Dianne Abbott’s interview on the wireless this morning was hilarious. I had better explain in case you missed it.
Diane Abbott is the shadow Home Secretary. She was invited on to LBC, a London wireless programme, to explain her party’s commitment to increasing the police by 10,000. The burning question was this: how would a Labour government pay for all those bobbies
The interviewer started by asking Ms Abbott what the bill would be. She said it would be £300,000, meaning that the extra policemen (and women as she kept stressing) would be paid the princely annual salary of £30. The interviewer thought that a bit mean. He asked her if she really meant it. She ummed and erred, and then came up with another figure. The cost would be £80,000,000. That, as the interviewer pointed out, meant that the new officers would have an annual salary of £8,000. Was that all they were going to be paid? Had the policy been thought out properly? She insisted it had been. There would be 250,000 more police in the first year of a Labour government. The interviewer was beginning to find all this a little difficult to follow. 10,000 extra policemen had suddenly become 250,000 extra policemen. “And women,” said Ms Abbott. Then she changed her mind and came up with 2,000 or maybe 2,250. 250,000, she said, was a figure given by the interviewer, not her. Take my word for it, it was all very funny.
But spokesmen for major political parties, especially during election campaigns, are not meant to be clowns. I know you will say I am a dreadful killjoy, but I do, honestly, think it very bad that the main opposition party thinks there is nothing wrong with entrusting the explanation of major policies to jokers.
I think this is the first general election of my lifetime in which one of the two main parties has given up before the fight starts. I’m not convinced that is healthy.