The Telegraph is reporting the details of an internal Conservative memo from James O'Shaughnessy, Director of Policy and Research, which read:
"It won't have escaped your notice that the Government has been very active in announcing new policies in the last couple of weeks. As befits the return of Mandelson this is mostly spin. However, they are filling the newspapers and we need to respond. We need ensure we have a strong and steady flow of our own policy ideas, speeches and announcements to release between now and Christmas. Please note that these do not need to be economy themed. Nor do they necessarily need to be brand new. Ways of refreshing existing policy, perhaps a policy we announced previously but didn't get much attention, can be very successful."
It might not be the most honest way of getting policies heard, but O'Shaughnessy has a point. With Gordon Brown parading himself all over the world as some sort of economic saviour - which is about as rich as Christmas cake - the Conservative message has been pushed to the back pages in recent weeks. By continuing to mention policies, both old and new, the Conservatives hope to get some of the media focusing on them once again, but also aim to combat Labour's nonsense assertions that they don't have any policies.
Liam Byrne, unsafe driver and Minister for the Cabinet Office, had this to say:
"This is yet another example of the Tories attempting to distract attention from the fact that they have no coherent proposal to deal with the current global economic turmoil. Families need to be on the look out for slick Tory PR that doesn't include any new answers for the challenges we face. This is pretty desperate from the Tories - instead of focusing on how to deal with today's issues they are rehashing the same old policies."
First of all, is anyone else as bored as me with all this 'the Tories don't know how to get us out of this mess' nonsense? Leaving aside the fact that quite a few ideas proposed by the Conservatives have been adopted by the government, Byrne's logic is akin to a murderer criticising the police for arresting him instead of helping him bury the knife and flee the country. The Conservatives have been quite detailed in their plans to prevent this sort of thing happening again - see George Osborne's speech last Friday, for example. And they are, rightly, attempting to make sure the public see Labour as responsible for the mess they have largely caused. The Conservatives don't have to come up with a solution because it's not their mess, and you don't offer to clean up somebody else's shit.
But it is Byrne's second point that really takes the biscuit. Apparently the Conservatives are all about slick PR, and are just rehashing policies. Leaving aside all the evidence to the contrary, particularly Osborne's aforementioned speech, this is is hypocrisy on a staggering level. Does Byrne not remember what happened last year during the Conservative conference? Does he not recall Gordon Brown trying to divert attention from the Conservatives by going to Iraq to announce the withdrawal of troops who were largely already home or set to come home anyway? Has he chosen to forget Brown's promise to make troop announcements to the House of Commons? And does he think that playing politics with the lives of troops is a lesser crime than pointing out that the Conservatives have plenty of policies, that they are right for this country, and that the government is desperately trying to save it's own arse?
Spending increases: the case for schools
2 hours ago