Guido just got back from the British Museum for the Tories “Eight Benchmarks for Britain” speech. Half the shad cab and Dave trundled out to another new and exciting speech location. Presumably these random venues are envisaged by Steve Hilton to make them look cool. The Lobby didn’t look too impressed at having to leave the safe confines of Westminster this early in an election campaign.
Osborne’s “New Economic Model” made a lot of the right noises and he was on much better form than he has been in the last couple of weeks. Osborne urged the public to judge the success of a Tory government on whether Britain’s credit rating is dropped on their watch. A brave gamble, especially if Britain is shown to have re-entered recession in April on the eve of the election. Clearly fired up by yet another mauling from Mandy yesterday Osborne was quick on the attack. In retaliation Mandelson has just accused him of plagiarism of his own speech from last month. This little battle is set to get very nasty again very quickly.
Guido could only see Nick Robinson’s bald spot but he imagines he was rather red-cheeked when Boy George stuck the boot in with a pithy put down. Robinson stated that £1.5 billion in cuts wasn’t very much, to which Osborne responded “Well obviously I know the BBC salaries are huge, but a billion pounds is still quite a lot of money.” The naughty kids at the back made sure a stifled laugh from the audience turned into a round of applause.
As ever with the Tories at the moment the problem lay within the detail. In the entire twenty-four page document, packed full of statistics about how rubbish the legacy they will inherit is, there is no detail, or crucially any facts about how the Tories will fix things. Two months before an election, if you are going to summon great audiences and the nations media, you need to be providing them with more than a promise to give “every household an entitlement of up to £6,500 worth of energy efficiency investments.” The other development was that Stelios is backing the Tories economic plans. Will union baron Tony Woodley be tearing up his e-tickets like he did with The Sun?