Sunday, January 09, 2011

Get The Basics Right

The absolute howler made this morning by Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson, who failed to be able to name the rate of employers NI contributions, for me is an absolute clanger and will end up ranking alongside Clegg's misfire over the value of the state pension for political error making.

You can watch the clip here (4 minutes in!)

When politicians take up their jobs, be it as a Minister, Shadow Minister or even just an MP there are always basics you need covering. I think it was Tony Blair who was always kept up to date with the story lines on Eastenders and Corrie should anybody ask. A very senior Conservative once told me he was always briefed on the price of milk or a gallon of petrol (and the like) before doing a political interview; being caught out on stuff like that makes you loo out-of-touch. Today made Johnson look economically illiterate.

I had my own "version" of this at the General Election. One resident asked me to direct him from his house to Strangers Hall by foot as my test of local knowledge. He wouldn't vote for anybody who couldn't do it. I got it right, including the short cuts because you were walking rather than driving. I still wonder if the others did and who he voted for? Radio Norwich did a similar quiz about the constituency, including naming the destinations of various bus routes, where various shops are and local events; I got them all correct and then fell down on naming the singers in Girls Aloud ...


Comrade said...

There is the story of a hustings in Truro many years ago - an elderly farmer asked for the panels views on the fall in wheat prices - the Tory and Labour candidates both said how terrible it was for the local area and they would take up the issue if elected. Liberal David Penhaligon said he didn't know, would look into the issue and get back to the farmer. The farmer told him not to bother he had decided to vote Liberal - when asked why he replied "we don't grow wheat round here"

Antony said...

Very good one!! When I first stood for Bowthorpe, waaaayyyy back, a man from Clover Hill asked me what the longest river in Africa was as a test of my intelligence. I got it wrong and he slammed the door in my face and always assumed he voted against me. I later found out he was a former Conservative Association big-wig who had gotten very grumpy in his retirement and, in turns out, always voted blue anyway despite my lack of African geography. However I used the question to test the other 3 Bowthorpe Tory Councillors ... and only one of them got it right so I felt better!