Saturday, September 15, 2007

How Not to Win the Debate – a CCHQ Production


The big image of the week: Lady Thatcher standing beside Gordon Brown at the door to number 10. The message conveyed: Thatcher has more in common with Brown than with Cameron. The audience targeted: the Conservative Party’s base. The goal: bringing Gordon Brown one step closer to destroying the Conservative Party (for at least the foreseeable future).

So if you’re the Conservative Party and you want to counter the effect of this image what do you do? Well firstly you’d determine what audience you need to target; in this case the Conservative Party’s base. Then you’d determine what action you want that audience to take; in this case rejecting the message Brown was trying to communicate to them with the image in the first place. Then you’d probably ask yourself how do I best achieve that objective.

You might for example say to yourself, “Lady Thatcher is more than just a former Prime Minister to the Party faithful, much more. In reality she’s the living embodiment of everything they believe politically.” That being so you’d probably decide not to attack her in even the most indirect of ways. No, you’d probably decide to praise her. You’d say something like “Lady Thatcher has a tremendous amount of respect for the office of Prime Minister – something Gordon Brown clearly does not – and quite rightly accepted the invitation of the current Prime Minister to join him in Downing Street.” More importantly you would stick with that line and keep repeating it.

Apparently not.

Apparently the best way to deal with the situation is to send Rob Wilson, Cameron’s Higher Education spokesman, onto Radio 4 to say:

“Whilst some of my weak-minded colleagues are fair game for Mr Brown, Baroness Thatcher at 81 – we know she’s frail, we know she’s lonely, and she does have difficulty, without going into too much detail, with her memory… I think all the evidence is suggesting that she has been taken advantage of.”

Even the LibDems would find it difficult to handle something with this level of utter incompetence.

Needless to say Lady Thatcher’s officereacted , quite rightly, reacted with indignation to Rob Wilson’s absurd postulations. Result, the audience you wanted to win over just moved a little further away.


Anonymous said...

Rob Wilson's "absurd postulations".

Oh dear. Iain, where did you find this idiot? Please come back soon.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis Shane.

New Labour owes a lot Lady Thatcher and even more to John Major, whose stall-out gave Tony Blair an opening.

The Conservative Party will need no interference from Gordon Brown to annihilate itself, Cameron is perfectly capable of doing it himself, as many have pointed out.

The Cameron-chameleon is holding the party down, the sooner he's gone the better. If the Conservatives want to be re-energized, they should merge with UKIP and put Farage in as Party Chairman.

Anonymous said...

I agree Shane. Maggie's mind isn't what it was but she is a game old bird and has good advisers. There's no way anyone could "take advantage" of Thatcher, she knew what she was doing. How patronising of Rob Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Jackie, yes that was a slightly flowery phrase that was used. Maybe he should have just written "absurd guff" or "pathetic spin". If this was really what Rob (who?) Wilson said, then it is dim at best, but also immensely disrespectful to Thatcher, Brown and the concept of grown-up politics. It is exactly why people are fed up with Cameron's Conservatives, they seem incapable of acting as statesmen. Anyway, at least Iain was away when this story broke so we didn't have to read his sycophantic hero-worship of Mrs T. Somewhere between his view and Rob Wilson's would be the right line to take.

Anonymous said...

Be that as it may I think Rob Wilson is right. I'm sure that if Mrs Thatcher wanted to convey any message to David Cameron she just would. She wouldn't need to go to Downing Street to take tea with someone who she knows hates her and all she stands for.
Hurry back Iain,your blog needs you!

Anonymous said...

Maggie knew what she was doing. She has sent a message to Conservatives that she disapproves of David Camerons shenanigans.
Surely you bloggers can not be that thick.

David Lindsay said...

Oh, do get a grip! What, exactly, was “Thatcherism”? What did she ever actually do?

Well, she gave Britain the Single European Act, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the replacement of O-levels with GCSEs, and the destruction of paternal authority within working-class families and communities through the destruction of that authority’s economic basis in the stockades of working-class male employment.

