Sunday, March 04, 2007

So Who Was the Minging Briefer?

Never has so much damage been done by a spin doctor since Tim Collins briefed john Major's Back to Basics speech. The "senior party official" who spun Ming's speech will not be a popular person among LibDems in Westminster tomorrow. Ed Davey, Ming's new minder, is said to be apoplectic. LibDem MPs can hardly believe what they are hearing or reading. LibDem astroturfers are paddling furiously to salvage something from the wreckage.

So who was it who briefed the speech? The Party's new Director of Communications? The Head of Press? Who? The PA Report tonight descibes the person as a "senior press officer".

And who authorised him or her to brief it like that? My conclusion can only be that it was Ming himself.

There's only one way for the LibDems to lance this boil and that is to name the person concerned and make clear that he or she was not speaking for the Party or its leadership. And for those who think I am deliberately misinterpreting all this, this is the PA copy which will be in all tomorrow's regional papers...

Sir Menzies Campbell's attempt to reassert his position as Liberal Democrat leader was overshadowed today by chaos at the head of the party over its strategy for a hung Parliament. The party leader used a major speech to set out five "tests" for Gordon Brown to meet if - as expected - he takes over from Tony Blair as Prime Minister this year. A senior press officer told reporters afterwards that it was the "first signal" Sir Menzies would be interested in talking to Labour about a deal if the Lib Dems held the balance of power. And he also indicated that the party's desire for proportional representation at Westminster elections - not included in the five tests - would not be set as a precondition of such a deal.

Here are three comments from the previous thread. If I were a LibDem I'd be quite worried tonight...
Madness, I'm a floating voter between the Conservatives and the Liberal
Democrats. Menzies Campbell means I will vote Conservative now. I'm bemused
as to why Campbell thought he was being clever.

All he has done is tell Tories in Labour/Lib Dem marginals that there is no
point voting tactically and everyone else a vote fot the Lib Dems is a vote for
Labour. It’s the best news for the Tories since Labour picked Kinnock as leader.

Regardless of what he actually said it is how it is reported and what
can be inferred that is important. Whatever you actually say - if it is
enough to start a tabloid vote liberal=get labour frenzy then its a
disaster.The art of public speaking is to leave everyone with the impression
that you said what you actually said, this is quite difficult.

If he meant to move towards a coalition with his speech today, he's an
idiot. If he said those things but didn't mean to move towards a coalition, he
should have expected this type of media coverage and is therefore an idiot.

I've given up on the Lib Dems, it's a truly liberating feeling. I used to think they were a healthy alternative to a once goddamn awful Tory party, and a killjoy, controlling Labour party.
UPDATE: This is from Niles's Blog...
If the shadow cabinet hadn’t leapt to their feet cheering, I wouldn’t have
known the speech had ended.
That good, eh?

56 comments:

Ed Clarke said...

I think it's useful for everyone to know in advance that the LibDems would prop up a Labour party not popular enough to win a parliamentary majority.

It's also good for voters to know that they aren't the fluffy, sensible, middle-of-the-road party that they are often perceived to be.

The only tactical vote at the next election will be a Conservative vote.

Ming's humour also shows him to be dreadfully out of touch. When Jonathan Ross tried the "I bet you fancied Maggie" line it went down like a lead balloon. Well done Ming for trying it again.

Anonymous said...

Ed - and what would you say if the Lib Dems were willing to prop up a Conservative party not popular enough to win a parliamentary majority?

"When Jonathan Ross tried the "I bet you fancied Maggie" line it went down like a lead balloon." Only with humourless Tories. The rest of the country laughed their heads off.

Pedro Pascale said...

The trouble is that what the briefer said is substantially accurate.

Ming is trying to bump the LibDems in Scotland into coalition with Labour. Whilst on Question Time week before last Nicol Stephen was not ruling out a coalition with the SNP despite opposing their policy on a referendum.

Hence how there are rumours of some ructions between the two. And it's not the first time Mings done it.

With Ming making these pitches for Foreign Secretary in a Brown coalition one thing has passed people by.

In a radio interview recently Brown said something along the lines that a government led by him would not necessarily be of one party. It passed by as other news lines were picked up on.

They've already been dancing and all this briefer has done has let the cat out of the bag meaning that the LibDems will now be seen more clearly as just a support prop for Labour rather than a distinctive party.

They've managed to get away with it in Scotland by flying under the UK media radar but this will now bring it into sharper focus.

Anonymous said...

As an advocate of the 'cock-up' rather than the 'conspiracy' theory, I would have thought that you would be keeping well out of the ins and outs of the Lib Dem briefs, Iain!

