Elections, which pundits describe as "too close to call", are often decided by defining moments in the parties` campaigns. Those of us old enough to remember still cringe at the memory of Neil Kinnock`s "rush of blood" a week before the 1992 election at the Sheffield rally". Then, of course, there`s Gordon Brown`s "bigoted woman" faux pas in Rochdale in 2010! A repeat of such carelessness, one would have thought, would be the last thing Labour, with its team of advisers and American election-aides, would tolerate.
Emily Maitliss on "Newsnight" is a worthy successor to the overrated Paxman, keen as she is to weadle out of politicians the information most of the public require. So when the shadow chancellor is due to appear on the programme, at a time when the Labour party is under the media`s cosh for an apparent anti-business stance, it is not rocket-science to guess successfully what the questions` focus might be, and to prepare accordingly. "Need business leaders worry should Labour win the election?" "Will a Labour government help or hinder investment?" "Are there any business leaders actually supporting Labour?" " Can you name them?"
Why do arrogant Labour leaders think they can manage without aide-memoires? Wasn`t Miliband`s gaffe at the conference an example for them all to avoid at all costs? Do they really think the voters are impressed when politicians want to show how clever they are by using no notes? Memory lapses happen to us all, but lack of preparation smacks of carelessness and hubris. However, provided such things don`t occur on a regular basis between now and May, it shouldn`t do too much damage to Labour`s election hopes, and at least, Miliband is being "practised" for the TV debates.
Sadly,however, something worse has already happened, and this time, there can be no excuses whatsoever, as presumably the decision to run with it was taken after much group discussion and debate? This could well cost them the election; it has certainly dented my faith in the leadership, and I am a staunch Labour supporter who wants desperately a Labour victory to see off the most callous of governments in modern times. Goodness knows what effect it has had on those considering giving Labour their vote, perhaps for the first time!!
How could any politician, or anyone calling him or herself a political adviser in the 21st century, actually think for longer than a mini-second that female Labour MPs touring the country in a pink minibus was anything other than downright patronisation of women? They even compounded what was already a massive problem by saying it would enable them to discuss politics with women "around the kitchen table"!! They`re not even joking! "Grease" came to our cinemas in 1978, for goodness sakes, and even then, it was about a society in the 1950s in which it was cool to be a member of the "pink ladies". Didn`t anyone on Labour`s top table realise what an idiotic decision it would be to have a mini-battlebus anyway, without it being pink? One can only imagine what damage has been done, and what delight there would have been if the Tories had done it, confirming how out of touch with the ordinary people, and reality, they are. Is the electorate really expected to believe that Labour is different from the other parties? Boy, have they got an awful lot, both of work to do and manifesto changes to make, if this wrecked campaign isn`t going the same way as Kinnock`s. At least, his "rush of blood" was his alone!
Questions have been asked about whether the Tories actually want to reduce tax avoidance and collect more revenue, because it would almost force them to improve public services. The question about Labour is even simpler: do they really want to win this election?