Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Question of Image

George Osborne
Not quite the finished article
I'd got half way through writing up my thoughts on the CSR/PBR in the commons today before an urgent call to action left it half-complete, but as far as I'm concerned Shane Greer has summed it up pretty well.

George Osborne performed pretty well today, but if I didn't follow these things as closely as I do I'd have to award the trophy, with as much enthusiasm as John Howard handed over the 2003 Rugby World Cup to Martin Johnson, to Darling. Macroeconomic announcements are my Achilles heel. I understand them after time and consideration, and the fundamentals are not that hard to grapple with, but in the few minutes at the dispatch box statements like these are the political equivalent of a skid-pan, being so easy to spin.

Osbourne did nothing wrong whatsoever. His positions, as far as I'm concerned with a a few hours' consideration were correct. In many ways his rhetoric was better, but overall, to be perfectly honest Darling did a better job. If I knew nothing outside that one debate I would have seen a strong governing party and a weak opposition grasping at straws. This is not the case, and initial media reaction seems to indicate the magnitude of Brown's cock up is coming home to roost in reactions to the exchanges, but this is not something that can be relied on to continue.

Greer highlights the key issues. I might take issue with the prominence of who sits near the main speaker; the management of front bench seating arrangements has always seemed a bit 'plastic' to me from NuLab, but then I watch probably more than a hundred times more Commons' coverage than most even being unattached to any party machinery, and I accept the fact that I am atypical.

On Osborne, in my opinion Shane is spot on. It was a very good performance in so many ways, yet for someone who is the closest in age to myself in the shadow cabinet he seemed young beyond his years. Yet he is good and spoke sense, and he should not be replaced on these trivial grounds. The Conservatives should not allow his opponents to do a 'Hague' on him, and allow minuscule issues of presentation to damage the public image of someone who has so much to offer.

I don't like the spin and image making, but the correlation that Shane makes about what Thatcher did presentation-wise is very apt. Thatcher took a few gibes from the voice coaching, but the overall effect was a huge win. I hate to say it, and for me Osborne is doing a good job as he is, but then it's not me he's selling to.

There are, in some small ways, issues of presentation where the Conservatives need to hold their nose and follow the concensus. For me, this is one.

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