Osborne & Clegg fight to bury PMQs

It’s lovely to see true friends looking out for each other. The last person in the country to recognise that The Big Society is a complete load of rubbish was surrounded by friends yesterday. David Cameron probably had no idea of what a difficult PMQs he was facing, but his mates knew full well. George and Nick went out of their way to protect him.
It was Dave’s humiliation that they were worried about. They knew Ed Miliband was going to slaughter the Big Society and that PMQs would lead the evening news. All they had to do was create enough news stories and Dave’s humiliation would be buried under a busy schedule.
There’s nothing the News likes better than a fresh instalment to an existing narrative. That’s why “Banker’s Bonuses” is such a big story. It’s been running and running and is very popular. So even though Project Merlin is a waste of time, it’s virtually guaranteed top slot on the news schedule. To deflect from Dave’s humiliation, George released Project Merlin.
But of course, this was not enough. There would still be enough room in the schedule for another political story, and the Big Society is a running story in itself. They needed another big running story and the person who could deliver it was Nick.
In an echo to Tony Blair’s self-flagellation over Iraq, Nick could do a “Face the Students” presser, exclusive to the BBC. That would be such a great story: Conflict, anger and the deputy Prime Minister taking the flack. You might think it was asking a lot of Nick Clegg to put himself through this, but you don’t know Nick. For him it was a chance to prove his loyalty to Dave.
It all went so well. The BBC completely ignored PMQs. Everyone completely ignored it, but then Channel 4, curse the, started doing one of their fact-checkers on what Dave had said about money for Sure Start centres. They needed another diversion. Luckily they had one. That loony lord who hangs about with dodgy Vince Cable: Lord Oakeshott had been blowing his mouth off again.
They forced his resignation and made that the rolling story. They gave it to Channel 4 first, to put them off Sure Start. Then all the news channels were running with the question of whether he resigned or was he forced out. It was so easy.
What we saw yesterday was some of the most desperate media manipulation that the Tory-led coalition have ever engaged in. They were successful. Getting rid of that loony lord made them look strong and united. Bashing the banks made them look strong and united. The humiliation of Dave at the hands of the Labour Leader was easily buried, by blasting the media with all barrels.
But what it also reveals, for those who were watching closely, is that the Government machine is collapsing around them. That their policies are falling like nine-pins. That their backbenchers are agitated, and that they can’t keep the media out of it forever.
They engaged in a humongous effort for just one day of news domination. If they manage to get their government on a sound footing, then maybe they won’t have to repeat that effort again. But far more likely is that today was typical of what we’ve got coming and they cannot sustain this media manipulation indefinitely.
If Nick Clegg met the students again, it would be well down the schedule. George doesn’t have many more Project Merlins up his sleeve. What we saw yesterday was the entire arsenal being blasted at the media.
However much of ammo they have left is unknown, but it ain’t gonna be enough to save them. On this day, the vast majority of the British public were completely oblivious to how shaky this government has become. But soon they’ll know, because for Dave, Nick and George, it ain’t gonna get no better.

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