on debt and deficit by 2015.
    UK government borrowing was at record high in August. Deficit has widened 22% this year.
    Eurozone is not to blame. Britain´s exports have been doing well, and the weakness in the economy started earlier.
    Plan A has led to double-dip recession.
    New Labour did not overspend as the debt was only 36% of GDP before the financial crisis, and structural deficit averaged zero between 1997-2007.
    Austerity has killed demand.
    Mervyn King, who backed plan A together with IMF, OECD, prominent businessmen etc, now says it will be OK for Osborne to miss targets.
    Back in 2010 we were told that bond markets would panic and interest rates would go up without austerity.
    But to emerge from recessions major economies need a prolonged fiscal stimulus lasting years.
    Osborne and OBR have overestimated the power of monetary policy. To tighten fiscal policy further will result in even weaker growth.
    The PM must now make a choice between casino capitalism and new high-tech, green economy.
    Economic elites are not interested in developing a home economy.
    Treasury sees Britain as future bankers to Beijing. It also backs high-frequency trading.
    Verdict: plan A has failed.

  • Anonymous

    David Letterman? Dave on there? oh gawd, it will be a laugh, and make us brits more reinforced brit twits to the yanks. Oh gawd lawd forbid!!

    Dr Sheldon Cooper, what do you have to say about this?

    As I thought…

  • Anonymous

    .. sing soft kitty to me, Dave Letterman,

    please please please! No Dave, you are the PM of GB and NI, no, I won’t!

  • “The things the government is doing well on welfare and pensions”. A Goyaesque nightmare visited on those least to be blame for our present circumstance by those wishing only to further the interests of those who caused it. We have a long winter ahead of us.

  • I’m cringing already. DC is one of those embarrassing people who think they’re funny. He’s not. He misjudges the audience and leaves them either baffled or offended.

    This has got car crash TV written all over it.

  • Anonymous

    Andy Coulson is the person by the way in case no one else mentions it.

  • Anonymous

    “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”
    While I agree with this, I am quite sure Alastair thinks the same thing about Ed Miliband. I am sure he likes Ed Miliband, even if he would prefer David Miliband, like myself, but he must think that having no policies, no numbers to put on how much stimulus he would enact, no joining up of predators and producers, predistribution etc leaves the Labour leader looking even worse, and as Alastair says – this is worse for an opposition leader than an incumbent.
    I don’t see why we shouldn’t force leaders to appear every quarter on the main news outlets for interview, with the interviewer of the network choice, not the PM. I’d love to see Cameron vs Humphreys, vs Paxman, and especially vs Andrew Neil (who chewed him up and spat him out on their only encounter years back.)

  • Anonymous

    I actually think Twitter will help him enormously, if and only if he goes on as himself. I think anyone with the political nous of Tony Blair, David Cameron, Ed Miliband will come across well on Twitter. The best are those who respond to comments though, he will never do this, and this will dilute the impact quite severely, defeat the purpose almost.
    After all you can send a message out on twitter, but you don’t actually want to converse with the plebs, do you old bean.

  • Anonymous

    Ach! that is better – panic over Alastair.

    Did some moving and shaking on my PC and got rid of that problem. Seems someone sent me down a bug via my ip address, name no names.And thanks Bry from up the road for doing cross-checks against my kettle, to confirm where the problem was. Bluddy Mitt and Cameron and their fun and games, paranoidically!

    Got to watch out for them.

  • Anonymous

    In other words desperate measures. Poor Old David won’t be on my #followfriday list and I can’t wait for Letterman to work his magic. Give David Cameron enough rope………………..

  • I believe that for government figures to be received well in media events such as being interviewed on train journeys about their job or for appearing on Letterman in the US, the public has to feel they have earned the right to do this.

    During the omni-shambles Cameron was interviewed on a train by Nick Robinson. This did not improve public perception of him or the government by one iota. The reason for this was, I believe, that Cameron did not have the “right” in the public’s eye to be in that media event. The public felt that Cameron should be sorting out the omni-shambles, not spending time being interviewed on a train. If Cameron had successfully solved the omni-shambles and everyone was certain it was never going to happen again, maybe then would have been a good time to be interviewed on the train. He would have “earned” the right in the public’s eye to be in a media event.

    Now Cameron does not have the “right” to be in a TV chat show. In government he is increasingly seen as weak and out of control. The public does not think he had anything to do with the success of the Olympics. When Cameron appears on Letterman I think the public will think this is as an alternative action to what he should be doing which is taking control of his government. An alternative to populating his cabinet with people he wants there rather than people he fears.

  • Anonymous

    Oh shove it Alastair, where are you now, again

    So why don’t I not post a link et francais le Rayon Verte, film complet, et c’est génial pour nous Grande-Bretagne, n’est-ce pas, Alastair?

