Monday 24 February 2014

The Desperation of the Right

We always knew the election was going to be messy. But already, some 15 months before the big day swings around, the Tories and their allies are desperately flinging anything and everything that comes to hand. Crosby and co. have long excavated and chucked the mud from their wallow. They're now down to loose soils and gravel. Sling that it makes a mess, but it's easily brushed off again. By way of illustration, here are three recent attacks.

Exhibit One. You have the calling out of Ed Miliband as a millionaire posh boy who's never had a proper job. Yes, that is a proper Tory attack line. And yes, if you strain hard enough those are the death agonies of irony and satire you can hear on the wind. I mean, seriously. Far be it for me to offer the Tories advice, but if you must run personal attacks make sure that a) they can't be effortlessly batted back to you and b) it becomes an object of ridicule. No surprises that the walking sensory void Grant Shapps is behind that one.

Exhibit Two. Poor old Dave. Those nasty floods have exposed him as a clueless ditherer. Understandably people affected across the blue belt of Tory seats in the South West and the little-reported Yorkshire region (yes, there are some Tory heartlands ooop north) are a bit miffed at the government. What would the Mail on Sunday, the weekend warrior for all right-thinking people make of that? Bugger all, so its front page splash led with shadow environment minister Barry Gardiner's holiday to Mexico. You can imagine the foam-flecked outrage in the editorial office when no one paid it any attention whatsoever. The Mail being The Mail couldn't resist giving it a racist twist by drawing attention to Barry's relationship with an Indian businessman either.

Exhibit Three. If George Greg miscalculated with that one, Paul Dacre has proper lost it. The last three editions of The Daily Mail have led with supposed connections between Jack Dromey, Harriet Harman, and ex-MP Patricia Hewitt and the infamous 1970s campaigning group, the Paedophile Information Exchange. Three front pages. Three detonations of the P-bomb. And nothing in the way of damaging political fall out. Only now has a statement been put out comprehensively rebutting The Mail's smears. And yes, the look-at-me-this-is-a-real-scandal desperation of that paper makes Dacre look even more out-of-touch. Does he really want to replay his ill-fated attack on Ralph Miliband? It looks like he does.

The big problem for the right in British politics is they have absolutely nothing to offer. Between now and election day the government will not be pushing through anything new. They don't want to scare the electorate or hand gifts to Ed Miliband, which is what they usually do. They don't want to run the risk of an embarrassing parliamentary defeat, even if a rumpus with the LibDems might suit both coalition parties. Politics abhors a vacuum, and into it they and their helpers pour their negative messages. But already the bile drum is down to its last dregs. If anything, further attacks of this character, which will come, will be emptier, more panicky, more threadbare, and cloyingly desperate. It's going to be a long, long lead-in to the election.


Malcolm Redfellow said...

Excellent post.

Harman's response was very much to the point.

As I'm saying elsewhere, the whole play is directly borrowed from the US Right. Just read NCCL in place of ACLU.

Phil said...

These techniques are being imported wholesale from the US hard right. When the Tories lose in 2015 they will find it almost irresistible to head that way, especially when the new Labour government starts implementing "socialist" policies. And just like America, they will have an ever-declining purchase.

jimboo said...

Harman not doing herself any favours according to the Beeb. Of course Dacre is probably losing the plot anyway and will overstep the mark one day.

Speedy said...

Looking forward to hear what Labour have to offer. Been a long time gestating, no? In a box?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if they actually came up with something worth voting for, rather than against (ie the Tories)?

ejh said...

Been a long time gestating, no? In a box?