Hot on the heels of yesterday’s so called ‘withering’ attack (perhaps withered might be more apt) on Gordon Brown over MPs’ expenses (see my post yesterday : Cameron is losing it ) today the top Tory launches a poster campaign (OK these days poster campaigns tend to just get wheeled round on the side of a lorry for a while – but they get a lot of press coverage).
Just feast your eyes on this :
It’s difficult to count all the ways in which this so spectacularly fails to hit home. Let me try though :
1. Health Secretary Andy Burnham has categorically denied any plan to introduce such a tax :
“The Guardian’s story suggests a £20,000 flat levy and I am not currently considering that as a lead option for reform,” he said.
“That figure was used in the green paper last year, but I do not believe a flat levy of that kind would be the right way to go. So I can say to you very categorically today that is not what we are considering.”
(Source : Brown’s ‘death tax’ denied )
2. He denied it after the Guardian article which he refers to (Inheritance levy to fund social care being considered by ministers) but before the poster was unveiled – The Tories knew it was a lie before it even hit the streets - so they’ll be accused of lying, and also not knowing what the Government’s plans are.
3. The Conservatives are in no position to draw attention to plans on inheritance tax. My post in November Just who would benefit from Cameron’s Tax cuts ? drew attention to Labour’s position re. the Conservatives’ plans pointing out that only those with estates of more than £700,000 would benefit from those plans.
4. Not only does drawing attention to Inheritance Tax reveal the unfairness of their own plans, it also reminds the public of one of David Cameron’s more spectacular trashings in PMQ’s by Gordon Brown – when GB came out with the taunt that
‘Cameron and Osborne “will know by name” almost all of the people who will benefit from these measures – and adding “Is this what the Conservatives mean when they say ‘we’re all in this together?’
5. The poster comes on the back of the Tories’ previous disastrous own goal poster which showed an airbrushed David Cameron, and launched a whole cottage industry of edited versions of the poster – it’s hardly likely to suffer a better fate – replacing as it does, the smooth forehead of David Cameron with the smooth stone slab of a grave stone. Will it be a good swap we wonder ? – I’d imagine there’ll be alternative versions of this on the net before midnight – perhaps here : http://www.mydavidcameron.com/ . Expect Zombies !
6. The phrase “death tax” is lifted straight out of the vocabulary of right wing American politicians – and specifically conjures up the ‘Death Panels’ talked of by right wing American politician Sarah Palin – a figure of ridicule in the UK. The expression was used in attacks on President Barack Obama’s plans to introduce universal health care in the USA, and alongside criticism of the UK’s National Health Service – this serves to remind the UK public, not just of the opposition by some Tories to the very idea of the NHS – but specifically of the maverick extremist Daniel Hannan, who claimed that the NHS was a “60 Year Mistake” on American TV , who stands by his pronouncements, and who has not been reprimanded in any way by David Cameron, despite his claims to support the NHS. ( See my post Daniel Hannan’s outpourings on the NHS – Will Cameron slap him down ? ) – raising fears of both the Tories’ lack of commitment to the NHS, and David Cameron’s inability to control the lunatic fringe (or is it the mainstream ?) of his party.
The whole Daniel Hannan episode of course sparked the massive #WeLoveTheNHS Twitter campaign, massively embarassing for the Conservatives, and which perhaps can be seen as a turning point in the fortunes of Gordon Brown’s government.
7. And finally … It’s just not all that funny. Surely they can do better than this.
So once again I say that David Cameron is losing it – losing the plot, losing the argument – and increasingly he’s losing the election campaign.
[ UPDATE : This article now re-posted at House of Twits : Front Bench Blogs Many thanks ! ]
Sorry but I just can not resist posting this about David Cameron’s reported meeting with the radical nursing group Nurses for Reform
It is reported in the Telegraph : David Cameron meets NHS privatisation campaigners , with the by line : “ David Cameron has met a health care pressure group that advocates full privatisation of the National Health Service – a meeting that could infuriate doctors and nurses.” ; that he met with the group two weeks ago.
Certainly the group themselves are full of this – the article David Cameron seeks policy ideas from NFR appears on their website, and neither do they make any bones about their support for dismantling the National Health Service, in this article on the Adam Smith Institute website The micro-politics of hospital privatisation .
It’s on their own site though that I spot the most flabbergasting statements About Nurses for Reform
“NFR rejects bland egalitarianism in favour of competition. And it believes in people – not politics.”
All of which leads me to believe that Mr Cameron has once again been upstaged by the right wing of his party – and this time it’s not recognised fringe mavericks like Daniel Hannan doing the NHS down – no this time it’s cuddly Dave himself, in what I would guess will prove to be a huge embarrassment to the Conservative party.
Of course I’m not alone in thinking that, the Telegraph article itself does point out similar concerns :
“His decision to meet the radical group, which calls the NHS a “dystopian, Soviet-style calamity”, will be seen as foolhardy after the painstaking efforts he has made to reassure voters that the NHS is safe in Tory hands. The meeting risks reigniting the row which exploded four months ago when Mr Cameron was forced to distance himself from a leading Tory MEP who suggested that the NHS was a “mistake”. “
The Telegraph remember, is rather more well disposed towards the Conservative party than I am. The article also says …
“the meeting is bound to be exploited by Labour ministers in the run-up to the election. Nurses For Reform, by its own admission, is the most extreme pressure group calling for NHS privatisation in Britain. On its website it denounces the NHS as a “Soviet” organisation which must be dismantled.”
