So the hills (possibly – can anyone on the ground advise?) of Crewe are alive with Labour’s death rattle. Llamas, top hats and the discarded husks of activist consciences litter the landscape.
Those responsible for the various Class Hatred for Dummies-style japes (“You’d better ask the experts about that,” says the local Labour leader) are claiming the tactics have worked inasmuch as they have successfully moved the debate on from the 10p fudge. And there are plenty of hard heads in the Lib Dem campaigning teams, I’m sure, who would nod approvingly at this.
While we’re on this subject, sometimes I wonder if the whole “game” of politics isn’t being played out between three tag teams of a very small number of rather unpleasant people with breath problems while the rest of us, members, politicians and all, just look on in slack-jawed dismay and then go back to having a nice chat to people on doorsteps, or reading up on the Swedish education system or whatever it might be. Somewhere along the line these guys and gals have convinced us that we need them, that hard-headed reality means unpleasant campaigning, that maintaining integrity and arguing the case at hand is for wimps, that ”sunshine and flowers” politics never, ever works. Of course, they’re absolutely right about that. Because they know their opposite numbers are counselling exactly the same things to the other two, and what one does, all must do. And so the world turns. Time for a Golgafrincham B Ark solution, do you think?
But I digress. As others have pointed out (James Graham did, commenting somewhere, but I can’t find the reference now. What am I, the Economist sub? UPDATE: Oh, it’s here look. On his blog. Didn’t look there.), this is not a particularly exceptional Labour campaign. The difference is that this time it’s being done in the eye of the national media. And it would please me enormously if it turned out that the Labour attack dogs had made a miscalculation. Suppose the impact of having their local smear tactics far more widely reported than usual should outweight the benefit derived from them in the by-election? Suppose the effects reach far into the future, so that national newspapers in 2010 will be keeping a weather eye out for similar behaviour and respond with prim disgust?
Because the Grauniad, for one, is already pretty disgusted. It’s been like watching a tense psychodrama, watching Labour’s fall from grace over the past few years - and in accelerated form the past six months - play out over its left-leaning pages. The incredulous article linked above is Guardian stuff, par for the course now in its exposure of Labour weakness and indulgent quotation of Tories (we get a really quite baleful half-dozen lines towards the end, a couple of which are about cats).
Open up any Polly Toynbee or Jackie Ashley piece on Comment is Free over the past six weeks and you’ll find (a) that they concede all may not be quite well chez Labour and (b) that people are dancing with either glee or a sort of manic bitterness in the comments columns, depending on their affiliation: it’s OVER, Polly/Jackie! they scream, exultantly/desperately, Labour tried and failed, and now we’re going to get a Tory government back, and everything will be wonderful/shrouded in evil darkness! And it’s all YOUR doing!
And it’s getting to them, I think. The failure. The breakdown. Making them a little crazy. Because they’ve locked themselves so passionately into the two-party consensus, there’s only one logical direction for a Labourite journalist witnessing the downfall of their identifier politics: try and see the good in the Other Side. If Labour is bad, Tories must be getting better, right? Seize on anything, anything…
People who want to seize on anything deserve to be spun to. And while Labour, mother of spin, might be on her last legs, her evil progeny is alive and well and stalking the land like a giant stalking thing, and it has just claimed its first victim of the Tory era in Michael White.
Such is White’s desperation to find anything in contemporary politics with any resonance for his beliefs that he writes as follows about Their Dave’s slip last week in saying “Nuneaton when he meant “Nantwich”, as in “Crewe and…”:
What was interesting was Cameron’s own response. As I recall it he raised his hands in mock-horror, turned around without pausing and stuck his head in the nearest bush. I thought it was funny, both self-deprecating and self-confident, a Monty Python-inspired moment.
We like our politicians to be human (not too human, mind you), and most try to be, albeit with varying success. I thought this was a glimpse of how Dave must be with his kids and thought the better of him for it.
And I really can’t improve on this commenter’s response, try as I might:
I’ve noticed a change in you. You are beginning to see the merit in Cameron and co. Its one thing to see the inevitability of the Tories returning to power after 11/12 years of Labour, but to show respect to such a shallow crowd is bizarre. Remember Cameron is the same man who cycled to work while followed by his car. He is still the rich boy who has millions in property but has worked for only 2 years outside Parliament. He knows nothing about working class fears and aspirations other than what he learns from focus groups.
Do you seriously think he has any solutions for the future of the UK? Can you tell me what he really believes in? Give me one coherent policy? Is Britain going to be governed by privileged members of the Bullingham club? Is this Britain’s answer to the challenges of globalisation?
Please don’t be impressed by someone who cleverly tries to diffuse an error by sticking his head in a bush. I would have done that. I’m very good at PR, but I’m not someone to vote for.
Hoorah for one “jgall33″, and RIP Michael White’s self-respect and powers of discrimination.
The trouble with the media is that they believe their own publicity. And when it becomes clear that it’s all a made-up sham they just make up some more. Because the alternative would be the dawn of realisation, then a lot of screaming with terror at the monsters they create on a daily basis, and finally the well-known running-away-to-Peru-to-live-as-a-goat stage, never to read or write a word again. They won’t of course. They’ll all stay sat in front of their Apple Macs like mediums in a collective trance and gradually, unbidden, their twitchy fingers will start shaping out, “Yeah, I really quite like Dave Cameron…”
Hold tight. Here we go again…