The Newsnight Show's resident Replutocrat finds favour with Mr Clogg?
Could my old fluffy sparing-partner Mr Frank “I invented the phrase DEATH-TAX” Luntz have completely lost his marbles this week or has he been replaced by a genuinely fair-and-balanced POD PERSON?
The answer is NO.
If a stage magician kept convincing you to pick the Knave of Diamonds (that’s Mr Balloon in this analogy, obviously) then pretty soon his act would get OLD!
Likewise, if Fluffy Frank (NOT a stage magician) wants to keep being IN the news, he has to generate SURPRISING new news from time to time. Then he can look IMPARTIAL. That way when he goes onto his REAL agenda and say that the Labour should keep Mr Frown, everyone will nod at how WISE he is.
Has he actually told us anything new?
We Liberal Democrats all knew already that if people actually LISTENED to what Liberal Democrats say – as opposed to the MEE-JA version (e.g. Mr Nick “mate of Dave” Robinson: "…and today the Lib Dems voted to lift the ban on SPOONS*") – then people actually like us. The evidence is there in the way our poll ratings get a boost every time there's an election on and the Representation of the People Act MAKES the news channels give us coverage.
Has he given up on his old (I keep telling you, Mr Luntz is NOT a stage magician) tricks, either?
Well, obviously Mr Luntz is ALWAYS as surprised by the outcome as the viewers are, but someone on his research team certainly did Mr Millipede no favours (in the "who should lead the Labour" piece shown on Friday) by choosing clips of all the OTHER possible candidates (plus Mr James Purnell) that had them sat down being interviewed by Mr Andy Marrmite but had Mr Millipede stood at a GILDED podium delivering a diplomatic address. Oddly enough, the focus groupies thought Mr Millipede was "out of touch" – how could THAT have happened?
Mr Purnell, incidentally, Junior Minister for Photoshop, what was HE doing on the list of choices, when the likes of Sooty and Ms Jacqui Spliff were not? You would have thought he could have benefited from being in "poll position" at the top right (remember, I said that that might have helped people think positively about Mr Balloon?). But of course, Mr Frank (no doubt quite ACCIDENTALLY) totally undermined that by opening with the question "Does anyone know who this is?" Not only does this EXPECT the answer no, the natural tendency to avoid putting your fluffy foot up to the first question subtly and OBVIOUSLY quite by chance reinforced this. Having got silence as a first response, then asking "Does no one know who is?" is only going to get more silence – who wants to look a NANA and admit that they DID know at this stage? So that's him shot down.
Ms Harriet Harpic was next, of course, and having made everyone feel dumb for not knowing the first person, all Mr Frank's subjects were keen to show that they weren't total thickoes… but what a stroke of luck that someone was SO keen that they shouted out her name so that EVERYONE knew who she was. Ms Harriet survived the Big Brother-stylee evictions until the final three, in spite of some strong negative reactions too her.
But in the end, Mr Frank had convinced his panel to whittle it down to a choice between keeping Mr Frown or replacing him with either Mr Alan Johnson or Mr Jack Man O'Straw. So that's the Prime Monster or a choice of Postman Pat or the Sinister Minister.
If this were a three card trick, you could have a choice between keeping the King or swapping for a Knave or a Deuce. Well what card are YOU going to pick?
Does it actually HURT the Conservatories, for Mr Frank to say that people who HEAR Mr Clogg PREFER Mr Clogg?
Well with Mr Balloon's drinking buddies SO FAR ahead of us and the Labour in polling numbers then no, not directly; and with it depending on that CONDITIONAL “IF people get to hear us” then since Mr Luntz can anticipate that the MEE-JA will NOT suddenly start giving Mr Clogg a decent hearing then actually that won’t make a difference either.
Or perhaps I am just being a CYNICAL old SOCK.
One thing that we CAN take away from this, is that we have a good answer the next time some interviewer is only interested in asking Mr Clogg "aren't you just Mr Balloon?"
That's not what Newsnight found when they asked real voters to choose between us, Mr Clogg can say.