WHAT THE MEDIA SAY: Blair speech is given the green finger

Organisation: New Labour



Issue: Tony Blair's green speech



Tony Blair's spinmeisters pulled out all the stops for his keynote

environment speech to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, positioning the

speech as the Prime Minister's personal conversion to green issues, and

important enough to delay Gordon Brown's pre-election Budget by a

day.



The green lobby, long awaiting clarification of the Government's

environmental policy, was the driving force behind the initial response

to Blair's speech, as it almost universally welcomed increased spending

on renewable energy, and evidence of 'joined-up green thinking in 10

Downing Street' (news.



bbc.co.uk, 6/3). Only the Green Party saw through the 'emperor's green

clothes', stating that 'on environment policy, Tony Blair is virtually

starkers' (news.bbc.co.uk, 6/3).



The media's response was more cynical, and typified by the headline 'I

hope you mean it this time, Tony' in the Evening Standard (5/3). 'The

unspun truth remains that he has yet to deliver on his promise, before

the last election, to enshrine green issues 'at the heart of government'

it noted, a sentiment mirrored in The Independent's editorial: 'A fine

speech, Mr Blair. Now let's have some action to help the environment'

(7/3).



Opposition spokesmen contributed to the scornful tone of reporting,

generously amplifying the message that Blair's apparent commitment to

fighting climate change was no more than a pre-election stunt to woo the

green vote, and accusing the Government of doing 'too little, too late'

(Yahoo.com, 6/3) on environmental issues.



The reasons for the spinners' hype became clear after the Budget, which

contained pounds 1.7bn fuel and road tax cuts, measures largely seen as

a pre-election sop to motorists. The Guardian was one of the few

newspapers to notice 'the blatant contrast between the Chancellor's

measures and the principles which the Prime Minister enunciated just 24

hours earlier' (7/3).



The environmentalists who had trumpeted Blair's new-found green

credentials just one day earlier confessed 'bitter disappointment' with

a Government seemingly 'facing two directions at once' (FT.com,

8/3).



But with the bulk of papers focused on the Budget's electoral

implications, the contradiction in Government policy went largely

unnoticed in what appeared to be another victory for Labour news

management.



Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found

at: www.echoResearch.com.



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