    Tres bien buckets, qui, Monsiour Campbell? Me pas simplement dire? Si non, pourquoi pas, mon ami, c’est magique, non? Rappelle dames à partir de là, oui?

    Travelle, basically!

  • Michele

    Letterman can hardly poke Dave about hereditary privilege and lack of the need for expertise though can he?
    I wonder if the ‘pleb debackle’ will feature?
    ‘Patrician’ should.

  • Each time we hear a government announcement of almost any sort, they just look more and more desperate. Cameron playing Angry Birds, using his app to run the Cabinet or spending time on Twitter, merely reinforces our view of him as a shallow PR man, overly obsessed with his own image and out of his depth in the highest office of state.

    The country is in serious trouble with our GDP still 4% below the level it was four years ago, when the crisis hit. The coalition inherited falling unemployment and a growing economy. We had a strong public sector and planned infrastructure spending designed to nurture our economy back to health. The two parties which ‘came together in the interests of the country’ have succeeded in making the situation a damn sight worse than it was before. The deficit is going up, growth is flat-lining at best, crucial government investment has been slashed, while funds are switched to pay for hundreds of thousands of people needlessly cast aside

  • Michele

    Such a relevant last sentence.

    I feel permanently curious about why Osbo is still in post, I’ll be walking down the road and ping!!!! it jumps in to my mind again and I almost explete (a real word?) or spit at strangers.
    There HAS to be some reasoned explanation but I’ll be danged if it makes any sense.

  • Whoops! I was getting so angry in my last comment I accidentally clicked ‘Post’ before I finished!

    I was going to go on to say that Cameron may well think ‘Twitter will allow him to reach voters directly’ but it also works the other way around. Bring it on! Millions of very angry voters will be able to put some direct questions to him in a public way. His lack of, or inadequate responses will be there for all to see.
    There is a huge swell of public opinion totally opposed to his NHS reforms and I certainly won’t be the only one to put the obvious question to him; why did he deceive voters by hiding his intentions on the NHS?

    I’ve probably been blocked already!

  • Gilliebc

    I thought it was that other guy, Hilton or something.

  • Anonymous

    I find David Letterman rather witty, but let’s face it, he has all sorts on his show, including beagles pretending to be dead:

    I can’t see Call Me Dave being half so entertaining.

  • Gilliebc

    Janet Daley has today written quite a damning blog about Tory Toffs! And praising the good manners and memories of Labour politicians. Here’s the link:

  • Michele

    BBC2 has just shown its ‘put our yellow balls in one box or the other’ quiz at a Lib Dem Conference.

    So …… words to effect of ‘Next time round would you chaps prefer to be in coalition with Cons or Lab?’.

    Jeremy Browne (whose honking presentation always suggests ‘The Vehement’) asked for two of the balls.

    Ho hum.

  • Dave Simons

    I seem to remember David Cameron made disparaging remarks about Twitterers not so long ago. He was being interviewed by some grovelling, guffawing TV journalist and he distinctly said, ” How many Twits does it take to make a Twat”. He really did say it – it’s on record and there’s no point in him doing an Andrew Mitchell and effectively calling me a liar. There was some uneasiness at the time about the old-fashioned sexism of the comment, not good for the ‘rebranded’ Nasty Party.

  • Michele

    A R4 host reminded us this morning of Caitlin Moran’s description of DC – a robot made of ham.

    I know I shouldn’t but Teeheeeeeeeeeeee and yes, I’m glad to be out of her line of fire 🙂

    PS: She must have meant the slimy sort that comes out of polythene bleugh.

  • Gilliebc

    Michele, I do understand your frustration and exasperation regarding Osbo and what he is doing and more importantly what he is not doing. Thousands of others feel the same way, including me. There is indeed a reasoned explanation of his actions and inactions. But, I’m afraid you would neither like nor even consider it, because it involves what you would deem a so-called conspiracy theory!

  • Michele

    I think we know Dave and Osbo are bezzy friends and there’s some horrible hangover from childhood involving compass points and mingled blood …. barf, probably also some grey shorts wrapped in tissue paper in each of their wardrobes but I think you have something more and much more grown up in mind!!

    We don’t need suspicions of a CT to be able to make a pretty good guess that there was more than the £3m left by Dave’s Dad and it didn’t need declaring as it’s off shore but I don’t think that equates to a CT does it?
    CTs have to be mammoth, international, involving ‘bergs’ and bats and owls and people that sleep in coffins don’t they?

  • Michele

    I wonder if Abu Hamza will feature?
    Poor Frank Gardner 🙁

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think Hilton fits the newspaper bit of the description, Coulson does. Both have left though.
    Some say Stuart Pearson in The Thick Of It represents Steve Hilton!

