Look cheps, an £8 billion flying pig over thyah! Jolly good sheow!!
But that was then, and this is now: we no longer have Blair - well, not in power, anyway - but instead, the Tories are led by the self-confessed “Heir to Blair”. Young Dave memorably stood before the Commons and taunted Tone that “he was the future once”. Oh, how they laughed! Jolly good sheow! What might not have been expected is that the culture of multiple policy announcements would creep back in.
Ah well. That, folks, means either the Government goes and shakes the Magic Money Tree (tm) that they claimed did not exist, or someone else is subjected to more of those “efficiency savings”, or, as users of plain English like to call them, cuts. And given that NHS productivity is now suffering, those “savings” will have to verge on a cross between the heroic and the straightforwardly eye-watering.
And then a further problem enters: the Guardian may think it has been given an exclusive, but this is not a new commitment. Readers who are not yet as cynical as myself are referred to the front page of the Sunday Times from last weekend. There it is, announced to counter Mil The Younger’s perceived success in the previous Thursday’s TV leaders debate: “Cameron fights back with £8bn pledge on NHS”.
Caught bang to rights, Dave: the “Heir to Blair” and his sidekick, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, brought rather more of the Blair baggage to their party than they admitted. This is not only an apparently unfunded pledge, but it’s also the kind of repeat which Dave’s press friends would be only too eager to condemn if it was the hated Beeb doing it.
Someone in this campaign is getting desperate. And it looks like the Tories.