i Editor's Letter: What do we make of the latest government U-turn?


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The Independent Online


I once knew both the Saatchi brothers, just a little. As a young reporter, through them I first came across a technique with which I have since become familiar. They, like many in their wake, made things happen partly by putting them ‘out there’. Ideas or notions became reality by being enunciated enough times.

For this to work, it must be backed up with resource, ability and conviction. Plus, there’s the rare ability to carry ‘people’ with you. We all know ‘leaders’ who can talk the talk, but precious few can also walk the walk. Which brings me to David Cameron.

The PM was once a PR. He is eloquent, quick-witted and, yes, charming. I was going to write ‘slick’, but that’s just a cliched term for people in marketing. He currently looks anything but.

What are we to make of this latest U-turn on minimum alcohol pricing, particularly in light of all the others? Perhaps he believes that by putting policies out there, he can make them happen? This is so much harder to do so in a Coalition, tougher still when many in your own party are against you. He resembles my ‘nonna’ throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks. The PM  feels like a marketer using the media as ‘facilitator’ for a giant focus group (the public) in an attempt to come up with products (policies) that might nudge up his market share (votes). The flaw is that the best marketers (Coca-Cola, P & G) operate with absolute conviction. Even when  they don’t, they don’t let us know. For a marketing man who was outstandingly sure-footed in obtaining power, he is proving surprisingly unsure of himself now that he has it.