Thursday, 28 October 2010

Boris Johnson's 'social cleansing' comment will damage coalition

Thomas Paine wrote 'that the summer solider.. will, in crisis, shrink from the service of his country.'

For the Prime Minister, he must be cursing the first summer soldier to stick his head above the parapet, the blonde mop of the Mayor of London.

This is because Boris Johnson's comments that he won't allow welfare cuts in London to be 'Kosovo like social cleansing' are more than just another 'Bojo' gaffe

What is shows is that with a Mayoral election on the horizon, Boris is prepared to put the coalition's neck on the line ahead of his own. The summer soldier is ready to turn his rifle on his own party.

This is before the full effect of any cuts have become apparent.

I am confident this public use of such strong (and completely unnecessary) language will damage the coalition because it sets a precedent.

Long into the night, when the winter of discontent has left its bite on the country, Lib Dem and Tory MPs will face the same decision as the Mayor.

Do we stick to the coalition line or do we play to the crowd, to try and battle Labour on the anti-coalition vote?

They may well take a glance at Boris, daring to march against the agreed line and see if he still holds power in the Capital.

If he does, then temptation will take hold.

It's not just a gaffe, Boris, it's a damaging blow to the coalition's internal and external reputation.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Rescue of the Chilean miners is a public relations operation

In the UK, our public figures do not miss an opportunity to comment on the issues of the day, no matter how trivial. If it means they can get in the media or win a vote, they will do it.

What better example than Gordon Brown wading in to the 2008 Brand-Ross scandal

So it should be no surprise to see the President of Chile live on Chilean news and around the world tonight as the trapped miners emerge from the subterranean prison after two long and dangerous months.

Neither should the mountain side media center and choreographed celebration shock us, it's a rare chance for the world to see Chile and they deserve a smooth PR operation to facilitate this.

It's not that the Chileans are taking advantage, they are simply following the tried and tested public relations exercises Western governments have used for years; often in cringe-worthy circumstances or in moments of national sorrow such as Tony Blair during the aftermath of Diana's passing.

Only this event is set to be a celebration, the victory of life over certain death. It's also one with huge commercial benefits to Chile as a nation and will see the miners transformed into celebrities, even as I write this.

So don't blame Chile as we lap up the coverage, admire their shrewdness. And let's hope that none of the miners leave a part of themselves when they emerge to deal with what is now a very different world than the one they used to live in.