  • Anonymous

    Saw Andrew Neil earlier douse any last vestiges of excitement about the interview tonight pointing out that American interviewers in general are soft as shite, both Leno and Letterman are. For God’s sake not only Tony Blair, but Boris Johnson and even George W Bush enhanced their reputations on that show! Cameron is not as agile as Blair, but he is more agile than the other two. I doubt if Letterman will land a punch. I hope he does. I hope it is not left to others to spin misses into punches afterwards.
    There’s a reason why Cameron does Marr and now Letterman but won’t do Paxman or Neil.

  • Gilliebc

    Yeah, I reckon you are right about it being Coulson, for the reason you give. I’ve never seen The Thick of It. tbh. I’m way behind with my viewing just lately. Hard-drive recorder is almost at full capacity. I may have to bite the bullet and delete some stuff from it.

  • Gilliebc

    Yes I did have something bigger in mind, naturally (lol).
    But got very distracted by your first paragraph about ‘grey shorts wrapped in tissue paper’ and the rest of it 😉
    You’re quite right when you say CTs have to be ‘mammoth, international,…..’ they don’t necessarily have to involve ‘bergs’ but it’s always a help, plus a good helping of child sacrifice too – always a winner! I am joking btw.
    Seriously though, you and others surely must be asking yourselves, why this gov. seem to be hell-bent on bringing this country and its people to the edge of a mighty big precipice.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like a pretty damp squib of an interview. He didn’t know a few things about Rule Britannia and couldn’t say what the magna carta meant. No surprise there, he also doesn’t know what sovereign control of borders and laws means, nor that its fine to get your best mate a job, as long as its not Chancellor of the Exchequor.

  • Anonymous

    So that’s Letterman rolled over. Perhaps twitter can provide some stiffer questioning… but more likely not.

  • Anonymous

    Oh lawd, it did happen then. No full clip of it yet, give it a few more hours. But here is the intro – quite patronising, as usual with across the water,

    And he did make a bit of an arse of himself, with not knowing who wrote and composed Rule Britannia, as well as not knowing what Magna Carta means in english. I even knew that, and to think Dave had latin books stuffed down his throat at school since young, no doubt – very bad show there Dave.

  • Anonymous

    Twitterers do seem to be attention seekers though, on the whole, aren’t they?

    Not you Alastair, of course, honest…..

  • Anonymous

    Looks like he has used some of that rope Judith. He was a bit of a plank in that interview this morning, our time.

  • Anonymous

    This is quite interesting,

    I am somewhat to blame in this – I must be well up the list of teaching “britishisms” to the yanks in the last ten years, since the uprise of youtubby.

    I have interacted with them, and, on the whole(!), they find me quite amusing. I have even read a yank come out with “quite amusing” to one of his yank mates a short while after I interacted with him, after he called me a limey, when he pointed out I should be spelling yankie yankee, or something. : )

    But with americanisms, the one pedantically that “winds me right up”, is “kids”. Children they are, ol’ boy! If I hear again a bbc drama, where in Islington, say, the mother says to father “I am taking the kids to school”, before jumping into her “eco-friendly” four by four, it will be too soon.

  • Anonymous

    …even even furthermore, when in an US air force base in the UK in the 1980’s, RAF Fairford, asked this US Sergeant in the mess/canteen where the gents was, and he looked at me puzzled, so I expanded, and explained I wanted a piss, a wazzle, urinate, and he said “OHH, the head, it is over there fella”.

    Yanks, ey?

  • Maybe one reason why Osborne is still there is that if Oborne were removed there might be a sense of “and then there was one”. The “two posh boys” statement has been powerful but as well as referring to Osborne and Cameron’s class it also identifies them together as a united duo. I think this may be true to reality, that they are indeed a double act (if not comedic). If one were to go then we would feel the other would soon follow.

  • Mark Wright

    Anybody with a half a modicum of familiarity with David Letterman would know that issuing a press release stating that “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.” would only serve to ensure that Letterman and his people would pull every trick in the book to prevent Cameron from turning his appearance into a PR stunt for GB.
    Letterman’s genius is that by playing dumb he makes his guests look even dumber. Watching the interview one could sense Cameron’s sense of dread rising within as question after question revealed his inability to verbally joust with one of the finest, sharpest wits ever to have graced our television sets.
    This appearance highlights what I’ve always believed of Cameron: he is not funny, he is not a great communicator and he is not very good at veering off the script.
    These things matter.
    If Cameron can be beaten by Letterman then what hope have we for the international trade deals he’ll be negotiating during his tour of the Americas?
    And another conclusion that won’t have escaped Dave’s motley crew I’m sure when comparing Dave’s appearance to that of his erstwhile colleague the Mayor of London…that Boris did better, much better.
    Here are the links to Cameron’s appearance: 1/2 2/2

  • Gilliebc

    Ehtch, I agree with what you say on the word ‘kids’ I don’t like it either. Even though I’ve probably used that word myself on more than one occasion. It’s a lazy way of referring to children. The word grandkids is used quite a lot as well. They are children, i.e. human off-spring. Not the off-spring of goats.

