Monday, March 12, 2007

Image and the Man from the Manse


This Saturday We were having Dinner with the famous North London Tory and marketing Guru David Allen . There were others present but as they are currently in “Dark” mode they have to remain anonymous. David has a highly intuitive feel for political life ad has been a participator and observer for a long time. His observation, for example, that the British people never had there day to ,“Punish Margaret Thatcher” , was ,I thought, a telling insight to the bitterness that built through the Major years.

Understandably, the intersection of politics and marketing cropped up . Ellee must be the expert here ,but I have been pondering it and a few threads have been coalescing into a twine as I sat on the train this morning. Over the weekend I was participating in the national Conservative Green day and as we buzzed about the place, supposedly caring for the environment, we ran into the Lib Dems also out ,pretending to care about law and order. Their campaign was all about cracking down on crime,and there are some pretty good ideas.

1 More Police on Patrol (don’t waste Billions on ID cards) …Good
2 Take back Town centres – Let communities close pubs and clubs where the problems are ….don`t like this much as the definition of the community is usually “ Some Liberal activists”
3 Give honest sentences that mean what they say….Absolutely
4Compulsory work and training in prison to cut re-offending …could be a good idea
5 Better compensation for victims – Paid for by prison work- Yes yes yes


As we all know the Liberals have a vile busy-bodying streak but in practice they are a socialist party with squabbles and could not carry a socially Conservative agenda . I love the last idea though , as I did when I first heard Ming float it .
What interested me was that they were pretending to be the Law and Order Party ,while we were being the Green party. In other words our brands are so cluttered at the centre, that they have actually crossed over slightly. In the DT This morning there is far more on Conservative plans to tax air travel and the front page of the Indy shows a line up of the , the most superficial area of politics.

Is that what we are doing now then selling “ banking” by offering new customers the world and ignoring the existing ones ? Yes we are, and Blair was the one who moved us in this direction….

Here is worrying thought though .

For about a month (writes New statesman Ed John Kamfner) Gordon Brown talked about the Artic Monkeys and ipods and tried to be a human being . He was roundly ridiculed ,but the real worry is that caamp Brown have decided to drop all that and set him against Cameron as a,” real politician” . This, as we know, is a vulnerable area for Cameron and I can see it working. I do not relish the Labour Party touting intellect over sociability, with a leader who would rather read a book than appear on the Des O` Connor show.


People are complex, and react at different levels . For example, the Lib Dems never stop telling us about how they were always against Iraq. On this occasion they were righ, but at a deeper level they were wrong because they cared the least about this countries security. People applaud them for their stand, but would they really vote for the Party who is flaky on defence.I doubt it

Being liked is a very dangerous foundation for electoral success Mr. Cameron, very dangerous indeed. Margaret Thatcher got more votes for the Conservative Party than you ever will, and few admitted to “Liking her”.

33 comments:

David Allen said...

Indeed I am famous _ in my own lunchtime. And you, N, are a very kind and generous host.
re. Margaret Thatcher. I am convinced it would have been better to keep her and lose in 92. The British people would have had their chance to give Mrs Thatcher the electorial kicking so many of them thought she deserved and would have got it out of their system. Labour under Kinnock would only have got a small majority, which we could have easily overturned the next time. Our parliamentary party would not have been divided into the 2 camps: those who back-stabbed and those who kept the faith, forever after fighting each other. The unreconstructed thatcherites would have had to either reconstruct or bugger off. We could have honoured Thatcher in retirement, but her future influence would have been neutralised, rather than becoming the poisonous thing it became. And the public would not have seen us as a divided and back-stabbing party.

Arthurian Legend said...

Arthurian Legend is happy to advertise the most enjoyable Saturday evening that he and Mrs Legend spent in the company of Mr and Mrs Newmania and the "scented" David Allen.

I was thinking yesterday about our discussion on the idea that the British people never had their day to ,“punish Margaret Thatcher”, and the notion that that somehow contributed to the bitterness that built up through the Major years.

As Mrs Thatcher's vote in the 1987 General Election was higher than it was in the 1979 General Election (whereas Blair's was approximately 4 million less after eight years in power), I'm not too sure the electorate that voted for Maggie would have wanted to punish on the scale that you imply.

