Blair finds ’that’s not the way to do it’ on no-Punch and Judy show

When Alastair Campbell revealed his new media strategy to the world, via the pages of the Sunday papers, he could not have forecast how it would so spectacularly backfire only a few days later.

When Alastair Campbell revealed his new media strategy to the

world, via the pages of the Sunday papers, he could not have forecast

how it would so spectacularly backfire only a few days later.



Alastair had become fed up and frustrated with the media continuing to

report political trivia. He would therefore in future get his man, Tony

Blair, to talk to the nation direct through speeches and debates in the

House of Commons.



While it is easy to sympathise with his views, the fact remains that the

real reason for all these silly stories about travel expenses,

helicopter rides and so on is that the Government is performing so

well.



The opposition is non-existent and the more the Tories go along with

this line of trivia attack, the lower their poll ratings get. If I were

Alastair I would be very happy to let things ride. If he had plans to

change his media strategy he didn’t need to brief the press about

it.



The appearance of the Prime Minister on husband and wife team Richard

and Judy’s cosy TV show This Morning the very next day was met with

scorn and derision by the hacks. Here was a Prime Minister saying that

he wanted to talk about the serious issues of the day and here he was on

a programme seen by political hacks as the most trivial chat show on

TV.



Their criticism is misplaced, however. It has long been the policy of

New Labour spin doctors to ensure that Cabinet ministers regularly

appear on programmes that people actually watch and not just the boring

political shows. I should know. Gordon Brown has appeared on Richard and

Judy’s show twice since the election and more often on GMTV than the

Today programme.



True to form, Richard and Judy wanted to talk not about health and

education, but about what Cherie looked like in a swim suit, how the

kids were doing at school, and, of course, Glenn Hoddle. What a soft

interview.



Or so we thought. When pressed on whether Hoddle should go, the Prime

Minister said it was a difficult position and then actually said

’yes’.



He never meant to, of course, but despite Number 10 backtracking, Tony

Blair had gaffed.



It was his first gaffe as Prime Minister. Not from a grilling by Paxman

or Humphrys, but by Richard and Judy. This should not have been a

surprise.



The fact is that the ’soft sofa’ interview is not soft at all.

Politicians will spend hours preparing to face John Humphrys for On The

Record and their level of concentration will be very high.



They will turn up to face Frost or Richard and Judy in a much more

relaxed frame of mind. More fool them and a hearty ’Well done’ to

Richard and Judy.



Sir Bernard Ingham is on holiday.



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