When PR men want to sell journalists a line, their favourite opening gambit is gross sycophancy. “Hey, I lurve your work,” they smarm. “It’s great to meet ya, you’ve been doing wonderful stuff.” Reporters know they are lying. We suspect they have never read a damn word we have written. But we remain in danger of being flattered by their shameless eagerness to please into turning off our bullshit detectors.
Never forget the only job David Cameron had outside politics was as a PR man buttering-up contacts on behalf of the TV station Carlton, whose disappearance raised the quality of British television overnight. “In my experience, he never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative,” said the Telegraph’s veteran business reporter Jeff Randall, who dealt with him regularly. “I wouldn’t trust him with my daughter’s pocket money.”
Under Cameron the Foreign Office has become the marketing department of Great Britain Inc. He has decided that Simon Fraser, permanent secretary at the Department for Business, should be the next head of the diplomatic service and run it on commercial lines. He envisages a future when corporate hotshots and CBI bureaucrats can become Her Britannic Majesty’s ambassadors to far-flung lands the better to cut deals with the natives. Labour’s ethical dimension to foreign policy, such as it was, is history. Cameron tours the world not as statesman or democratic leader but as Britain’s head of PR, whose job is to suck up to potential customers until they buy a nuclear reactor or Hawk jet. If alert listeners catch a direct falsehood in his sales patter, aides are on hand to explain that he “misspoke” or was misunderstood.
Carry on reading