There’s an old maxim in journalism: ‘Dog Bites Man’ is not a story; it’s when a man bites the dog it becomes a story. I.e. you write about the unexpected not the stuff that will make people yawn.
I say this because the story: ‘Cameron thinks immigration should be limited’ is a Dog Bites Man story. It would be more surprising if the Pope declared that Christianity was the best religion ever.
So, I have three related points to make on this:
One: it once again demonstrates that the Prime Minister is able to drive the media agenda and national discussion in a way opposition parties simply cannot. This is why I keep telling people (who are used to hearing Labour everywhere) that Labourites are speaking out against the cuts, it’s just that the media isn’t listening.
Two: I initially thought that Vince Cable speaking out was a sign that discipline was breaking down in the Coalition. But Sarah Hayward is completely right – it’s all a set-up. A cynical ploy but one that is effective, keeps the story going, keeps members in both parties happy and completely tactical.
Hell, if you’re going to play the immigration card to deflect attention from the NHS, why not go the whole hog and pick a deliberate fight with your allies? Labour is far too clever to be provoked into a trap that Cameron is trying to set for them. So Cable was the natural choice.
Three: The predictable response is to point out the intellectual inconsistencies in what Cameron is saying. Mehdi Hasan was doing it last night on Twitter; the Guardian mention cuts to ESOL classes; Nishma has blogged about it.
These responses are a big waste of time because the Tories aren’t having a debate – they’re just saying things they’ve always said. I’m more interested in why the media is reporting on a ‘dog bites man’ story. There are no surprising policy announcements here.
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Filed in: British Identity,Race politics