Will playing the terror card deflect attention from PMQs?
For the first time in three weeks there’ll be PMQs in the commons and after the recent batterings Brown is going to extraordinary length to dominate the news agenda today.
According to the Mole column in the First Post the PM “has taken charge of a major announcement…on terrorism and border controls in order to steady the ship when everyone else is looking decidedly sea-sick.Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, was due to announce the results of his review of the terrorist threat in ‘enclosed places’ such as the London underground, railway stations and airports. But Brown told the Cabinet ..that he will take it over. He will combine the terror statement with the results of a long-awaited review by Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell of the merger of the Border and Immigration Agency, Customs and UK Visas as an integrated force.”
All this is being designed, apparently to give the PM the opportunity to show “that he is in charge”. This morning’s piece in the Sun, part of which is reproduced above, is all part of the same strategy.
During Gord’s honeymoon period in July a device that was deployed to “swamp” PMQs was to ensure that there was a key policy announcement – so that became the headline point blanking out the opposition. This worked very effectively then but will it work now?
Gord’s gamble today is that by personally taking over a statement that somebody else was going to make that he could be accused of playing politics with terror. In July the media was giving him the benefit of the doubt. That’s no longer happening.
My strong sense is that the Brown media relations operation is nothing like as effective as that which existed at Number 10 when Alistair Campbell was running things for Tony. Too many things have come unstuck.
Let’s see how today plays.