There’s something quite amusing about a party that majored on the number of Etonians in the Cabinet as the substantive part of its response to the Budget briefing the Independent that it won’t stoop to ‘class war’ in its 2015 election campaign. Labour, apparently, will occupy the moral high ground next year, which suggests the party will have to change its messaging quite significantly from this:
‘What do this lot now call themselves? They call themselves the workers’ party. Who is writing the manifesto for this workers’ party? We have a helpful answer from one Conservative MP: “There are six people writing the manifesto…five…went to Eton”.
‘By my count, more Etonians are writing the manifesto than there are women in the Cabinet—no girls allowed. This week, we have heard it right from the top. Here is what the Prime Minister’s former best friend—[Interruption.] They do not like to hear it do they, Mr Deputy Speaker? Here is what his best friend—
‘Here is what the Prime Minister’s former best friend, his closest ally, the Education Secretary, had to say about the Prime Minister’s inner circle. He said it was ridiculous, preposterous, unlike anywhere else in the world. They know they are in trouble when even the Education Secretary calls them a bunch of out-of-touch elitists. Where is the Education Secretary? I think he has been banished. Ah—he is hiding! He has been consigned to the naughty step by the Prime Minister. It is time we listened to Baroness Warsi and took the whole Eton mess out of Downing street.’ Ed Miliband, 19 March 2014.
‘I hear that the Prime Minister did not properly understand what the Chancellor was saying. Apparently, when he told the Prime Minister that he wanted to cut taxes for Bingo, the Prime Minister thought he was referring to an old school chum: “Hurrah, another tax break for millionaires. Bingo, Bingo!”’
‘This weekend the Education Secretary took a further step in the Osborne rebranding. He said that it is “ridiculous”, and “preposterous” that Downing street is governed by a tight clutch of Etonians, and that that has got to change—we say “Hear, hear” to that, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, we all know what he was really trying to say through the pages of the Financial Times. He was saying, “Boris is a toff because he went to Eton, but George is a pleb because he only went to St Paul’s.” The Tory party is having a class war with itself. An Etonian elite has grabbed hold of the commanding heights of the economy, opposing the masses of Tories who went to lesser public schools. Old boys from Harrow and St Pauls, throw off your chains. What are they going to call themselves? The Bullingdon Bolsheviks? The Trust Fund Trots? Posh boys of the world unite?’ Ed Balls, 20 March 2014.
The Independent reports that Michael Dugher will hold ‘detailed discussions’ with Jim Margolis, Barack Obama’s ad-man, who ran campaigns in 2012 portraying Mitt Romney as insensitive to the plight of working people. Obama also ran more negative adverts in 2008 than any other candidate in history, according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project. Margolis has already put in the small print of his genius services that he can’t change the fortunes of every candidate – just in case things don’t worry out for Miliband.
The Tories think advice from Margolis will lead Labour to wage class war – although to be fair, there is a difference between suggesting someone is out-of-touch and shouting about Etonians. It’s just that Labour isn’t currently giving any impression it wants to distinguish between the former and the latter.