Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New Labour, New substance abuse

A week may be a long time in politics but it ain’t when you’re working… And already just as I post this Brown as shown himself up again. I will post again when the dust settles and I’ve had a chance to listen to what has was said in Rochdale today.

No chance to write during the last week and one day I’m hoping to get a chance to write about the ‘issues’, but I’m always taken by the live debates, and the relentless spin. There’s just not enough time in the day and with so much bull***t to decipher, it’s been hard work, so I’ve been sifting through it this week.

I’d rather spend my time off work doing very little, but some of the stuff they’re spouting really gets my goat.

I was trying to write over the weekend, but it was sunny and I thought seriously about going into the streets and haranguing some canvassers. I mean that incident with Prescott and the Tory councillor last week looked like fun.

Obviously trying to drum up some of the high-jinx from the 2001 glory days.


Never to return…


Pale imitation…

A major issue for Labour this week has been the media coverage. Well it’s been an issue for me as well, the fact that they talk non-stop about the issues and this mysterious ‘substance’.

Alastair Campbell (and many, many more Labourites) is constantly banging on about “substance” and getting on to the issues, but spends all his time blogging talking about ‘substance’ or on Twitter doing the same. And how much substance can you get in 140 characters? It’s barely a sentence. Here are some recent extracts from @campbellclaret, the first two during the second debate:

“GB walking it on substance”

“Cameron winning on waffle”

‘Walking it on substance’? Are they drug testing these events…?

And I like this one:

“GB strong in 2nd debate but can we please get onto policy in media?”

Pesky media, always looking at the candidates, when Labour have a got a duff one. Don’t remember this kind of moaning when they were ahead in the polls and Tony Blair fronted the show.

I know it’s not necessarily the likes of Campbell who needs to talk about the policy; he could say he’s directing attention to policy and what Gordon Brown has to say on it. But when I hear what he does have to say I don’t get a feeling for the ‘substance’, more on that later.

I think Campbell fully acknowledges the irony of what he’s doing, talking about talking about the issues, but never actually talking about the issues. Twittering away to his heart’s content, again along with so many others.

As it always has been with New Labour, it is a simple matter of saying things enough times, hoping that people will believe it. All about the spin.

If Campbell could send out a mind control signal; “Vote Labour (And buy my book…)” I honestly believe he would. Or perhaps if he could put some sort of serum in the water. Maybe the next election, when Mandelson has had more time to perfect it in his laboratory.

Mandelson’s second home

Only joking. This is his real second home.

He’s in the process of renovations and I think he was recently quoted as saying “Soon it will be fully operational…”

And then we will pay, for everything…!

Following the first debate and some of the allegations aimed at Nick Clegg by the right wing press, Peter Mandelson has accused the Tories over the matter

Some have even made suggestions that Mandelson has shown ‘sympathy’ for Mr Glegg. No, I very much doubt it. He’s not capable of human emotion…

Anyway I like Twitter for these political purposes, in fact I think it’s brilliant. A real chance of engagement with people you see in the media. I’m not sure what attention the politicians, supporters and commentators, pay to the average person’s replies to ‘Tweets’, but it is an opportunity for everybody to get involved and an interesting platform, certainly new to British electioneering. Pity Mandelson’s not on there…

So the second debate, well for some balance I’ve got to say Cameron is actually looking a little out of his depth, which is bizarre considering the shouting match that happens weekly in Prime Minister’s Question Time. Maybe he needs hundreds of toffs sat behind him jeering and guffawing. Reminds him of his schools days… Well surely someone can tell him to imagine that’s happening???

After the success of Clegg looking directly into camera, and apparently into the very souls of some viewers, Cameron has obviously been advised to give it a go. With his first turn in the last debate, halfway through, he mechanically turned to the camera.

“And I would say to…


I thought this was Cameron’s game! He has his moments yes, but they’re patchy and at times he looks uncertain. I swear when Cameron looks at Clegg, it looks like he’s thinking “Oh, you’re ruining this!”

It’s not a confident winning look.

At least Gordon Brown, apart from the manic smirk, looks relatively natural. He’s naturally a social cretin and it comes across very clearly.

The fact is the other two should be tearing Brown apart, he’s got the record, and he’s made the mistakes. I’m not sure if Cameron will unleash the forces of hell (actually affiliated to the Conservative Party…) on Brown in the last debate, but he has been slightly tame in the first two. Perhaps his advisers have told him to be more positive and tone down the slagging off.

I would hope that changes on the economy, the ammunition is there. I can’t believe on the BBC politics show one commentator said the economy was Brown’s strongest card. Jesus, that’s not saying much for him. A bit like saying Bernie Madoff’s strongest card is his accounting…
I think he meant to imply that he saved us from the brink and the economy is in recovery. I will look at that soon, but I hope Cameron and Clegg do before me.

