Alex Hilton: Number 10 needs its linchpin back

Sometimes I would like to take the Prime Minister by the shoulders and shake him a bit while telling him what he is doing wrong and how he could do it better.

Alex Hilton
Alex Hilton

As a Labour supporter one accepts the odd mistake will be made in government, but one does not expect one’s party to be vilified even when it is doing things right.

An example is MPs’ expenses; making them more transparent than they have ever been is an illustration of something the Government has done right and yet still it is getting it in the neck from the media. How does it manage to handle the media so badly?

It started with the YouTube video. Someone advised Gordon Brown to be perky on the video while discussing a boring matter of parliamentary housekeeping. That same person watched it and allowed it to go public. Is there no-one at Number 10 charged with saying ‘no f***ing way’ when someone does something stupid?

If the Government insisted on a YouTube video, it should have given an exclusive interview to a student journalist. All the ministerial vlogs I have seen have made the same mistake; it is just a minister with a camera and a prepared speech. Even the friendliest interview is more interesting than that. An interviewer provides drama and the expressions that flit across the subject’s face are triggered by the questions. But instead it looks like Number 10 went to great effort to actually dehumanise its principal.

I have to admit I have just seen the film In the Loop, where Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker steers the Government through an international crisis using only the power of condensed vitriol. But the Tucker character, supposedly modelled on Alastair Campbell, has a role seemingly unfilled in the real Number 10. It has media people and it has political people, but it does not seem to have anyone who can operate effectively in both arenas.

And this role is essential. It must be time for Campbell to return to Number 10. Pay whatever price; offer any concession; but someone has to be the Government’s missing linchpin.

Alex Hilton is a Labour parliamentary candidate and founder of political blogs Labourhome and Recess Monkey

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