OK - so the poll tax was unpopular in some parts, but so was the Iraq war - and Blair still got voted back with a 66 seat majority TWO YEARS AFTER THE INVASION. I can't see any reason why Mrs Thatcher would inevitably have lost the 1992 election, if Kinnock was the alternative.

The Trots, disaffected left, NUM miners, etc., were never enough to make a critical difference to her electoral chances - and their vocal and visible opposition probably helped her enormously.

The reason for the bitterness at the Tory party in the 1990s began to come from within the party in Parliament and in the country and amongst Tory supports as a result of Major's acceptance of the Maastrict Treaty ("a treaty too far") and from the ignominious exit from the ERM, which Major and Lawson had between them bullied Thatcher into joining.

Once Major had betrayed the national interest, exhibited gross economic incompetence and led in a weak and uninspiring fashion a party with a wafer thin majority, the Tories were always going to be doomed.

Then of course we had the Aitken affair, the Matrix Churchill affair, the Mellor affair, the Back to Basics, the Cash for Questions, and after all that they were going to get absolutely stuffed in 1997.

None of that resulted from the electorate's failure to give Maggie a proper personal kicking.

The fact that the party had given Maggie a kicking themselves is what, in my view, started the problems. That ensured that the Party's poll result in 1997 was many times worse than it would have been with her at the helm.

Newmania said...

Thanks for that david I think you are right there and it says a lot additionally about the way that politics actually works emotionally for people

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

AL, I have to disagree with you and David. The country would have been ruined if Labour had won in 1992. The rot stated in late 1992 with IDS and his merry men banging on about Europe and voting with the opposition to bring down the government. They then went on the hold the government to ransom on practically every issue. It always made me smile when IDS as Leader used to call for "unity" - given his appalling behaviour between '92-7.

Newmania said...

The reason for the bitterness at the Tory party in the 1990s began to come from within the party in Parliament and in the country and amongst Tory supports as a result of Major's acceptance of the Maastrict Treaty ("a treaty too far") and from the ignominious exit from the ERM, which Major and Lawson had between them bullied Thatcher into joining.


The crucial section of this for me .The thing you miss out , AL is the catastrophic effect the Parties disunity had on it at the Polls ,I well remember it gave the impression of being a party incapable of taking any any action so deeply divided was it.

This one of the reaons Cameron is so wary . It is rather encouraging to look back at the wars that raged in the Conservative Party on the Europe Issue ,at that time . By comparison we are all sceptics now and so I think there is more hope than an AL would admit.

It is an an issue to be delt with in power and ask any dictatior , the voters only matter until you`re in. Then they Party . I feel with the s9olid support of the Party and the going disillusion with Europe outside there is the hope fpr poltical face off in the future that migh chnage the landscape considerably the .

My compliments to Mrs AL who is indeed a top Tory Totty pin up

Arthurian Legend said...

Justin - if Major hadn't signed the deal to transfer vast powers away from Parliament (and by entension, from you and me and everyone else) to the EU then there would have been no need for IDS and co. to get all stroppy. Major started it by his foolish signature of the Maastrict treaty.

Britain's right and ability to govern itself is a more important issue than the unity of the Conservative party.

Arthurian Legend said...

N - I agree - disunity is a killer.

But unity around a wrong policy and a policy that many people in the country are intensely wary about is also no receipe for electoral success.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

" Justin - if Major hadn't signed the deal to transfer vast powers away from Parliament (and by entension, from you and me and everyone else) to the EU then there would have been no need for IDS and co. to get all stroppy. Major started it by his foolish signature of the Maastrict treaty.

Britain's right and ability to govern itself is a more important issue than the unity of the Conservative party. "

What about Thatcher? - she signed over more powers to the EU than Major or, for that matter, Blair ever did. She was either stupid or wealk - which one?

Arthurian Legend said...

Justin - The Single European Act was both sold to Maggie and sold by Maggie as primarily a liberalising economic matter. Of course, it wasn't just (or even primarily)that, but there was enough in the assertion to not cause too much dissension.