They need to rip into Brown. I don’t think the positive talk about a “Big Society” has worked. It’s not as catchy as he thinks it sounds, in fact it sounds cartoonish, like a caricature of society… When he tries to give details it doesn’t sound particularly appealing and is actually quite vague, partly because its effectiveness would depend on so innumerable factors.

In the debate he said ‘government has responsibilities’ and then ‘we’ve all got responsibilities’. Oh it’s us again! Not talking about what he can do, just about what we can do for ourselves. Oh cheers mate, so you’re not gonna do f*** all? You want the f***ing job or not?!

Labour have already tried that gig with social justice and social responsibility, it was part of the ‘Third Way’. Did it work? It just proves they are just fighting over the same ground.

So Nick Clegg has won the debates on all counts, it’s undeniable. His style and his debating have been the most natural. I suppose one thing that could be said for Labour is at least they have some dignity and admit their man’s unlikeable. I say ‘some’ dignity.

Labour’s ‘substance’ has become tediously irritating. It is quite clear, as I have alluded to previously, that by substance they mean repeating the same mantras, over and over again. The same things, perhaps with slight variations, repeated ad nauseam.

So let’s look at some of what Brown says, let’s look at some of the ‘substance’:

I’ve mentioned before ‘schools, hospitals, policing’, he has repeated these key words many times, so that people will pick up on them and they stick. I think they might have reined him back on that, “Alright Gordon, that is sounding parrot like now…”

He talks about initiatives and benefits he has and will introduce. They will have told him to be specific in these areas, though the overall effects and outcomes of any such initiative or benefit are essentially intangible; individuals can identify their own benefit and he is being specific by definition, so they can claim he has substance.

But you only have to look at one aspect of that, the fact that they have been in government for 13 years, he has a major advantage over all other parties. No-one else can talk specifically about initiatives they have already introduced.

He talks about the recovery and being a player on the world stage (his G20 influence). Again the advantage of being the incumbent Prime Minister helps in the case of the latter. But considering we’re stumbling out of a deep recession, I still think it means his hands are bloodied over the former.

Of course the G20 influence is dubious. He claimed in the debate to have persuaded Obama to come to the G20 summit, but it is true that it was a global crisis and America’s financial sector was crippled as this was affecting the wider US economy and in turn the world. I think the US and all of the others, would have gone to the party wherever it was held, and it’s quite often you don’t even notice the host at a hastily arranged party.

It’s not like Brown would have been Djing. Those responsibilities would have bee shared between the USA and China, maybe Japan as well. Everyone just wrecked our house…

Jobs have been a focus over the last week. “Jobs, jobs, jobs”, he stated as his priorities recently, I assume to be deliberately reminiscent of Blair’s ‘education, education, education’, not sure if that’s a good idea? I haven’t heard him say it before and though it was only a couple of days ago, he hasn’t reiterated it.
Maybe he just forgot the whole chant he’d been going through with Mandelson and he could only remember ‘Jobs, (Er…) Jobs, Jobs…?’

But “Jobs, jobs, jobs”? Is that public sector, supermarkets and oh it looks like the financial sector is picking up again…? I am going to write more about the employment make up in this country and the so-called “knowledge economy” we now have.

Overall Brown’s substance seems to be ‘spend, spend, spend’ and the Labour party say the Tories will ‘cut, cut, cut’. The questions are now being raised, by the media and think-tanks alike, and might be addressed in this week’s debate; we’re in record debt, so where’s the money coming from? The Tories and LibDems have at least stated the need for quick cuts, but Labour seem to deny this. So they’ll go on spending and racking up the debt?

One of Brown’s most overused sound bites on this issue has been about the Tory cuts and the NIC rise. He says they will take £6 billion pounds out of the economy (saying it is ‘taken out’ depends on a specific definition and which perspective you choose), but he has repeated “six thousand million”, just to SPELL IT OUT TO US, so we’re all sure and can remember it.

‘Oooh that sounds like a lot…’

There is a lot of negative ‘substance’ coming from all of the Labour top brass and a large amount of their campaigning is aimed at attacking the Tories.

But it is the context in which Brown has stated a lot of this ‘substance’, particularly in the debates. Again repetition is vital.

At the beginning of the second debate if said if the election was ‘popularity contest’ then we could count him out. I take issue with this as well; elections have always been partly about ‘popularity’. The most popular candidate wins in a constituency no matter which way you look at it, people don’t go out and vote for a right c*** do they?! Of course a candidate doesn’t have to be liked by everyone, but there has to be some connection with enough voters and it is partly on a personal level.