No Prime Minister, ever, has done more in any one, never mind all, of the causes of European federalism, Irish Republicanism, sheer economic incompetence, Police inefficiency and ineffectiveness, collapsing educational standards, and everything that underlies or follows from the destruction of paternal authority.

Meanwhile (indeed, thereby), the middle classes were transformed from people like her father into people like her son. She told us that “there is no such thing as society”, in which case there cannot be any such thing as the society that is the family, or the society that is the nation.

Correspondingly, she misdefined liberty as the “freedom” to behave in absolutely any way that one saw fit. All in all, she turned Britain into the country that Marxists had always said it was, even though, before her, it never actually had been.

Specifically, she sold off national assets at obscenely undervalued prices, while subjecting the rest of the public sector (forty per cent of the economy) to an unprecedented level of central government dirigisme.

She presided over the rise of Political Correctness, that most 1980s of phenomena, and so much of piece with that decade’s massively increased welfare dependency and its moral chaos, both fully sponsored by the government, and especially by the Prime Minister, of the day.

Hers was the war against the unions, which cannot have had anything to do with monetarism, since the unions have never controlled the money supply.

For good or ill, but against all her stated principles, hers was the refusal (thank goodness, but then I am no “Thatcherite”) to privatise the Post Office, as her ostensible ideology would have required.

And hers were the continuing public subsidies to fee-paying schools, to agriculture, to nuclear power, and to mortgage-holders. Without those public subsidies, the fourth would hardly have existed, and the other three (then as now) would not have existed at all. So much for “You can’t buck the market”. You can now, as you could then, and as she did then.

You know this from experience if that experience extends to any one or more of fee-paying schools, agriculture (or, at least, land ownership), nuclear power, and mortgage holding.

The issue is not whether these are good or bad things in themselves. It is whether “Thatcherism”, as ordinarily and noisily proclaimed (or derided), was compatible with their continuation by means of “market-bucking” public subsidies. It simply was not, as it simply is not.

Hers was the ludicrous pretence to have brought down the Soviet Union merely because she happened to be in office when that Union happened to collapse, as it would have done anyway, in accordance with the predictions of (among other people) Enoch Powell.

But she did make a difference internationally where it was possible to do so, precisely by providing aid and succour to Pinochet’s Chile and to apartheid South Africa. I condemn the former as I condemn Castro, and I condemn the latter as I condemn Mugabe (or Ian Smith, for that matter). No doubt you do, too. But she did not, as she still does not.

And hers was what amounted to the open invitation to Argentina to invade the Falkland Islands, followed by the (starved) Royal Navy’s having to behave as if the hopelessly out-of-her-depth Prime Minister did not exist, a sort of coup without which those Islands would be Argentine to this day.

There are many other aspects of any “Thatcherism” properly so called, and they all present her in about as positive a light. None of them, nor any of the above, was unwitting, forced on her by any sort of bullying, or whatever else her apologists might insist was the case. Rather, they were exactly what she intended.

Other than the subsidies to agriculture (then as now) and to nuclear power (now, if not necessarily then), I deplore and despise every aspect of her above record and legacy, for unashamedly Old Labour reasons.

Indeed, the definition of New Labour is to support and to celebrate that record and legacy, because it did exactly as it was intended to do, entrenching, in and through the economic sphere, the social revolution of the 1960s. You should not so support or celebrate unless you wish to be considered New Labour.

But then again, who cares these days? Or, rather, who really ought to care? When the next General Election is upon us, people will have the vote who were not born when she was removed from office in order to restore the public order that had broken down because of what, in her allegedly paradigmatic United States, would have been her unconstitutional Poll Tax.

At that Election, post-Thatcher teenagers will first enter Parliament in some numbers, a few being already there. And by the time of the Election after that, she will be dead.

Get over her!

Anonymous said...

