Saturday, July 08, 2006

Conspiracy Theories and Spin

I'm back too. I lost my blogger password -- I have more than one, and I trust my browser to remember these things, and it kept going for the wrong one. So it was only when I lost another password, and had to find it again (or risk, like, being sued or something) that I found out how to use the whole Keychain business on my Mac.

So I'm back, and without having to go through the humiliating business of writing to D2 to explain what a forgetful idiot I am.

Now it's true that both our watchees have posted in the past ten-or-whatever-it-is-now days, and we haven't watched them. But then, they haven't said very much. Nick is probably right about the Kurdish documentary business. Right in the sense that it would be good if the film were broadcast: he's not right in the rest. I don't see how British television has any moral duties, but that's another story. After a fairly sensible civil libertarian slant the week before, he's got his 'Mr Incredibly Angry About Everything' hat back on. I think he's confused on charities: I was brought up on the WWII song:

Cold as a frog in an icebound pool
Cold as the tip of an Eskimo's tool
Cold as charity, and that's bloody chilly ...

And I've always thought that large charitable donations (as in wills) were a means of not giving the money to either the revenue or children, so I'm not so keen on 'reading the psychology of the British' from these league tables. Also, Oxfam donors seem to be the same people Nick regularly hates -- "the Rory Bremner types."

People used to say that the British loved animals more than they loved children. Now it seems we love animals more than we love war veterans.

Two things: war veterans should not rely on charity. The state ought to take care of them, and I can't think of anyone in any major party who thinks otherwise. Of course, there are also a lot more animals in this country than there are war veterans as well, but neither of these facts seems to have any impact on Nick.

However, I've only raised Nick Cohen because of a rather good Matthew Turner post on his pre-blog rantings.

Right of Reply - Dec 30th, 1999
THE WHINGEING style as much as the meagre content of consensual pundits provides the best reason for believing that Blairism is a continuation of Thatcherism. Once again we hear the self-pity of received opinion as well-heeled columnists announce that they are persecuted dissidents; brave voices of truth who risk all to tell it like it is with only the Prime Minister, the BBC, big business and their editors standing between them and the gulag - or, at least, a snub at a dinner party. In the Christmas Eve edition of The Independent, David Aaronovitch shared the pain that I, the New Statesman and Private Eye had caused him when we implied that he was "a man who could be relied on to write as No 10 required". My "spiteful" crime - I cannot answer for others - was to mention his Osric role in the Millbank assault on the independent-minded Rhodri Morgan when he sought to become Labour leader in Wales...

This helps to explain the coolness between our subjects. I'm interested in this charge that David Aaronovitch is "a man who could be relied on to write as No 10 required" because I think DA may be being used more than he knows.

In the Torygraph yesterday, Andrew Gimson made two interesting observations.

But this [inheriting Thatcherism] left Mr Blair with the problem of how to show he had not deserted his party's working-class supporters. He was vulnerable to the charge that he was Tory Tony, an opportunist interloper who had seized control of the Labour Party and was now intent on betraying all that it held dear, or at least on taking its traditional voters for granted.
Mr Prescott provided living proof that this could not be so.


Over a year ago, during the general election campaign, he was hidden away on a bus and sent on a long and meaningless tour. Already he was seen as a liability rather than an asset. Some of us wanted to go and watch him campaigning, but we were told, ludicrously, that Mr Prescott's itinerary was only being released to the regional media. We asked our friends in the regional press to tell us when Mr Prescott would be honouring them with a visit, only to find that they themselves were only getting about 10 minutes' notice of an appearance on the other side of three counties.

I think he's right on both counts. Prescott used to have a definite symbolic role in the party (I think he reassured middle class Labour voters like me more than horny-handed sons of toil who've embraced sons of priviledge like Michael Foot or Tony Benn -- or even, on the Tory side, as Churchill or Enoch Powell without embarrassment), but that period has now passed. Someone in Millbank decided that he should keep a low profile in the election, and Prescott went along with it. Now that Gordon Brown is talking of replacing Trident, it seems to be that he's playing a different game to the one most of us expected. He's *trying* to alienate the left. Disapproval by Clare Short practically assures approval by Mondeo Man, who Brown is trying to convince to back him. The dropping of Prescott is part of this tactic.

However, Labour members value loyalty. Brown and the rest of the pretenders can't be seen to do Prescott in. But where, I wonder, are these internet rumours coming from? David Aaronovitch thinks it's a Tory-media plot. I think it's much more Macchiavellian than that.

Here we come to DA's role. If I'm right, and I am alleging a very complex conspiracy theory, where Labour jettisons even more of its past, Millbank can't be seen to be spinning this. So friendly journalists have to rage against it, giving credibility to the story that it is Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition behind this. Other insiders, say I, are being briefed to run Prescott down. With hacks penning columns pro- and anti- the story stays in the news. Labour loses a liability (who is anyway past retirement age), moves subtly to the right and the middle-classes and claims victimhood.

What say ye?

Oh, I should make a prediction so that my theory is sort of testable. I'm alleging that these rumours come from Labour insiders. OK -- when the story dies down, pictures will mysteriously emerge of some other compromising Prescott story. Perhaps one of his other lovers, with some evidence that she received some sort of favour. This would be an old story which until now has been kept quiet, but rather than speak when the casino story was on, she waited a bit. As you do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Prescott provided living proof that this could not be so.

This is news? As Jeremy Hardy once summed it up: John Prescott is there to patronise the working class in their own language. 'Patsy' (as I like to think of him, as in the US slang for a fall guy) was always the hapless comedy sidekick while Tony sailed serenely on like Dorian Gray MP (Blair gets the occasional heckle; Prescott gets into a rumble with a fat trucker, for example). Now that Blair's circled the wagons for one last stand, and that Prescott's been caught with his pants down, the latter's clearly expendable for the former.

Re. the conspiracy: you'd have to Watch both Rentoul in the Sindie and Rawnsley in the Observer as well as DA. (Rawnsley wrote a particularly nasty column about 'thickie' Prescott when he went off-message re. the Education Bill.) If Blair evisceration of the Labour party is anywhere near completion (or at least far enough advance to thwart Brown even if the latter did want to do something about it), then Prescott's working-classness becomes an irrelevance, except when it suits Labour otherwise (i.e. 'Patsy' becomes the fat bloke's Dennis Skinner).

7/11/2006 08:54:00 AM  

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