Brown said in the debate “You might not like me,” ‘but I’m damn good at my job’ was the gist of it. So ‘I’m a c***, but I’m the best!’ Well that’s difficult to prove, Brown being best at the job, but it’s been a ridiculous angle to take and it’s just another thoroughly patronising aspect of their campaigning.

The nation has changed and there is a lot of talk about the debates being X Factor politics but the country has also radically changed socially, economically and politically. Unfortunately I don’t think it has changed as much as it should, but I would hope that Labour couldn’t put a pig up as candidate in one of its safe seats and get it elected.

I think the X Factor claim is a weak argument in this age of digital media and increased social interaction, when in times past bias and prejudice were often more important to gaining votes.

Gordon Brown quite simply struggles to connect. He says ‘If you do the job I do’ and ‘I understand your concerns’ when it sounds like he is actually thinking, ‘but you don’t do my job and you don’t understand; I see the bigger picture.’

Similar to the Tories not wanting to change the First Past the Post system and decrying the idea of a hung parliament, Brown seems to be saying ‘give me a mandate and I will rule you’. ‘You mere mortals do not know what it is involved, but I know what’s best for you’. I think his tone is deeply condescending and he treats the electorate an inconvenience, and we’re ‘tricked’ like so many business leaders.

Mandelson certainly looks at the rest of humanity as such…

Why didn’t they just go for a poster campaign like this?

"Vote for me you w***ers!"

But seriously, this is a man who makes John Major look charismatic… And since he apparently understands his social shortfalls and he wants to have power or influence in government, why didn’t he just become a Civil Servant or an adviser?

Personality does matter in politics and has for a long time. So if a man with limited interpersonal skills is so certain of his right to be the Leader of this country does that make him a megalomaniac…?

Labour were trying to play on the fact that people don’t like him and up until now he had stuck with the ‘I’m your man’ for the job and I am getting on with it and so on. They’ve wanted to focus on his ability and the policies, but it’s clear that hasn’t worked, so this week they wanted to “raise his profile”. He’s the Prime Minister! He’s on the telly everyday and has been in two live debates!

The squirming is sickening.

The truth is I appreciate what Labour are saying, their principles. I supported them in 1997, but then aside from the odd change I saw little substance. They talk about renewal and so on, but they have had 13 years in power. They would of course claim the problem was the world economic crisis, but they can be held accountable for a lot of the problems and things don’t seem to have changed over the last couple of years

From the very beginning New Labour were all about the spin and that has not changed one bit, it’s just been turned into a crude bluff, because they had been rumbled. They know that everyone knows they were all style and no substance, so now the spin is about substance. Their hand was slightly forced because they know their leader has no ‘style’, so their trying to spin it to their own advantage, not very successfully it seems. But just look and you will see…

(Written weekend of 24th April)

Brown’s ‘substance’ includes quotes like; ‘I’m getting on with the job’ and ‘dealing with decisions everyday’ and so on and so on.

In a recent interview David Miliband said they’re trying to “do something”. Never mind everything else; these annoying opposition parties, we’re trying to ‘do something’. Does anyone swallow this b****cks?!

“Hmmm yes, he’s right, they are certainly ‘doing something’ and Gordon Brown is most certainly doing ‘a job’”.

He’s the bloody Prime Minister I should hope he’s doing something (like his ‘utmost’ speech, I should bloody hope so! In fact I expect a bit more. If I got the chance to play premier league football, I’d try to do ‘my utmost’, not sure it would fucking help anyone!). ‘The other two (Cameron and Clegg) are just talking’. Well of course they are. They want the job but they haven’t got it. Should they just walk into Downing Street when he’s groveling to some foreign dignitary and grab the phone out of his hand “Yo Obama! Get this…”?

I might want to be a footballer or a film star, but all I can do is talk about it. I can’t just rock up to a stadium with my boots…

Ok, no need to extend the analogy. The point is… It’s all bull***t. Just wipe it off and look at the ‘substance’. It’s not very substantial…

Those kind of sound bites really get under my skin…

I’ve pieced this blog together over the week, but in the last couple of days Labour have now even gone so far as to say they were going to write to broadcasters to effectively complain about the focus of their coverage. To say that there has been too much coverage of the likes of polls and not enough on the issues.

Well to quote a popular modern phrase, you only sing while you’re winning…

As I said before, not sure they were moaning so much when they had Blair on centre stage.

This time they had to trawl out Elvis…!

Elvis? Really? After all the talk of ‘substance’?

And we know what happened to Elvis, maybe some of that star dust will rub off on Brown…

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