Popular support costs money

Posted by Tim Ireland at 20 March 2006

Category: Tony 'King Blair

This entry was posted on
Monday, March 20th, 2006
at
11:55 am and is filed
under Tony ‘King Blair.

Guardian – Unhappy Prescott defends PM as poll ratings dive
Blood & Treasure – Tony the time waster
Beau Bo Blog – Loans for honours
CuriousHamster – Totally Above Board
BlairWatch – David Mills For Party Treasurer!
Nick Robinson – Question of the day

You know, as interesting as it is to see the putrid contents spilling on the floor following this forced autopsy – and as entertaining as it is to see Tony Blair take control of the fundraising issue (which is surely the issue here) with immediate and bold action that’s almost a decade overdue – the thing that really sticks with me is this:

What. That. Money. Was. Spent. On.

The answer is incredibly simple, and easy to spin in that infuriatingly earnest way that Blair has; this money was spent on ‘real people’…

Quite early on in this ‘game’ with new rules, Blair assured Parliament that he would be held accountable by the electorate (rather than, say, history or God) if he was wrong about Iraq… so of course it was vitally important that – during his 2005 election campaign – the issue only ever came up in tightly controlled conditions. We wouldn’t want the electorate getting carried away, now would we?

And so it was that Tony Blair found himself in a magical fantasy land where everyone he met was far more interested in his vision of the future than his crimes of the past..

Independent – ‘Rent-a-crowds’ ensure nothing is left to chance on campaign trail (mirror)
Dead Men Left – Like a Virgo
Guardian – ‘We only work for croissants’
Guardian – How Labour used its election troops to fake popular support

Admittedly, these ‘real people’ were so thin on the ground that they had to be rationed carefully and shipped with great care…. however, sometimes Tony also needed a ‘real setting’ in which to meet ‘real people’, and here the costs were higher… especially so in this election. (In 2001, shutting down entire cafes for staged meetings with the ‘public’ was the norm (an interesting article that touches on this can be read here). In 2005, they actually *built* outdoor cafes so Blair could have a ‘spontaneous’ chats in them.)

There was also the much larger army of agenda-setters… and thanks to people like Zack Exley, the ‘genuine letter from a concerned constituent’ technique was given a 21st-century upgrade. Blogs, discussion groups and feedback boards were chock-full of ‘real people’ trying to:

1. Keep us ‘on-message’ (“Schools! Hospitals! Free ice-cream!”) and plea with us to shut up about Iraq.
2. Warn us of the ‘certainty’ that the Tories would win should we dare to deliver a protest vote over Iraq.
3. Paint any attempt to force accountability over Iraq via the ballot box as a mindless/personal attack on Tony Blair.
4. Defend Blair over Iraq and the war on terror in ways that he and his ministers would never dare. (“You know, sometimes it’s right to torture people. Why, if there were a ticking time bomb…”)

‘Honest’ John Prescott was wheeled out over the weekend to assure us that campaigns needed to be well-funded for the good of the people. He said; “If you want an informed democracy, you’ve got to have campaigning.”

Ah, yes… an informed democracy. Nothing quite like it, is there?








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