Not Saussure

April 3, 2007

They’re all turning on Gordon Brown…

Filed under: Politics, press, UK — notsaussure @ 5:07 pm

Polly Toynbee is becoming aerated in The Guardian on behalf of Gordon Brown, complaining about the way

Brown begins to feel the bite as the media barons let all their attack dogs off the leash. Cameron is many points ahead, Tory victory is not impossible – and Brown is their only obstacle. From now until general election day, this is war.

To this end, the Tory media conspiracy is creating a fuss about non-issues:

Note how almost the entire press is on song for the “£5bn pensions raid” story, with a single-minded, out-to-kill consistency across every Tory paper. This “stealth raid” happened 10 years ago in public at the dispatch box, and has been industry’s excuse for the retreat from company pensions ever since.

Tim Worstall points out that it’s not a one-off £5 billion ‘stealth raid’ that people are complaining about, and have been ever since, but an annual ‘stealth raid’ of £5 billion a year which, over 10 years…. He also notes that

it’s worse than that. The present value of a share is the discounted value of the future revenue stream (ie, the dividends from it). Assuming a 5% yield (not too far away from the truth) then (and I’m sure that people who actually understand how to discount such income streams properly can do better than my back of the envelope number) whacking £5 billion a year off means a fall in capital value of some £100 billion.

But things are even worse for Brown than Polly suspects; though she writes that

The Tories aim to create such an anti-Brown fever and anti-Brown polling that Labour panics and splits, getting the party to do much of the character assassination for itself.

As Tiberius Gracchus notes at Westminster Wisdom,

Polly doesn’t mention one leading candidate for such a role, a piece in a popular daily newspaper, by a leading leftwing commentator, which lambasted Brown as giving a budget which allows Cameron to attack him easily, a budget which removed his room for movement and made him a sitting target for the Conservative party- a budget which has disappointed his friends and cheered his enemies- a budget which confirms the impression that Brown is a cautious Scot stuck in a ‘twilight zone of uncertainty’. And who wrote this piece, it must have been upon the orders of George Osborne in this new Bush-lite campaign to attack the Labour leader presumptive- who wrote it, who has joined the conspiracy.

(One might quibble with the description ‘popular’ there, I suppose).

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  1. What could ever make the Guardian realise that Polly is simply an idiot, whose spouted views really aren’t worth printing? Obviously when it comes to people’s political views it’s hard to find any hard ‘truth’. But perhaps one could use Popper’s falsifiability criteria:

    When she totally, jaw-droppingly, embarassingly fails to grasp even the most basic concept of the week’s biggest political story – that it’s £5 b PA! rather than a one off amount – perhaps one can finally say her reputation as a political analyst has been falsified?

    Comment by alabastercodify — April 3, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  2. But, but…

    “What makes her stand out as a journalist is not only her strong views,” he [Andrew Marr] says, “but also her ferocious appetite for research. In a media world in which too many media columnists simply voice their top-of-the-head opinions, Polly always arrives heavily armed with hard facts.”

    Comment by notsaussure — April 3, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  3. I would also draw your attention to the fact that Polly is Columnist of the Year.

    Her reputation simply could not be any more stellar.

    Comment by Mr Eugenides — April 3, 2007 @ 6:27 pm

  4. Ah, yes. Thank you for reminding me, Mr E. She was given that accolade as part of the British Press Awards, who quote on their site the late Nicholas Tomalin, The only qualities for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability.

    Did you know the same people have made Robert Fisk ‘International Journalist of the Year’ seven times and ‘Reporter of the Year’ twice?

    Comment by notsaussure — April 3, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

  5. Gordon would be well advised to read about what happened in Canadian politics over the past fifteen years… the Liberal Party (a little Left of your Labour Party) had a series of majority governments over twelve years. Their leader, our Prime Minister, couldn’t lose at the polls. But his Minister of Finance — Paul Martin Jr. — decided he should be Prime Minister instead and orchestrated the removal of the most successful political animal in Canadian history (albeit one of our worst Prime Ministers). After two years of infighting Paul finally took over. Eighteen months later, under Paul’s guidance, the Liberal Party has collapsed.

    Paul blamed his election losses on the media as well.

    Comment by feartheseeds — April 3, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  6. Even Guido is attacking Brown and suggesting that people should stalk Brown. Will we see Guido up on charges yet?

    Comment by jailhouselawyer — April 3, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  7. Much as I don’t like to get involved in the Polly bashing, her piece today was execrable, with so many completely obvious counter-arguments that should have been staring her in the face.

    Comment by . — April 4, 2007 @ 2:00 am

  8. I have to say that’s my first moment of Polly bashing but her piece was so bad that day that I couldn’t beleive it.

    Comment by gracchi — April 10, 2007 @ 1:17 am

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