Friday 7 November 2008


Thank God for that. I was almost overwhelmed with despair.

But just as I was reaching for my noose, the Department of Health (DoH) put out a press release claiming nine out of ten British people are happy.

Furthermore, seven in ten expect more ‘good’ than ‘bad’ experiences to happen to them in the next five to ten years.

A cynical blogger would say now that the Government has failed to do things to make us happy, they have resorted to just telling us we are and hoping we buy it.

A further groundbreaking discovery DoH's survey found was that over 90% of people thought British children should have an equal chance of living a long and healthy life and of becoming a top income earner.

They may as well have asked 'do you think good things are good?'

Actually, more worrying is that the result suggests 10% of us think children should die early and be poor.

This is what gives PR and stats a bad name.

On Brown's victory

A very experienced hack said to me yesterday that Brown's by-election defeat in Glenrothes couldn't be coming at a better time.

The economic crisis was still in people's minds and he had managed to make headway in the polls.

Such a defeat now, said the hack, would be far less damaging than if it had come eight weeks ago.

In fact, it was exactly the two things which the hack supposed made conditions right for the defeat, that actually led to Brown's victory.

Oddly, even though it seems more logical that the PM's handling of the crisis and his rising poll figures should equate to a victory everyone still assumed he would lose.

It's always good to know we can be surprised.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Bulwell's Barack

Nottingham North MP Graham Allen is planning his next election campaign!

Tory talk

A Conservative memo leaked to a Sunday paper suggested the party's PR troops might want to rehash old announcements to try and get more coverage.

The Tory PR machine has worked in overdrive for the last year trying to capitalise on good poll ratings.

But with a resurgent Gordon they have struggled to keep the initiative.

So yesterday the regional media were invited to a Tory transport briefing.

It ended up being on the high speed Birmingham/Leeds/Manchester rail-link, which was announced at their conference over a month ago.

There was no attempt to dress it up as a new announcement to be fair, I guess from their point of view it was worth a try.

But obviously there was never going to be a new story from the hour long session. Still, it was good to talk.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Can we try to steal some of Obama's sheen? Yes we can.

Broxtowe MP Nick Palmer must have stood up and sat down at least ten times during PMQs today.

He was trying to get in on the debate but it seemed to pass him by the poor fellow – he didn’t miss much anyway.

From beginning to end it was a competition of who could get the biggest piece of Obama pie.

The word “change” was slotted in all over the place by MPs on both sides of the House – Gordon even managed to work it twice into one sentence.

Dave opened with a neat little jibe asking whether, when speaking to Obama on the phone this morning, the PM had advised that it was “no time for a novice.”

The comment, a reference to Gordon’s conference attack on the Troy leader, bears an eerie resemblance to Clinton’s and McCain’s attack on the president-elect.

Brown hit back with an equally neat “I told him these were serious times for serious people,” – a further reference to his own speech.

MPs in every corner then started talking about what Obama’s policies were and asking whether the PM would follow suit – on tax, Iraq, the economy.

Even though it was inevitable, it was still particularly jarring when one MP stood up and said “yes we can!”

Gordon had the last word and ended by congratulating his new best friend and America for a second time.

Maybe the new President, unlike the last, will give him the time of day when he crosses the Atlantic.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

More ministerial training

Ah. As Lobbydog predicted the Ashfield MP's desire to try and put a positive slant on something inherently bad (see post below) has come back to haunt him.

This story, likening Hoon to Thomas the Tank Engine's Fat Controller, covered the front page of the Lancashire Evening Post today.

It followed statements he made about overcrowding on the West Coast Mainline and is the first sign that his brief might be trickier than imagined.

To really push the point home that overcrowding on trains is bad Tory Mark Pritchard plans to present the minister with a tin of sardines.

Monday 3 November 2008

Ministerial training

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has apparently upset some passenger groups by suggesting half-term overcrowding on trains was a “good thing”.

Speaking to a select committee Hoon claimed he was enthusiastic about the fact that lots of people were using trains.

The comment came after being quizzed by an MP about long, painful journeys on rammed trains up and down the UK.

A little context is needed – he also said the situation was unacceptable and that the Government was ploughing billions of pounds into buying more train carriages to tackle the problem.

So should passenger groups be annoyed given the context? I guess it depends on how badly affected by train overcrowding you are.

But it is a typical example of how ministers will try and have it both ways in their answers – even when acknowledging something inherently bad, they always try and find the positive.

Having had a tough time of it when he was at the Ministry of Defence the Ashfield MP knows he won’t always get away with doing that.

Now that the Department for Transport could be facing a rebellion over an additional Heathrow runway the future looks stormy.