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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 19:25 GMT 20:25 UK
The Campaign Today with Nick Robinson

It's Thursday of the third week. Join Nick as he files his copy throughout the day.


Last updated at 2.57pm
Click here for latest update


Subject: Go get 'em
Sent: 10.50am

Tony Blair's decided to make an issue of his frustration with the media coverage of the election. He says we're ignoring the real election issues, by which he means investment in public services versus cuts.

An advisor of his tells me that TV news should involve "the three Ss":

  • soapboxes - the politicians speaking for themselves
  • scrutiny - correspondents analysing what they've said, and
  • scepticism.

    Blair's complaint is that there's much too much of the last S, and not nearly enough of the first two.

    His strategists accept however that they threw away most of their best news stories in the run-up to this election - launching policy ideas to fill the vacuum produced when the election was postponed.

    So I'm told the prime minister told them last night: "Go get some stories."


    11.45am


    It's a bit rich you saying that it isn't your job to interpret politicians words for them - I thought that was exactly what the media spent most of their time doing?

    Steve, Exeter


    Subject: Read my tips
    Sent: 12.39pm

    You're right Steve, interpretation is our job. But it's not our job to get politicians out of holes that they are unwilling to dig themselves out of publicly.

    What all politicians want us to do is to give them the deniable good news story. In other words, we say Gordon Brown's got no plans to put up this or that tax. But no quote exists, no on the record statement, so that if he does have to put up the tax, he can deny ever promising that he wouldn't.

    If politicians want to reassure the public, they've got lips to reassure them. But as George Bush found, reading lips can be awful dangerous.



    Subject: Real debate
    Sent: 12.57pm

    The Tories said Tony Blair protested too much about the media's agenda. After all, they say, it was Labour that had a news conference on Europe yesterday. Gordon Brown gave a speech on the subject, and Tony Blair has got another tomorrow.

    Subject: I'm off out
    Sent: 1.10pm

    Having been cocooned in the Westminster mad house, I'm off on the trail of the "real" election. The people of one city in Britain may not know it yet, but they are about to have all three main party leaders pass through their streets. (Sadly I'm not permitted to tell you where it is - but as soon as I am, I will.)


    2pm
    ITS BRISTOL - IF UR IN THE ANTI PARTY PARTY, LINK UR HANDS ROUND THE CITY + DONT LET THEM OUT!



    Subject: Beware children
    Sent: 2.57pm


    You know the old cliche about not performing with children or animals? Well Charles Kennedy should have remembered that this morning . He had the ideal photo opportunity for promoting his education policies. Sat on a school bench next to young Tom he asked him what his favourite school subject was. When the reply came "History, and in particular the Second World War", Kennedy asked Tom for his verdict on Churchill. Tom's memorable reply was "He should have bombed Germany more."

    Kennedy's quiz show appearances paid off when he responded by saying: "There are plenty of people it seems who still believe that."



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