Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Being careful what you wish for

Rather fortuitously, I've spent the last few days on holiday and so managed to avoid most of the infuriatingly inane "crisis" that has engulfed the Coalition. Pasties, and jerry cans and so forth. I suppose it's possible that we'll look back on this and note it as the final turning-point that set Ed Miliband on the road to no.10. But then, if I'd been blogging back in September 2000, I have no doubt that I'd have been writing excitedly that this was the time that William Hague triumphed over his doubters, and was just bound to win the next election.

In any event, something that Martin Ivens wrote in the Sunday Times sparked some sort of synapse. It's something I've been thinking for a while now:

The final irony is that newspapers used to decry Blair’s age of spin, yet when the Tory spin machine proves useless they scream blue murder.

It was an absolutely standard line in all newspapers back in the day about how much they wished for a Government that didn't care so much about presentation. The amount of time and effort Labour spent (particularly in those halcyon early Blair years) on wooing and winning the media was seen as symptomatic of its essential emptiness, and the presence of Alastair Campbell at the heart of the operation was ultimately toxic.

But there is no shortage of journalists who are still loyal to the Blair Government - John Rentoul, obviously, but also chaps like David Aaronovitch and Oliver Kamm. back in the day, of course, there were scores of the blighters (Secretary of State, I'm looking at you). Who do you think are Cameron's outriders in the press? Matt d'Ancona, I suppose, but I'd struggle to come up with many more. How important is this? Well, perhaps not very, at the moment. People (the great majority of them anyway) aren't paying much attention to politics just now. Even when it comes closer to the crunch, I get the impression that the Tories are more impressed by the power of television media than the dead tree press. Perhaps the lack of newspaper cultivation is a deliberate policy? If so, it's a brave one.


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