The FT’s election panel kicked off its campaign watch today. Matthew Taylor, Tony Blair’s former policy chief, Charles Lewington, one time Conservative communications director, and Miranda Green, former press secretary to Sir Paddy Ashdown, joined me for the first of a regular series of discussions designed to guide you through the tactical minefields of the campaign. They placed their bets on the outcome and revealed the events and issues the parties will most fear as the election unfolds. You can watch the video below.
1) Gordon brings out the soap box The prime minister succumbs to a sudden, irresistible urge to converse with the public while standing on a wooden crate.
2) Gordon rolls up the shirt sleeves Pictures emerge of bare-armed prime minister directing emergency COBRA meeting on fears of new Blue Tongue outbreak. “He’s never been a buttoned-up kind of guy,” says aide.
There’s been one more victim of wash-up: the law to allow Lord Mandelson to leave the Lords and return to the Commons.
The “resignation” rule has been dropped by Jack Straw in an attempt to push the constitutional renewal bill through the Lords (which is proving very difficult).
Who reads election speeches? Certainly not voters and, mostly, not the journalists whose job you might imagine it is to report them. As an editor friend at the BBC tells me, news these days is all about “impact” rather than content; and, unless you are Barack Obama, speeches just do not do it.
But some speeches are worth a second glance. This – from Peter Mandelson – is one of them.
The Tories last week accused Lord Mandelson of rubbishing some of Britain’s leading businessmen - 68 of them so far – who had had the temerity to support David Cameron’s National Insurance policy.
In fact, the business secretary had not quite used those words. He had said the Tories were ‘peddling a cynical deception’ – and that their efficiency savings didn’t add up. That’s not quite the same as saying the business leaders were gullible.