Go on. own up, the trip to the USA was just a spoof. It was you doing your Rory Bremner of Chris Rennard?

Ed Clarke said...

Ed - and what would you say if the Lib Dems were willing to prop up a Conservative party not popular enough to win a parliamentary majority?

I would probably want to check the small print. The LibDems are mostly unreconstructed socialists and not very liberal except in the American interpretation of the word.

The point is, Ming appears to be pre-announcing his intentions and therefore positioning himself to be close to Labour and nowhere near the Conservatives. The Conservatives would never promise PR so I doubt even the LibDems could convince themselves that a coalition was possible.

Anonymous said...

"The only tactical vote at the next election will be a Conservative vote"

Tactically for what Ed Clarke? For rampant communism? green liberalism? semi-Mussoliniism? For whatever David Cameron happens to dream up that morning? DO tell! (and then perhaps you'll tell David Cameron?)

Ed Clarke said...

Tactical voting, as you well know, is a tactic usually employed by LibDems in marginal seats to pursuade people to "kick the Tories out". Now it's time to kick Labour out, Ming seems to have forgotten which decade he's in and promised a coalition to the outgoing-Prime Minister-in-waiting.

Strange.

Anonymous said...

A Lib Dem vote is just a Labour vote,

Anonymous said...

"The Conservatives would never promise PR "

Why not? They advocate it for the reformed laws and love it in both Scotland and Wales where, without it, they would hardly win a seat.

Before you try to be a spin doctor, why not get your GCSE pass in Biology?

Anonymous said...

ed clarke - "I would probably want to check the small print. The LibDems are mostly unreconstructed socialists and not very liberal except in the American interpretation of the word."

So in other words, you wouldn't mind the disenfranchisement of the British people if it helped the Tories?

BTW, we don't live in America. And you do know that, due to associations with the ACLU etc, liberal is a dirty word in American right-wing circles, even if used in a primarily economic sense.

hg said...

Does this mean that the Liberal democrats will form a coalition regime with the Labour party if Gordon Brown inherits Tony Blair's parliamentary majority? They would be sensible to demand that as a prepayment on eventual coalition support if Brown ever has to face the electorate in a general election.

Ming as Foreign Secretary under Brown sounds less green ink than it should.

Anonymous said...

Poor young Ed has never been to Chesterfield, Edinburgh, Rochdale, Bristol, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Bermondsey, Brent, Manchester,Hornsey, Newcastle, Oldham. . .

Tactical votes for Lib Dems are already employed within all sorts of constituencies - not nationally! - to keep out whoever you choose.

Ed Clarke said...

Anonyming said:
So in other words, you wouldn't mind the disenfranchisement of the British people if it helped the Tories?

The British people (if there is such a thing) would be much more disenfranchised under PR because the third party would always wield influence beyond the number of votes cast for it.

I agree that our system isn't perfect.

I am not a spin-doctor, in fact I'm nobody in particular but at least I am happy to put my name to my posts!

Anonymous said...

"The British people (if there is such a thing) would be much more disenfranchised under PR because the third party would always wield influence beyond the number of votes cast for it."

Unlikely, there would be far more than three parties with a decent number of seats under PR. You know, because people vote for them. If this is somehow less democratic, do explain.

In countries where there is PR, often parties will form blocs, but these are still more democratic because there has to be debate and compromise within a political bloc - decisions couldn't just be made on the whim of Tony, Dave or Ming.

Victor, NWKent said...

The only purpose for the existence of the Lib-Dems is to hang about hoping for a hung Parliament and another Lib/Lab coalition in which the tail wags the dog.
Otherwise they are as relevant as a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.

garypowell said...

Just more evidence as I see it of how Labour and the Lib/Dems have started to believe their own BBC propaganda.

They simply are not in charge of the message anymore. This fact is just so upsetting for either of these parties to deal with. They can't deal with it.

A senior Liberal MP was quoted as saying only 2 years ago that it was "politically inconceiveable for the Lib/Dems to prop up a Labour government that had just been rejected by the public."

It seems now that CK must have been drunk at the time, because its the only time Lib/Dem MPs talk any sense.

If you pay any attention to the BBC, which the Lib/Dems and Labour only do, you could be forgiven for thinking there were no Tory voters in the whole country to worry about.

Anonymous said...

"the third party would always wield influence beyond the number of votes cast for it."

They already do this under the present system. these 'third party' people without principles make up about half of both tory and Labour parties these days - and about a third of the Lib Dems.

