The - clearly shitting bricks - Labour Party floated another 'Get Cameron' strategy this week. After the craptacular 'Dave the Chameleon' campaign died on its arse - it turned out that the public, and Cameron himself, quite like the computer-generated lizard who wears hats, rides a bike and changes colour - Labour's finest minds decided enough was enough: Time for gloves off and knuckle-dusters on.
What's the new idea that will demonstrate only a mother could love the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition? Depicting the Tory leader, according to the Sunday Times, as a 'floppy-haired estate agent', that's what.
'Middle England hates estate agents and you can just see Cameron as one,' said an unnamed Labour 'senior insider'. 'He's posh, floppy-haired, flash and full of chat. He's willing to say anything to make the sale, but nowhere to be seen when the roof falls in.' Which is a bit rich coming from a party whose leader went to Fettes then Oxford, has a ridiculous, thinning and teased bouffant, and will volubly argue black is white. And, in the case of Iraq, having made the sale, is nowhere to be seen now that the roof has not so much fallen in as been blown to splinters by a 500 pound bunker buster. But we'll let all that slide just this once.
It's actually quite a good analogy. Labour just need to thrash it to its limits like a teenager in a Vauxhall Nova. The Friday Thing's dirty tricks department, having lost its sense of purpose since the departure of Michael 'Fucking' Howard, has sprung into action to ride this mother into the ground. Estate agent, right? Selling a house, yeah? Labour imagineers, if you're reading, you can have this for free...
The house Cameron's trying to sell is the one where that creepy old woman used to live. Remember her? She used to hector passers-by with 'do this' and 'do that'. She'd steal children's milk money and shout the most horrid things at her French and working class neighbours. Eventually an all-pervading sense of hopelessness settled on the whole neighbourhood.
She went in the end, when she could no longer look after herself. After the neglectful tenancies of a series of ineffectual bald gentlemen, Dave's agency took over the running of the gothic monstrosity. He's given it a lick of paint and says he's cleaned the moss out of the gutters, the dead wood from the garden and the bats out of the belfry. He really, *really* wants you to buy the house but, but here's the snag: He won't let you look inside. He's quite worryingly adamant about it, in fact.
The place looks fantastic from the outside and for all we know, on the inside, it could be all sanded floorboards, magnolia walls and DIY SOS kitchen. But without being allowed to step over the threshold and have a nosey round you can't shake the nagging feeling that it might still be all cobwebs and damp walls and leaking pipes - uncompromisingly cold, unforgivingly harsh fixtures and an outside lavvy. With old newspapers for toilet paper...
Cameron's had an easy ride from everybody despite having no policies to speak of and, given the massive number of bulls' arses presented by Labour of late, stubbornly refusing to pick up his banjo and give them a good whack. What does he have in the credit column in policy terms? Off the tops of our heads we can only remember his Churchillian assaults on chocolate oranges ('Why does WH Smith's promote half-price Chocolate Oranges at its checkouts instead of real oranges?') and dodgy children's underwear ('It's not just a bit of fun. It's harmful and it's a bit creepy'), him having his photo taken with a husky on a glacier and his - we'll admit, rather thoughtful - speech on youth crime ridiculed in the press as a call to cuddle knife-wielding drug-addicts because he couldn't stop banging on irrelevantly about their clothes.
Bras. Hoodies. What next? Telling pensioners their lives would be improved immeasurably if only they took their cardies off in the summer? How about the recent apology for privatising the railways? Yeah, nice gesture. Makes our shitty, third-world train system so much more tolerable, don't you think? Leaving the EPP? What the hell is the EPP and how far is it up your list of priorities?
Blair, on winning the Labour leadership in 1994, immediately seized on the issue of law and order, successfully depicted the Tories as soft on crime and rode to power on the subsequent wave of public fear and loathing, leaving us where we are today - frightened and untrusting of society at large. As maggot-ridden and indigestible as the meat in that sandwich was, we'll give him some credit and say at least it had more substance than the cucumber-with-the-crusts-off dainties that Cameron has seen fit to dish up so far.
The thing is, there's plenty of real world dog muck in which to roll him without inventing comedy personas. He used to work in Public Relations for God's sake. Most people would rather be John Prescott's proctologist than sink so low. Of Cameron and his time in the private sector, business journalist Jeff Randall said: 'In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair.'
Trying to portray Cameron as some kind of upper-class spiv is classic New Labour misdirection. Don't worry about being sold a war in which tens of thousands have been killed, they're saying to voters (or 'Ah, I might have known, we're talking again about the situation in Iraq' as Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said on the radio the other morning like a dinner party guest tired of talking about politics), worry about a fantasy sequence in which David Cameron tries to sell you a house.
When you think about it a bit more though, you have to wonder just how much loathing for Cameron the estate agent insult might evoke. The estate agent vote's knackered for a start. Also, thanks to years of rocketing house prices and low public sector pay, there's a generation of people out there who, unable to afford their own home, have never even met estate agents let alone had the ulcer-inducing opportunity to foster a healthy hatred for them. In that game played on company teambuilding days where everybody has to pretend they're on a life-raft with dwindling food and water supplies and argue for their survival, the person playing the estate agent is nowadays probably sitting pretty long after the politician, the tabloid editor and Noel Edmonds have been thrown overboard.
Still, Labour's best and brightest shouldn't be too downhearted as they see their latest expensively-produced playground insult inevitably riddled with more fire than Sonny in 'The Godfather'. There's more where that came from though, surely. How about likening Cameron to Raffles, the gentleman thief, as created by EW Hornburg, perhaps? (Money quote: 'We can't all be moralists, and the distribution of wealth is all wrong anyway'). He also comes with the added bonus of being a cricketing spin bowler when not pulling off daring burglaries. ('He'll pinch your cash and he's all spin!' the electioneering billboards would shout.)
With Labour heading south in the polls though, it's probably not long before things get really nasty. Expect 'Posh Dave, the braying, posh, coke-snorting Hooray Henry posho toff' to be unveiled in desperation during the 2009 general election campaign.
(We're available on a consultancy basis, by the way.)