The same could not be said about the Maastricht Treaty, which was blatant about its political ambitions.

And you forget one of the crucial events that happened between the signing of the Single European Act by Maggie in 1986, and the signing of the Maastrict Treaty by Major in 1992: Delors had come to the TUC in 1987/88 (I think) and had effectively indicated that the EC was a way by which the Thatcher reforms could be undone at an EC-wide level.

That helped (along with a myriad other things) to expose to some previously blinkered Conservative eyes what the project entailed.

Maggie understood - most of the rest of the party didn't.

And for the record - I don't think Maggie should have signed the SEA, or at least, she should have taken Redwood's advice and allowed the vetoes to be abolished for a time-limited period only.

David Allen said...

But this is all ancient history: how do you think Brown and cameron are shaping up with their green agendas today?

Newmania said...

david Good point ...Green gesture Politics is the area that Cameorn like to stick to in the hope he can emphasise areas of agreement with the centre.

I think Cameron is making the right noises but can he be trusted not to use it all as a tax raise

Newmania said...

Justin that was an error. No snitching please

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

What are you talking about, Mr. N? Care to enlighten your readers? (-:

Newmania said...

No...

Yeeesh

David Allen said...

On TODAY this morning, he was at pains to point out (at least 3 times, I think) that this was not a ruse to raise taxes overall: that other, "family" taxes would have to be cut to compensate. This is a tricky one to explain or manage, because, surely, we do not WANT these taxes to bring in money, we want them to induce a change in behaviour? (This is in no way to renege on my doubts about the extent to which the current global warming is part of anything other than a normal cycle, unrelated to human development! Either way, energy security is a big and a growing problem and anything we can do to use the tax system to reduce our dependance on energy imports has to be a good thing. I love the motor car and aeroplane, and think they have been perhpas the greatest 'liberators' of the 20th century. It's because I like them so much and want the most people to be able to enjoy (e.g.) car ownership (rather than a wealthy elite) that I like the idea of exponentially rising taxes on larger-engined cars etc.

Newmania said...

Good arguement David I would like other good things to be given tax breaks like Growth and employment..This of course impacts on the enviroment .

The sort of strange unreal world of false calculations you get into shows the unreality of the issue . I think whithin the Greemn debate paradigm what you say works about as well as anything I have heard.

Arthurian Legend said...

I'm nervous about DC saying that the tax raised will go to support tax breaks for married couples or gays in civil partnerships.

What about those who are single?

If you promise an income tax cut for everyone who pays income tax, you should be able to obtain the support of everyone paying income tax.

If you direct the tax cut solely at marrieds / those in CPs, part of the population are likely to be annoyed at the apparent "discrimination".

This annoyance showed up on QT a couple of weeks ago and I admit those who disagreed with the proposed policy had a point.

On the issue of marriage, DC should simply stick to saying that he will remove the perverse incentives in the benefit system that can mean some couples with children are financially better off living apart than together.

For all of DC's supposed ability to sell and spin, I think he has fallen a bit flat here.

It was also very poor thinking to talk about tax rises without something pretty more concrete by way of tax cuts. I think the Lib Dems handled this better when they proposed increasing the threshold at which you pay 40% income tax to £50,000. That way, there was something positive for people to latch on to, rather than just the negative story of tax rises, which left a bitter taste in the mouth.

mutleythedog said...

I did enjoy the evening Mr N, and I am sorry that I got so drunk, I am sure the stains will "come out" as they say! Where id you get that inflatable doll of Mrs T.?

mutleythedog said...

Oh - and I had no idea Dave and his wife were cross dressers! Wow!

Newmania said...

AL -The Libs can say what they like noone believes them ,above all on taxes in any case it is chatting not policy for them.

I rather agree with you now I come to think of it although the allowance does have a certian logic .

DC cannot start talking about the disincentives ot be married without talking about dismantling the welfare system and he isnt going to do that in one bite . So I take it as a gesture of intent and approve.

Ooo Editor of the Tribune wants to interview me toodles

David Allen said...