Whatever Party gets in, these people - Blair/Cameron/Oaten call the shots. No wonder 40 per cent of the population can't be bothered to vote (and a fair lump won't even register to vote)

Ed Clarke said...

Well they wouldn't be made by Ming+Dave together because Ming has just told us that he doesn't like Dave much.

I quite like having a local MP to contact and keep an eye on, rather than some regional party list where no-one is directly accountable.

Anthony said...

*Alex Hilton Reports Thatcher Dead*

http://www.recessmonkey.com/2007/03/05/stop-press-maggie-dead/#comment-152594

Is this true Iain?

chatterbox said...

Iain, check out Recess Monkey who has a breaking story. Would he post this news without a reliable government source?
http://www.recessmonkey.com/2007/03/05/stop-press-maggie-dead/#comment-152594

Anonymous said...

"they wouldn't be made by Ming+Dave together because Ming has just told us that he doesn't like Dave much."

So, compared to Tony and Gordon, they are madly in love with each other!

no longer anonymous said...

The use of the word Liberal in their name is highly deceptive. If they were truly Liberal they'd be calling for mass privatisation, decriminalisation of all drugs and various other pro-liberty policies. Instead they're more concerned with regulating our lives via green taxation. But then statists have been using the name Liberal for over a century now.

garypowell said...

Opinion polls over the last 40 years show that Labour support has been quite stable at between 30-45% at all times. Conservative support is only high when the Liberal vote is low. You dont have to be a brain surgeon to work out what this means for the Conservative Party.

It is clear to me that the Lib/Dems may be intune with their members but are compleatly out of touch with very many of the people that vote for them.

Cameron will now slice though the not at all liberal Liberals vote like a hot axe though KY jelly.

Guthrum said...

How anybody could contemplate proping up this Government is beyond me- electing this out of touch has been was the final straw for me-

billy said...

don't I have a distant memory of a Lib Lab government some time past?
Aren't the Libs about power at any price? No principles, that they will stick with, for a cabinet post, or two.
Having said that, I have come to understand that the New Lab principle is lie, lie, lie and I can't work out what the Nu Tory one is at all.
It is dificult being a flaoting voter. I miss the certainess of supporting Margaret, God Bless her.

Anonymous said...

L/D's shouldn't worry too much.The only thing the five people I have checked with remember is the bit about Ming inviting Dave to "GROW UP".
The briefing issue is for the Westminster village!
Sorry!-reverse spin won't work on this one.

barnacle_bill said...

I would imagine for many people UKIP is looking attractive as an alternative tactical vote despite their recent troubles.
Makes you wonder if someone else has thought of this. Hence the about of bad press UKIP is having at the moment.
Personally I can't wait for Mebyon Kernow to get their act together.

Ed Clarke said...

Why should just Kernow get more local powers? All the counties should have more control over their affairs.

This is now one of the most centralised countries in the world.

Anonymous said...

A Brown-Campbell alliance? Sounds like the Scottish political mafia will do anything to keep control of the rest of us.

barnacle_bill said...

ed clarke -
We are not talking about just Kernow.
Haven't you realised all those Ginsters lorries, and Cornish Pasty shops setting up in a high street near you are just part of the secret plan.
Come the revolution!

Anonymous said...

"Labour support has been quite stable at between 30-45% at all times."

er...... 50 per cent variation between high and low is 'stable'? Obviously unlike gary powell!

Man in a shed said...

Lets seem em face both ways on this one !

Want PR vote UKIP said...

It looks like UKIP are now the only major party offering some degree of PR (FPTP + top-ups).

ukip = corruption said...

Yeah well ukip certainly need some PR

MEP spends allowances on car
MEPs threaten to resign en masse
MEPs to each pay back 200k in expenses stolen to fund ukip staff
Exec member gives to BNP with full knowledge of Farage...

good times, ukip, good times.

ukip = corruption said...

...and a party that polls 8 votes in a by-election with the English Dems scoring ten times as many is hardly a major party. Face it, right now ukip is hardly a party at all

Is that the best you can hope for? said...

*cough* LOL!

The BNP come second, ie not even win, in some minor local election then decide that is more influential than having a real foothold in Parliament with two peers.

There's first place and no place. Second is as good as last.

I guess you still want to see non-whites kicked out of Britain? Nice.

racist@home said...

