Saturday, February 23, 2008

Auschwitz Gimmick: Cameron & Osborne as Lame Ducks

When my daughter and her schoolmates went on a school trip to Auschwitz last year, age 14, it was parents who footed the bill. Around £200 for a few days as I recall. This cost must have affected which students were able to make the immensely valuable trip. The Government plan to subsidise such educational visits, and specifically this one, is hardly a gimmick. The money could be directed at those most in need of support to provide free trips rather than general subsidy. My only quibble with the scheme is that it is directed only at sixth formers.

The Guardian slam Cameron here and again here for his thoughtless folly. With Michael White eavesdropping a failure in comprehension from CCHQ that there is even a problem linking the words "Auschwitz" and "gimmick". Reading between the lines I don't think even Guido believes that Cameron is not responsible or that this gaffe is not a gaffe.

To be fair every one of this PDF list of "gimmicks", with Auschwitz at No 4, comes in pretty rich from Cam.

The man who flew in a Carbon-belching executive jet to commune with Huskies; who went to great lengths to reap a whirlwind of guffaws for a half arsed wind turbine; who had a car or cars trail his PR bicycle, at least wearing a fetching helmet unlike Boris; who overnighted with an Asian family but imposed a phoney Tory for his cult-of-personality new party; and let's not forget the opportunity to referendum for more loos.

As Dominic Lawson pointed out last August that Cameron needs to learn the ropes if he's going to trade in gimmicks. With this insight into the Saatchi/Hilton/Cameron Axis of Gimmickry:

It was one of the men who helped get Mrs Thatcher into power, Lord Saatchi, who this week landed the most savage blow on Mr Cameron. The great master of the brand image declared that the "modern, compassionate Conservative Party" did not seem to realise that "a political party is not a brand." Saatchi analysed Cameron's method to date and asserted it to be little more than an exercise in "brand decontamination". "Unfortunately," said Saatchi, "the nature of the supposed strain of contamination - 'nastiness' - is irrelevant to electoral outcomes.
It is a truth universally not acknowledged that politics is about money ... there is only one discriminator between electoral success and failure - the party rating for economic competence."
You need to know a little personal history to understand the passion in this brutal critique. It's not that Maurice Saatchi was Conservative Party chairman under the previous leader, Michael Howard - although he was. It is that Mr Cameron's strategy of "brand decontamination" - ridiculed by Saatchi as "nicey-nicey" - is entirely the creation of his "special adviser", Steve Hilton. Mr Hilton is a former protégé of Lord Saatchi - the advertising magnate recruited him to his agency, and reportedly said that "no one reminds me as much of me when young as Steve." The two men fell out during the 2002 Conservative Party conference, allegedly because Mr Hilton did not agree with Saatchi's insistence on tougher policy commitments - and the peer eventually disposed of his services.

This is presumably why - alongside their own gimmicks and lies - Cam and Goo continue to launch silly attack after silly attack on financial events which the Great British public ignore, like water off a duck's back. Are this "dream team" of a new relaxed conservatism - that we never actually believed in - quietly or rather manically becoming a pair of lame ducks?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the government thought it was important to help fund these trips, then why is it only stumping up enough money to essentially allow 0.6% of all sixth form age full time students go? Given how much lower 0.6% is than the amount of children in poverty how exactly is this really doing anything other than making a gimmicky statement? No-one is saying that the government is wrong to put the money up, but how about putting REAL money up.

£4.65mil sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but over three years it is pittance and funds only 4.5k students a year out of 700k+ to take the trip.