The generous view is that everyone makes mistakes, and that the media gets far too excited about slips of the tongue made by politicians. This is sometimes good fun for the press, but has not helped genuine political dialogue and debate. Politicians these days rarely speak off the cuff. They cling to their brief like a comfort blanket, their tongues anchored to the party line by the possibility of the words boob and blunder in next day's papers.
The less generous view is that Mr Clarke's mistake betrays a general ignorance - common to this Government - of the recent social history of Britain. The Consett closure was an early cause clbre of the Thatcher administration, and nobody north of Doncaster would have confused it with Redcar. The only reason the rest of the country has heard of Consett since is because of the factory, located in the town's Medomsley Road, that makes Phileas Fogg snacks. This may explain the Chancellor's mistake. The power of advertising and an appetite for crisps have engraved the word Consett on his heart, as Calais was engraved on Queen Mary's.Reuse content