07 April 2010

Memo to Lord Mandelson: Wednesday 7th April

Dear Peter,

With your permission and due to popular demand, these memo’s will continue during the campaign.

The choreographed day went off fairly well.  Mind you, Cameron did rather jump the gun with his little speech before Gordon could step out into the Downing Street sunshine.  His stunt displayed a streak of arrogance, which you will have noted.

However, there are several matters that require your attention:

  1. Neil Kinnock’s appearance on Today was not a good idea.  Nobody needs reminding of the 1992 campaign, especially Gordon Brown, who was partly responsible for its failure.  Best to keep the former leader away from the media spotlight;
  2. Both Charlie Whelan and Ed Balls popped up on the TV.  These two are hardily vote winners and you should find other small matters to occupy their time during the campaign;
  3. There was criticism from ‘inside the beltway brigade’ about Brown appearing with the Cabinet in Downing Street.  Do ignore these noises off at all times.  Your idea was effective and played well on the telly, but you wasted valuable time in deciding where they should all stand.
  4. Congratulations on convincing Brown to cancel his trip to see Obama;
  5. Cameron's ‘The Great Ignored’ wheeze needs to be tackled without delay.  Take a minute to read Hopi Sen’s blog.  It’s good stuff;
  6. Your much used quote: “The election will be between the granite-like resilience and big brain of Gordon Brown or the plastic PR and wobbliness of David Cameron”, needs to be refined.  The “big brain” phase should be dropped before it is mocked on the blogosphere and elsewhere;
  7. Be careful when you say use the NHS against Cameron.  For obvious reasons, this will not go down well.
  8. It maybe a bit early to pass judgement, but the stage-managed trips that you have organised for Gordon need to be tweaked.  As his confidence grows during the campaign, you should allow him, if the security boys don’t object, to mix with the travelling public.  Also, Brown does need to answer the tough questions as he tours the country;
  9. You will have noticed that the media have already gone in ‘operation information overload’ before the campaign officially starts next Monday.  They need to be fed small morsels, so they don't get bored and start digging around for stories that will cause trouble; and
  10. It’s important that Brown performs well at PMQs and the troops leave for battle in good heart.  Prepare some good jokes for Gordon to use.  If they are well timed, they will work wonders on a day when Cameron may well misread the mood of the Commons and get all serious.

One other general matter.  YouGov are reporting that 43% of the public are already bored with campaign.  Hopefully, you come up with something innovative to engage their interest.

Have a good day.

Best wishes,

Events Dear Boy, Events

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  1. Neil Kinnock is best kept for the results programs after the election when there are hours of TV to fill. He is uniquely qualified for that role.

    Personally, I was not very impressed with the set speech outside number 10.

    The choreography made them look like a bunch of kids trying to line up for a school photo, not a group of serious political leaders.

    Who were all those people behind Brown anyway? People in the real world only recognize a small number of cabinet members. It kind of lost the 'vote for the devil you know' and 'no time for a novice' arguments for me.

    What was with Brown's head turning during the speech. Very unnerving and made him look untrustworthy, kind of like when someone is lying and wont look you in the eye. Somebody needs to get him a better body language coach.

    Overall, I think it would have been better with a shorter, more direct speech to the camera with just one or two cabinet heavy hitters behind him.

    I think the 'great ignored' line is a forgettable phrase and best ignored. Responding to it would just give Cameron more publicity.

    PMQ's wont win any votes either way. It's more about rallying the troops and making sure he doesnt let the other side score any goals.

    AJ was off message in his interview afterwards. Brown used the 'I'm a normaly guy from a middle class background' line and AJ said it doesnt matter what background you come from as you cant choose your parents. Oops.

    So Howard, to clarify, are Prime Ministers supposed to tell jokes or not?

  2. It seems that PM does read this blog.

    Events Dear Boy: What the punters want to know is why the Tory policies don't add up. For example, the last time National Insurance went up, employment grew.

    From Iain Dale: (PM) then proceeded to assert that the NIC increase could actually create jobs (no, really) on the basis that when they did it last time in 2002 employment went up the following year. I was having none of that and pointed out to Lord M that we weren't in a recession then, and that as the only one with a mic on who actually runs a business, if my cost base was added to in this manner it was more likely to encourage me to shed staff than employ new ones. He didn't have an answer to that.

  3. NonnyMouse - thanks for your comments, which are appreciated. I very much doubt if PM reads my blog, but Hopi Sen does. His views are important as he closely connected to the Labour party.

    Good jokes are useful if they used in the right circumstances, but not cheap ones.

  4. Interesting stuff. Can I disagree on a couple of minor points

    1. You might want the public to not remember Kinnock losing the 1992 election, but surely you want them to remember it as an election.

    2. I don't see how giving only small amount of info to hacks is going to keep them from being bored. Isn't an alternative to overwhelm them, the way Blair used to to in his press conferences, or Spiderman does in just about every fight with Electro. (So you want power? Why not have ALL the power! Kzzzzz.)

    3. Memo's? Was Tom Freeman right? http://viva-freemania.blogspot.com/2010/03/apostrophes-method-to-their-wrongness.html

  5. CS Clark - your point 2. Mandelson has answered that point in speech this morning.