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
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
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
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
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
Or so we thought. When pressed on whether Hoddle should go, the Prime
Minister said it was a difficult position and then actually said
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
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.