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Tuesday 16 June 2015

Taliban New Labour - THE REALITY

Those familiar with what Lynton Crosby called the “Dead Cat Strategy” - the idea that throwing a pejorative comment into a debate is akin to putting a dead cat on the table, in that everyone stops their discussion because they’re all saying “Strewth, there’s a bladdy dead cat on the table” - seem not to have noticed that yesterday’s use by the Telegraph of the phrase “Taliban New Labourwas exactly that.
The Tel’s article, which toldLabour leadership contest: Cooper and Burnham camps declare death of ‘Taliban New Labour’ … Blairites’ bid to get Liz Kendall elected leader is declared a failure as campaign gets nasty”, was designed to do one thing, and one alone: to interfere in the Labour leadership election, by setting the various candidates’ camps against one another on what is rather obviously a false pretext.

The opening paragraph of Rosa Prince’s piece, “Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, the front-runners for the Labour leadership, have joined forces to pronounce the death of ‘Taliban New Labour’ and declare the Blairites’ attempt to recapture the party a failure”, makes a claim that the Tel will not, and indeed cannot, stand up. Readers are expected to believe that the paper has a source “close to [Andy] Burnham and [Yvette] Cooper”.

Moreover, that source has told “We are now seeing the end of Taliban New Labour. All of those Blairites who hoped they might get their candidate elected have failed”. Ms Cooper’s camp has distanced itself from the phrase, as well it might, as it had nothing to do with it. So what of the Burnham campaign? My enquiries have revealed that they, too, have no knowledge of any of their number using it. It didn’t come from them.
Taliban” is not merely a pejorative term; it is also a favoured means by which the press demonises its targets, as witness expressions like “Health and Safety Taliban” used in articles by, er, the Telegraph (see HERE). But its use here has had the desired effect: many Labour activists who should know better have taken it on trust, and, instead of debating the merits of the candidates, are aghast at the dead cat on the table.
So who is the beneficiary of “Taliban New Labour”? Ah well. Here I have to turn to my trusty friend Occam’s Razor. Who was the first with an interest in the Labour leadership contest to take to Twitter in condemnation? Step forward Mark Ferguson, at 0816 hours yesterday, telling “Another campaign has compared the  @LizforLeader campaign to the Taliban. Some people are all class”. YOU’RE NICKED.
He was followed by John McTernan, at 0930, withCharming description of party members who win elections as ‘Taliban’”, and Sebastian Payne of the Spectator - a personal friend of Ferguson - at 1134 hours with the shit-stirringUpdate on ‘Taliban New Labour’ remarks: a source on Team Burnham says the comments came from Yvette Cooper's team”. It’ll be fun to see him standing that one up, too.

So there’s the conclusion of my consultation with Occam’s Razor: Telegraph throws dead cat on to table, Liz Kendall’s team uses it to play the victim. Tories jump up and down with glee at Labour getting suckered once again. Should have seen that one coming, folks.


Anonymous said...

That's not Occam's Razor: that's a conspiracy theory. Occam's Razor would be that someone from someone's camp did say that to Prince and as a journalist she can't reveal her sources.

Ed Davie said...

I was a Lobby journalist with Rosa Prince, she's a true pro and would never invent a quote

Arnold said...

Arnold's corollary to Godwin's Law. Anyone who misuses the word "Taliban" has lost the argument.

Dab said...

Do you remember that interview with buzzfeed where Kendall claimed that she was a victim of misogyny (this is sadly true) and that some people had declared her too thing glamorous to win (this is not so true, and sort of obvious.) Basically, what I'm suggesting is that the original quote might have a seed of truth, but it's been exaggerated beyond all proportion to make herself look good.