I'm with AL on this one: I hate the idea of tax allowances _ and they will alienate single people, who comprise a pretty substantial group of voters _ when you include the not-yet-married, the divorced and the widowed. Far better to promise that ALL the extra tax take from this sort of thing will go to "raise the basic tax threshold as everyone in work will benefit, and benefit equally." To reward people simply for being married or 'civilly-partnered' is absurd - I could understand if it was for working parents...

electro-kevin said...

Don't forget the impact of the property crash and sky-high interest rates on the average voter circa 1990s. But for that I think that the Tories would have retained power. They hurt their grass-root support. Few people connect Maastricht with today's problems.

I feel that Nu Labs' greatest strength has been the housing 'boom' - in my view illusory for the vast majority and ultimately destructive for our country.

Good luck with the interview, N.

Newmania said...

Mutley -Where id you get that inflatable doll of Mrs T.?


Oh I`ve had it for years , doesn`t every one tucked away somewhere

Ellee said...

I wondered why my ears were burning, pity I couldn't have joined in your debate.

I hope to catch up with the Climate Change Swindle film on More4 tonight and will be seeing Al Gore in Cambridge at the weekend, this subject has become as divisive as religion, with passions just as strong.

My PR techniques are very simple - honesty and transparency, otherwise you get caught out, the public are not fools, treat them with respect, admit when you have made a mistake - what human being hasn't.

Newmania said...

It can be worse than being caught out Ellee Islington Coucil have spoent £3,000, 000 on windmills and we have the worst schools in London and many more problems .I wonder if this was the sort of reason they wanted the debate suppressed

Ellee said...

That is disgraceful. I expect you are writing to the local press about it and highlighting all these examples of gross inefficiency.

Back to the kitchen now, a woman's place and all that....

Newmania said...

..rattlin` them post and pans and yes ihave aleadt written about it , in fact it was the local Press who brought it to my attention.

Kev you are quite right about that of course but AL had raised it before obliquely . That was the ned of the Conservatives reputation for econnomic comptetence and it has hung around their neck like the proverbial albatross ever since

Yasamin said...

I've a question... since i have no idea what your talking about and every 3rd word is all that i could comprehend... i'm a bit confused...

if this 2 Take back Town centres – Let communities close pubs and clubs where the problems are ….don`t like this much as the definition of the community is usually “ Some Liberal activists” happens anywhere... what will happen to the owners and workers who's livelihood has been shut down?

just a question. i mean.. since really.. its none of my business i wouldn't expect an answer but if i were some waitress with a kid at home trying to make ends meet and the place i worked at closed down i'd have a fit. but then i'm slightly psychotic.

Ed said...

Also on "take back town centres":

Totally agree that "communities" usually means self-appointed do-gooders and whingers who decide what's best for the people who are too busy to defend their own corner

BUT: If bars and clubs were regulated by the town/borough councils then there would be a lot more local accountability. Westminster might or might not popularise late night boozing establishments, but Camden might decide that it wants its pubs closed by midnight. At least it's up to the voters to decide.

More and more decisions should be taken at a much more local level. We wouldn't be in the middle of this housing crisis if local authorities were allowed to decide on local development instead of artificial targets being improsed from Westminster.

Newmania said...

what will happen to the owners and workers who's livelihood has been shut down?


That is a good point and this supposedly dreadful rowdiness is asociated with 24 hour drinng which was introduced to bolster the local economy . Ina sense if they actually shut them down I would`nt mind . Its more likely that they wil be subject to expensive fines and inspections that we would have to pay .

The Lib Dems are always having quite good ideas it doesn`t matter they are never going to be a government.

Newmania said...

Ed , have you forgettin why local governments were brought itno line in the first place bymaggie .islignotn had one of the worst loony left brigades in the country and i am loathe to let thast happen again .

Localism sounds good but I am unconvinced. I agree there should be more poweres in Coucils . Remove the regional bodies and abandon the insulting idea that England is a set of regions in the EU.

Do not imagine that Coucils are always better though

electro-kevin said...

Sorry AL

Newmania's right - you had mentioned Tory fiscal incompetence 'obliquely', I didn't see this because I look at these things sometimes quite obtusely ...

tumbleweed

Er, just gentle self-deprecation along the geometry theme.

Newmania said...

What a polite chap you are kev...

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