Manifesto Watch: The essential guide to Labour's launch
By Brian Wheeler
At the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Birmingham
VENUE: Vast reception area of a flagship £500m PFI hospital - so new the NHS has not even taken possession of it from the builders yet. The smell of wet paint is everywhere. "No, we haven't kicked all the patients out for this event," explains an exasperated Labour aide. The hospital will replace the one in which Tony Blair was buttonholed by Sharon Storer, a woman angry about the cancer care her husband was receiving, at the 2001 election. Oh, the symbolism.
VISUAL STYLE: Manically upbeat and optimistic. Sunlight floods in through high windows.
Is the boy on the manifesto cover meant to look like Tony Blair?
A cornfield sways gently on a big screen as a brilliant sun rises in the background. In truth, it is all very David Cameron circa 2006. The manifesto cover is a curious cross between utopian social realism from the 1930s and a margarine commercial. The little boy riding high on his dad's shoulders as he contemplates a "future fair for all" looks a bit like Tony Blair. Which may be no surprise, given its contents.
ATMOSPHERE: Partisan and fervent. My BBC colleague Nick Robinson is booed by the crowd of Labour supporters when he suggests the war in Afghanistan is not going as planned. The man from The Sun gets a bigger boo though.
As the excitement is steadily ramped up for Gordon Brown's arrival, the Cabinet walk to their seats in groups of 10 at intervals of two or three minutes. They have obviously been told to remain standing until the great man gets there. Some wave at friends in the crowd, others look like they are waiting outside the headmaster's office. The chosen few in the front row are: Jack Straw, Ed Balls (the most enthusiastic clapper), Yvette Cooper, Alistair Darling (rarely claps), Lord Mandelson (ditto), Harriet Harman, Ed Miliband (wrote the manifesto, first to congratulate Brown afterwards), Andy Burnham, Douglas Alexander and Alan Johnson. David Miliband is away at a summit.
YOUNG PEOPLE: Everywhere.
MUSIC: Uplifting and soulful. Brown's theme tune, as he and Sarah ascend into the gods at the end of his speech, past the inevitable cadre of young people lined up on the stairs, is "Your love keeps lifting me".
ANYTHING ON THE TV? An animation by Ridley Scott Associates - a company owned by the director of Alien and Bladerunner.
The animated video used at the launch
Not that there is anything sinister about the two minute tale of an average family "Jack, James and Jill". It is jaunty, matey and, judging from the groans emanating from the press seats, likely to be criticised for being vacuous and a bit patronising. Labour hopes it will act as an online gateway to their manifesto.
The 21-year-old Bristol University student, Ellie Gellard, who blogs on Twitter @bevaniteEllie. She introduced the film, explaining how the party wanted to get people talking about it on the net. It was the first time she had ever spoken in public, she revealed afterwards. It also emerged that two years ago she urged Gordon Brown to stand down on her Twitter feed, telling the Labour leader "get your coat". The press, needless to say, had a bit of a field day with that one.
DO SAY: They've only produced 2,500 hard copies. It's all about the internet now. This thing is going to go viral.
Ellie Gellard introduced a short animated film
DON'T SAY: Does it say anything in there about a VAT increase? Aren't they just trying to recapture Tony Blair's golden years?
KEY SOUNDBITE: "We are in the future business".
TELLING MOMENT: Mr Brown, who has been getting cabinet members to pitch in with answers to journalists' questions to show what a team player he is, looks over at Peter Mandelson to see if he wants to join in. Mandelson politely, but wordlessly declines.
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