What you're forgetting Shane is that CCHQ and especially the hard core Cameroonies don't give a fig for the Conservative base. In fact they'd be perfectly happy if all of the genuine conservatives gave up on the Conservative party entirely. It isn't just Brown and Labour who want to destroy the Conservative party you know, Cameron, Hilton and the rest of the LibDems in drag are also hell bent on that destruction too.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't she visited every PM at Downing Street?
Shame on you Wilson! You should have had the guts to say NO to whichever overgrown school kid put you up to this.

Anonymous said...

David Lindsay [12.00 a.m.] Your list of Margaret Thatcher's delinquencies is incomplete. She was also responsible for:

Declining hedgehog population

Scarcity of beach huts in Southwold, and

Oxford losing the boat race.

Anonymous said...

that's almost as good as the last 135 times you posted it, David Lindsay.

Anonymous said...

The media(never one to be slow at making mischief especially for the Conservative Party) is alleging that "Dave" has rebuffed invites from Lady T for tea not once but twice pleading "work commitments" and that unlike his predecessors has not actually paid a "reverential" visit yet in case he "turns off" those that he needs to attract who apparently loathe Maggie.(Doesn't appear to have put off Gordon ). I don't know if this is correct and neither do the media in truth.

But Maggie isn't that ga ga - she's still got a politically acute antennae and I suspect she was seriously miffed at Dave's "lese majeste" in the lack of acceptance to visit and decided to mete out a little of the good old "handbagging" of which greater men than Dave have fallen victim too whilst at the same time being seen to have been treated courteously as befits one our great post war PMs by a sitting Labour PM and political opponent in contrast to the treatment from the present leader of her party

Anonymous said...

Shane, you are an out and out moron, and it is people of your ilk who will bring our party down and there-by impoverish our nation and thus the world. You absolute idiot, run off home to your mummy and give us Iain back. I look forward to you starting a blog and it failing dismally.

Anonymous said...

David Lindsay,
For heaven' sake stop beating about the bush and tell us what you really think about Thatch!

Sceptical Steve said...

David Lindsay, if you really did wake up this morning with such a head-thunping, stomach churning hangover as the one you seem to have, I recommend you take a couple of paracetamol with plenty of water and go for a lie down in a darkened roon until the worst of it wears off.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

One can only wince and turn away when presented with the diatribe from David Lindsay, above. It is as splenetic and emetic as the worst Dave Spart nonsense of the Left. And modest types, like myself, are denounced here as "Labour trolls", forsooth!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there's some useful stuff in the Mail site ( While I am sure many have already seen it, it is worth parading before the generality:
The Mail on Sunday has learned that Lady Thatcher's most senior adviser, Mark Worthington, who was present at her meeting with Mr Brown, spoke out at a recent dinner attended by the former Prime Minister and senior Tories.

Mr Worthington said: "Gordon Brown wrote a charming letter inviting her for tea soon after he became PM, but David Cameron has not once asked to see her since he became Party leader."

The sources said that Mr Cameron had "added insult to injury" by asking Lady Thatcher to invite him to tea, so that he would not be seen to be taking the initiative.

"His office had the temerity to ask if she would like to ask for a meeting with him – so it would look as though it was all her doing," said a senior Conservative.

"Michael Howard often asked to see Lady Thatcher. She has only met Cameron when they happened to bump into each other at events."

If this has any basis in reality (and one's suspicions ...), then it is an equally enlightening and corruscating revelation of how bad things are at the top of the Tory Party.

God help all who sail in it.

Anonymous said...

Iain is a naive, trusting soul. Two weeks ago, he fell under the spell of a handsome stranger in the member's bar at Upton Park.
"Hi, I'm Shane," said the stranger. "Let me buy you a drink."
Hopelessly infatuated and unaccustomed to liquor, Iain awoke, with a hangover in a strange bedroom, wondering whether he really did agree to let this dreamboat look after his blog while he took a much-needed break.
He did, indeed. And, as Iain flew south to the sun, his seducer discarded his false moustache and shades to reveal....Chris Paul, new Labour Super Troll.