  • Gilliebc

    Michele, Re. Frank Gardner. I’ve already made the following point elsewhere, but I think it’s worth repeating here on this site.
    Frank Gardner is an experienced professional, there’s no way he would have blurted out what he said without prior permission. The Queen obviously has opinions on things just like the rest of us. But because of her position she can’t just come out with her views and opinions. So it’s likely she took the traditional route of ‘letting it be known’ this time via FG.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t want to say it yet, since I watched it on pirate telly this morning, but he was asked about Wales, and his lack of MPs there.

    But since a fuller vid has yet to be posted by my friend youtubby, how about a welsh song for Mrs Mitt and Hillary, since they are full of welsh blood, from our neck of the woods, to make them grab their hankies, ey Dave Letterman?

    Just give me a shout, both, if you are bored, especially Hillary – three in a bed? Ok, you name the tune, I’ll sing it… Confordentiality assured, ladies, you have my word on that. I am sure we can sort out the details, ladies, don’t worry.

  • Anonymous

    Black as the ace of spades this US Sergeant was, so it was doubly difficult for me, he WAS from the south, let me tell you that, I can tell that much – is it called a can down by there? Anyway, a song for him, non-PC,

    HEY yeh, come on?

  • Michele

    I’m not as worried about the bankers as I am about those that use the crisis and the ownership of most banks as cover for something else that (hopefully or frighteningly?) their sucky-uppy admirers don’t even realise they’re being roped in to.

    I don’t think the early followers of what eventually happened in Germany had any idea at all of what they were being dragged in to.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, goats come to my mind too Gilliebc, glad I am not alone with this one.

    Do you remember George “dubious” Bush coming out with “linkage” in every other speech once, as meaning “being linked to”? That used to wind be up too. Who was his speech writer, is all I ask, Mark Twain?

  • Anonymous

    And what happened to this, a hunger event, after the Olympics? Did they hold it and I missed it in the press and media, or was it just a cheap publicity stunt by Dave, at the time?

    Methinks the later. What a shallow man.

  • Anonymous

    Oops, well done, missed this post. Posted full link on next blog thread too, in one though it is, not that that makes any difference, he sounds like a plank all the same. Came over smarmy, and as sophiscated brit as a plateful of tripe, didn’t he?

    Not quite Winnie Churchill, ey?

  • Anonymous

    More Winnie here, if you can’t get, enough, on the lackies, then known as, nazzies…

  • Anonymous

    Oops, something went wrong there, Winnie as here, I mean, him being more, on, the nazzies,

  • Michele

    I disagree but not to worry, am away soon so won’t be able to follow up.

  • Anonymous

    This is a brilliant Winnie speech, from 1939, ten weeks after Poland, before he became PM, when all found Chamberlain didn’t have it in him, to fight the nazzie and Hitlerism,

  • reaguns

    I’m thinking of buying one!

  • Gilliebc

    Ehtch, you need to bear in mind that both sides were financed by the same people. Wars are nothing more than a great big con. There is much evidence to suggest that Hitler never intended or even wanted war with us Brits.
    David Irving is a great source of info. on this particular topic. Unlike ‘official’ historians who simply perpetuate myths to fit with the offical narative that feeds us plebs lies and propaganda, DI, rather than simply copy and tow the line, like other historians, actually gets his much more accurate info. by trawling through the archives, diaries and letters of the people directly involved. He has also talked to many of the people involved. His first book about the fire-bombing of Dresden was a world-wide best seller. His other books on Churchill and Hitler and WW2 have also been best-sellers. No wonder the establishment have fought such a ferocious and long campaign against him. They don’t want the truth to come out. There are recordings of most of DI’s talks on YT. Very well worth a listen/watch for anyone who is seeking the truth.

  • Anonymous

    Yes Gillebc, agreed, but we all have our own personal reasons for the disgrace on humanity that was WWI and WWII.

    My view is Europe didn’t like, and couldn’t cope with, the rise of US financial wealth from the turn of the twentieth century. It was as if the cowboys had rode in, drinking borbon and gambling, and killing their own with bank failures on their Main Streets.

    Teddy Roosevelt had a big job in sorting out cowboy banks in the first decade when he was President, in between shooting lions in Africa, of course….

    As you said, you have got to look through the crud that some well paid historians have told us, and judge it on basic humanity traits. Greed and sitting back and doing nothing gaining wealth is the usual.