Thursday, 19 March 2009

Citizen Campbell at the Staggers

On a day like today - when I'm feeling rather like the creaking old horse who would be most kindly served by a sharp bolt to the head - it's surely a chance at inspiration to look and see what sort of a fist Alastair Campbell has made of editing the New Statesman for a week. (After all, I went for a couple of runs this week, my first such in maybe a year, and my calves, thighs and soles are still riven with pain; whereas Mr Campbell, famously, could jog for England, and still seems to get all his writing done, unlike me.)
Campbell's NS editorial is a gee-up speech to get Labour aroused and proactive for the next election. He comes out jabbing with a crack at the Opposition ('The Tories are not that far ahead. More importantly, they are not that good') and for sure that sounds like the forceful, entitled voice of experience, given Campbell's former dynamic position at the heart of government - though, somehow, still, I can't stop thinking that said position was not one to which I or anybody else in the country elected him.
In his view, "the Tories, Lib Dems and nationalist parties are not being subjected to sustained policy attack" and that of course would be his stock-in-trade were he back at the helm, but I'm not sure even Campbell could shoulder-charge the scrutiny away from government all that effectively when nearly every day has the potential to be a Bad News Day. (I mean, I was on a plane yesterday and so read the FT cover to cover... Jesus Christ, pass the revolver.)
AC's big planks, it seems to me:
1. "There has to be an excitement to the pre-manifesto process."
(Seconded, comrade. Let's have a carnival of ideas.)
2. "This government has saved [the NHS], as promised. Yet health – and education – have virtually disappeared from the political battleground..."
(Not true. For better or worse Cameron has proposed that the Tories contest this very Labour-like ground, so we've heard plenty already and we'll hear yet more.)
"[B]oth [health and education services] would be at risk if the Tories were returned. Young voters in particular need reminding what Britain under the Tories was like."
(I don't think that's going to wash. You can't fight Margaret Thatcher or John Major in 2010, only what's in front of you.)
3. This is what Campbell thinks Labour should important from Obama, and not just a lot of verbless sentences, but: "A clear, robust strategy. Teamwork. Organisation. Values. Hard work. Rebuttal. Attack operating at several levels. Message discipline. Creativity. Enthusing and empowering new supporters. And never even contemplating defeat."
All well and good and motivational. Maybe a bit thin for a weary Party trying for a fourth win in a row, whatever faith Campbell has in the cleansing, past-eradicating qualities of a strong message. But then I'm sure he's keeping his best stuff back for private consultations with Labour's Top Team. I mean, probably.

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