Pah, only a vote for the BNP will restore Britain to its 1948 level of whiteness.

ukip = corruption said...

ukip love the bnp, they are their natural allies. bnp leaders have long said that most of their membership is ex-ukip, now a ukip national exec member gives $100 to the bnp - and the juicy thing is that Farage knows all about and says he doesn't care!

vote ukip - support the bnp with the leadership's approval!

vote ukip - your MEP gets to buy himself a new car and steal money from his researcher

vote ukip - your ukip MEPs threaten to resign the whip (including Knapman) if the stealing MEP is even suspended by the party, I guess there's no honour amongst the ukip thieves

vote ukip - and your MEP will use your EU taxes to pay for ukip staff up and down the country, now they're all liable to pay back more than 200k per person

and lastly, vote ukip - because with 8 votes in Nuneaton and 40 votes in Horsham somebody has to!

ukip = corruption said...

Luckily real Tories like Stuart Wheeler are coming home to our party. Probably don't want their cash in the MEP's pockets. How long before you do the same, Chad? (Yes, with your ukiphome post on PR and your pathetic astroturf on the same subject here we all know it's you, have some stones and use your real nom de loon)

racist@home said...

I like the irony of an anonymous poster demanding another to have balls and not hide behind anonymity!

Anonymous said...

Are the last two anti UKIP posts from an Archer or a Levy by any chance?

Curly said...

This is all very iluminating, why can't we have the election next month!

ukip = corruption said...

Chad, you are racist and PR and all of them. You want us to believe there are actually ukip voters out there who post on blogs. There are 4 people total who post on your own blog. Including you and the other blogger.

Your party supports the BNP with donations, steals from eu taxpayers to buy cars, and has leaders like Knapman and other sitting MEPs who say they will walk out because a thief, Tom Wise, loses the whip.

Have you no honour? How can you remain in ukip knowing that Nigel Farage is OK with a member of the national executive donating to the BNP? How can you stomach being in a party where almost every one of your elected representatives, MEPs, is now accused of theft - either spending cash on cars and credit cards or using taxpayer money to fund political staff.

If your sole obsession is withdrawal from the EU why don't you join the English Democrats, they poll more votes than ukip and aren't run by thieves and BNP donors. Oh, and come back to the UK.

Anonymous said...

Archer or Levy yes-but which one?

Anonymous said...

Iain,

You are really really trying to flog this, arent you...

Move on mate...

dynamite said...

Are you not going to credit the Labour Party for use of their amusing little logo, Iain? Bit rude.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/art/2007/03/my_abu_dhabi_adventure.html

For those of you who think Ming is over the hill, think again...

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Just seen the official liberal democrats reaction to the speech yesterday.

Recognised about 80% of the speakers - predictable party types some of whom are clearly looking for funding for key seats, or just looking for key seats.

And just in case anyone did go off message, loved the fact that Lord Rennard was hanging around behind practically every speaker to er help with filming??? Or calm them all down??? Or to make sure they didn't go off message.

Of course, not at all scripted or planned. Totally spontaneous. Oh yes.

Masters of spin.

Grant Thoms said...

Let's face it, Minging Campbell doesn't need anyone to leak for him.. he's at that age he can do his own leaking.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6.15 Assume from your post your not in the habit of attending Lab or Con conferences

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, these sound remarkably like the quotes you printed on your "flying start" leaflet at the last general election, you know, the one with the big St Georges flag on it.

Mr T from Holt says "I have always voted Lib Dem, but not this time"

Mrs B from North Walsham says "I thought I could trust them, but never again, I'm voting Tory now"

In much the same way as they were irrelevent, I think picking out choice quotes from a slef selecting and largely anonymnous group of posters is complete pointless.

Iain Dale said...

Nich, delighted you can remember by leaflet so well!!!
By the way, Richard S is on my programme from 10pm to midnight if you fancy tuning in!

Off Message said...

So do we know who the briefer was or not? Surely someone should know by now??!

Liberal Legend said...

If Ed Clarke thinks I, and many of my colleagues are "unreconstituted socialists" he should spend less time spouting here and find out what liberalism in the UK is really about.

There is a good Dictionary of Liberal Thought edited by Duncan Brack just out.

Ed, I suggest you read it since it would help to add a dose of realism to what you write. You might also bother to take the time to look at some Lib Dem blogs rather than living in a world of your own personal construction.

Anonymous said...

The press officer can be none other than Mark Littlewood - the new Director hasn't started yet. Only one with the authority, and stupidity, to stick his neck out this far.

garypowell said...

anonymous
Yes it is stable compared to the liberals over 40 years. Which has varied between 5% and 26%. Which is not a 50% variation it is over a 500% variation.

Also who are you to say how unstable I am when you alternate from Tory to Labour to Lib/Dem and back to Tory again is less then a second?