(This image is contained on the Nurses for Reform website – it may not embed correctly – please visit the site at http://www.nursesforreformblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Cameron-300×225.jpg to see the original in context )
Not my usual stuff this, but I thought this was brilliant and wanted to share it …
My wife had a hospital appointment today, for an MRI scan at the National Neurological Hospital in Queen Square, London (not as drastic as it sounds actually – Oh and did I mention that Queen Square are brilliant – #welovethenhs !)
Anyway they have about 8 scanners at various points in the hospital. For some reason all of them were very busy, and right away they started apologising about the likely wait. They didn’t sit on their laurels though, and after a bit of ringing round she was informed that if she would like to follow this particular radiographer she’d be able to have the scan in a mobile scanner, in another part of the building.
So off she went. Only trouble was the radiographer wasn’t exactly sure of where the machine was, and when he eventually found out, he wasn’t precisely sure of how to get there. See, he’d only started in this hospital today, and wasn’t supposed to be working on this anyway – he’d been drafted in to ease the waiting times. So they went up a few stair cases along a few corridors in and out of a few doors etc etc, and all the time the radiographer was the consummate sober professional, making polite conversation, and trying to look as if he knew where he was going.
Then they passed through a pair of double doors and …
The radiographer hugged the man at the other side of the doors, and within seconds the two of them were jumping up and down, shrieking with delight and dancing for joy, leaving my wife standing somewhat perplexed.
The radiographer then explained to her that the man was his best friend from his home in Nigeria, who he had not seen or heard from since leaving home to train as a radiographer 5 years ago. His friend was now a Senior Registrar at the hospital, and both were delighted to have seen each other totally by chance, and neither knew the other was in England, never mind the NNH.
The friend gathered his composure, and asked “Who is your colleague ?”, and my wife answered “Actually I’m not his colleague – I’m one of his patients”
The long lost compatriots looked sheepish, and the radiographer said “We’d better take you for your scan”, and things went a little quiet.
“Oh for crying out loud – you haven’t seen him for 5 years – get his phone number, my scan can wait ! ” interjected my wife.
So he did, and it did, and actually there wasn’t much of a wait.
Anyway – I hope you liked this story – I did.
As I say, not my usual – but if you’re looking for a political angle, then how about “broken Britain” – because I don’t think Britain is broken. I think it’s a great place where great things happen every day that make people happy. This was one of them !
The Mail’s a strange paper. It seems to me as a Labour voter to be an extreme right wing publication. Supporting the Tories whatever the reasoning and presenting a warped, misleading and dangerous view of the news.
I do hear Tories though, complaining that it’s dangerously left wing !
The article above is a classic. It basically says that Daniel Hannan and Alan Duncan are in trouble with David Cameron for speaking the truth, in their claims about the NHS and MP’s salary & expenses. In reality though they’re in trouble not for speaking the truth – but for speaking their mind – not quite the same thing. you know what though – if I were writing the article in a way that did the Conservatives down, that’s a distinction I’d deliberately blur – and I think it’s deliberate on the author Peter Hitchen’s part as well.
This article isn’t quite pro-Labour though – because he does actually say that he agrees with Hannan – so the article is simultaneously : publicising disagreement within the Conservative party, urging Cameron to do something more drastic about Daniel Hannan AND Alan Duncan, and finally agreeing with Daniel Hannan.
I make that riding at least three horses at once.
I think if anything this has to be interpreted as something of a “make things difficult for David Cameron” piece. Although why a Tory supporting paper should want to wade into the party’s biggest asset is beyond my comprehension – but what does a rabid left winger like me know ?
Always remember though that although they may have an interest in securing the Tories into power, at the end of the day, their stock in trade is not politics but journalism, and the more outrageous we feel their articles are, the more prompted to blog about them we become, the more they’ll be satisfied that they’re doing their job and selling papers.
Still don’t know how they sleep at night though !
(PS – Sort of puts me in mind of my comments on Polly Toynbee around the time of the Euro Elections : Polly Toynbee – is she saying sorry to GB ? )
Just a quick observation.
The #welovethenhs hashtag on Twitter has over the last 2-3 days gone totally viral. Catching an unsuspecting public unawares and picking up on Daniel Hannan’s latest ridiculous TV outings in the US. It made top headline on the BBC News website today, and has prompted Conservative leader David Cameron to speak out in support of the NHS. (Although not yet properly “slapping down” Daniel Hannan, as I suggested in an earlier post Daniel Hannan’s outpourings on the NHS – Will Cameron slap him down ? )
But the response – spontaneous though it seems, has not been immediate.
This broadcast was a few days ago.
Also the quote which the BBC (and myself) seem to have picked up on is the one about the NHS being a “60 year mistake” – and that wasn’t even in the latest interview – it was in the one which John Prescott was desperately trying to whip up a campaign about, several weeks back ( See John Prescott’s GoFourth blog “Progressive, Don’t make me laugh !“).
The older video was actually pretty much “viral” in its own right on Youtube – and as much for the far right adulation of Hannan’s position as for any opposition to it.
Another Youtube video that has been given a lot of prominence has been a Fox news interview of neo-con Jerry Bower by Neil Cavuto in which a preposterous link between the NHS and Islamic terrorism is made, with several more ridiculously racist outbursts as well.
And when did this first get an airing on TV ? Just before the Hannan video ? Just after ? Between the last one and this one ?
Well the date on Youtube is 7th July 2007.
So why is it that despite lots of hyping and effort by the great and the good – and hardly any attempt to cover these interviews up, the issues have made barely a ripple in the mainstream news, and yet suddenly the collective conscience of Twitter decides that now is the time
And for a change Labour score a direct hit !
All I can say is that it can only be down to timing, and if the Labour party, or anyone else for that matter knew the secret as to how to manipulate it in relation to Twitter and the new media – then they’d have winning elections down to a fine art as well.
I’d also have far more visitors to my blog !