Fighting for [insert country name here]
You know, it’s funny. We’re told at this election that Iain Gray can stand up for Scotland against Tory cuts. Of course, he couldn’t even stand his ground against a gang protesting against those very cuts that Gray pledges to fight. One has to ask how a man who was beaten by the Tories in 2003 can be any more effective at this than the First Minister, who in more than 30 years of elections, has never lost to a Tory candidate. It’s also interesting that a man who felt gutsy enough to shout down a member of the public in a TV debate found himself running and hiding in a Subway when confronted in the open, but that’s by the by.
Anyway, take a look at Labour’s PEB, which went out on Tuesday night. Note Iain Gray, in the open-necked shirt, yalloping about the countryside in a Berghaus jacket, sitting with the family, harking back to his experiences in the 1980s, complete with grainy archive footage of crippled industry. Nothing about the election, nothing about the policies and issues that Gray will be able to do anything about, just the Tory Stick. Take in as many details as you can.
Then, take a look at Welsh Labour’s PEB, which went out on Monday. Note Carwyn Jones, in the open-necked shirt, sitting with the family (his dad talking about how Carwyn hasn’t changed and is still the same man he always was), harking back to the 1980s and the Miners’ Strike, complete with grainy archive footage of the dispute and the pits. There’s also the yalloping about the countryside shot, with the same bloody jacket!
There is, however, one difference: Carwyn Jones gets an endorsement from his predecessor, Rhodri Morgan, who was popular, who put “clear red water” between Labour in London and Labour in Cardiff Bay. He was a respected figure in Welsh politics, so he’s a useful asset. No one endorsed Iain Gray – no one in Scottish Labour has anything like the stature in Scotland that Morgan enjoyed in Wales.
Apart from that, the template is identical, and the two leaders have been slotted into it.
Then there’s the Labour PEB for the English local elections, which went out as Scottish TV viewers were watching Iain Gray (or not). Again, we have Ed Miliband in the open-necked shirt, talking about his father (less about his family, we note). There’s no mention of the 1980s, but we do have footage of a member of the public driving with his car window open, and almost getting carjacked by the Leader of the Opposition.
(Also, and I mean this not to be venomous but because it’s very noticeable – if I were a senior Labour staffer I would be looking into speech therapy for Miliband: there’s a very, very obvious stutter there and if he doesn’t conquer it by 2015, the TV debates will go against him in a big way.)
So three Labour Leaders in three broadcasts with only one format.
And what of the ‘proud Scot’ Iain Gray?
He’s lifted his policies from the SNP and his chance to sell them is shoehorned into a format clearly set out from London Labour. Once again, we see that Scottish (and Welsh) Labour have no ideas of their own, not even about presentation!