Thursday, February 19, 2009

Alan Johnson attacks

Now, I’m never entirely certain as to the efficacy of the black arts of political propaganda and ‘lines to take’.  Surely, however, this is one of those things, like mushrooms, that grow best in the dark.  Allowing a new line of attack to appear, as if from nowhere, and insinuate itself into the minds of the people – that’s surely the goal.  Can I think of any examples?  I suppose the Tories’ attempts to exploit the inability of Brown to say sorry for anything might be a good one.  First you create situations which demand an apology, then you highlight Brown’s failure to offer one.  Rinse and repeat.

What you surely don’t do is flag up this process in advance.  For all the proverbial idiocy of the people, we don’t tend to like being played like fools, especially if the precise course of that play is laid out for all to see.  So it was a bit of a surprise to see the piece ‘by’ Alan Johnson in today’s Guardian.  Entitled The Cameron veneer: Their leader may sound un-Tory. But his sweet talk on public services hides a reactionary policy the piece sets out the position that, although Cameron seems nice and reasonable, underneath it all is the same old Tory party.

Now this is a plausible and attractive line of attack – certainly better than the toff, chameleon or reactionary lines.  But it’s impact is surely diminished by the fact that Johnson more or less announced that he was going to give this a try a couple of weeks ago.

It just makes it so crashingly obvious that this is just another attempt to find an attack that sticks.  It’s surely letting in too much daylight on the magic of the dark arts.

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