Coffee House

How the Conservatives turned Labour’s attack dog into their PR agent

6 June 2014

Here’s a clever way to get more exposure for your political slogan. You say it so often in speeches, press releases and planted questions from the whips that it seeps everywhere, you start dreaming it, and your opponents get very cross indeed. Then your opponents accidentally say your political slogan while all mithered. Then they get a bit jealous that it’s popping up in every single piece of government literature so they complain about this political slogan, which they mention, again, thus ensuring it reaches more and more and more people.

Bravo to an opposition that stays calm in the face of a barrage of ‘long-term economic plans’ designed to goad them and signify to voters that Labour has a short-term, wibbly sort of plan and only the Conservatives can finish the recovery. The last thing Labour would want to do would be to start repeating the slogan in an angry voice.


Which is of course exactly what Labour has done this afternoon. Michael Dugher has written to Sir Jeremy Heywood (who is currently investigating two cabinet ministers who are too busy scrapping to say ‘long-term economic plan’ the requisite number of times) demanding an investigation into whether government communications are inappropriately using Conservative party messages. Dugher writes:

‘I am writing to express concerns that taxpayers’ money is being routinely used to promote the Conservative Party’s messages.

‘The Civil Service have made promotion of the Government’s “long term economic plan” a priority, devoting taxpayers’ money and considerable civil service resource to the cause.’

Whoops! He said it again. In the next line, Dugher quotes the Government Communications Plan which contains the evil phrase once again. And then he mentions it again. And again. All in all, Dugher manages to pump out ‘long-term economic plan’ 11 times, which is a score even ambitious ministers who really want a lot of gold stars on the PM’s reshuffle chart would struggle to match.

Labour’s attack dog then says that ‘in light of the obvious public interest in this matter I am releasing a copy of this letter to the media’. Which is handy, because while Dugher might have been pursuing a perfectly reasonable line of inquiry, he’s now getting written up as complaining that ‘long-term economic plan’ is plastered everywhere, thus reminding everyone who reads the newspaper coverage of who is claiming to have that plan. Even those of us who are growing a little weary of hearing this phrase have to congratulate the Conservatives for managing to deploy one of Labour’s best attack dogs as their own PR agent.

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  • global city

    The caption under the dog picture perfectly presents the conversation that Cameron must have had with nearly every member of the MSM.

    Not, Isabel, of course.

  • Apoplexy

    “Long term economic plan” is just the Tory version of “Prudence”, what goes around, comes around.

  • Benedict

    Long term economic plan = we have failed in the short term, please forgive us and re-elect us.

  • Chris Hobson

    Long term economic plan are the conservatives now communists with 5 year plans.

    • Mynydd

      For the sake of the UK I hope not, Stalin’s 5 year plans failed. But there again Mr Cameron’s first 5 year plan failed, there is still a £90bn monthly deficit rather than the books being balanced. So I don’t hold out much hope that the next Cameron/Osborne 5 year, Stalin type, plan will be any more successful.

  • Mike Barnes

    You’re right it is a long term economic plan. Very, very long term. I mean the original plan to eliminate the deficit by 2015 should have been almost finished by now…

    • Mynydd

      One not must not forget that in a Party Political Broadcast Mr Cameron said, we are paying down the debt, when he knew the debt was increasing to such an extent that Mr Cameron will add to it more in 5 years than the last government did in 13 years. Isabel why not write about that, rather than about CCHQ hand outs..

  • you_kid

    Let’s not lose focus.
    With a weak UKIP as we see it today I would not be surprised if Lagarde would ruin this nation properly the first moment an opportunity presented itself.

  • swatnan

    Looks like an own goal by Durger. The words are not exactly copyright.

    • Mynydd

      An own goal by Durger, how does that compare to Mr Cameron missing an open goal at the 2010 general election.

  • Holly

    Quite impressed by your QT appearance.
    Now all you have got to master is, writing your posts the same way as you speak in person.

    • swatnan

      Fudged the answer to Sgt Bergolt though. All the Panel playing up to the audiance. There should be no hostage deals. Full Stop.

  • Hamburger

    If I did not have a long term economic plan I would keep quiet about it rather than shouting about it from the rooftops.

  • Denis_Cooper

    What does it mean, anyway?

    Anybody got any idea?

    • global city

      It looks as though Isabel has bought herself a nice dog.

    • Holly

      It means….the Tories have a long term economic plan, and have got Labour to repeat it for them.
      I could be wrong though.

  • Bill Ellson

    Cruel, but amusing.

    • goatmince


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