23 February 2010

Harold Wilson knew how to it

Having dominated the airwaves for a day, the old master’s reputation appears to be improving.  John Rentoul has been reminded of a quote that he made:

When Harold Wilson thought it inadvisable to say anything, he would say: "No comment." If he were pressed by journalists eager even then to fill space, he would say: "No comment, in Technicolor."

The important point is that Wilson made this comment when the Profumo scandal broke.  He just refused to get involved.  Cameron could learn much from the four-times-election-winner.

As an aside, Wilson’s former press secretary, Trevor Lloyd-Hughes, died the other day:

Lloyd-Hughes was not a committed Labour supporter, but Wilson wanted to continue the tradition of an apolitical No 10 press office. As such, Lloyd-Hughes operated in a context worlds away from that of the proactive and abrasive Bernard Ingham (who served Margaret Thatcher) and Alastair Campbell (who served Tony Blair).

Wilson just did the spin himself.

As a reminder, this is one of Wilson’s more famous quotes, made at the time of an attempted coup:

May I say, for the benefit of those who have been carried away by the gossip of the last few days, that I know what's going on. [pause] I'm going on, and the Labour government's going on.

It killed the plot stone dead.

While we are on all matters Wilson, there is something else.

As the story goes, Wilson would make his annual trip to see HMQ at Balmoral to coincide with the start of the Tory conference.  To disrupt proceedings at the seaside, Wilson would feed a few trusted journalists that he was seeking a dissolution.   It worked a treat.

The Tories are holding their unnecessary spring (it’s still winter) conference next weekend.

Cameron should be aware of this old trick, because there is little doubt Mandelson will be preparing something for the weekend.

Harold Wilson was A Class Act.




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