I was astounded to see Alastair Campbell, the master of spin and presentation, appearing to have great difficulty with Andrew Marr's questioning this morning (BBC iPlayer here, from about 18:00, interesting bit from around 20:00). Now Andrew Marr is not normally an attack dog of the Right - usually his questions to Government ministers are probing enough to be credible, but punches are generally soft and are pulled before any killer blows are landed. Think of his failure to follow through when he asked Gordon Brown about his medication. But he really seemed to catch Campbell out this morning, and Campbell seemed close to tears.
Or did he?
Curiously, there are reports that Gordon Brown will also cry during an interview with Piers Morgan next weekend (source). That should be like a slow-motion car crash, for sure.
Am I being too cynical, or is this just the latest Labour ploy to try and rescue something from the gloom of the next election? They have tried appearing competent, but that has comprehensively unravelled over the last 12 months. They have tried scurrilous attacks on the enemy, but those have generally come back and bit them on the arse. Now they appear to be going for the sympathy vote. "Look, chaps, we know we have cocked things up on the economy and left our grandchildren with trillions of debt, we know we took the country into an illegal war on the basis of lies and deception at the behest of a foreign power, and we know that Britain is less safe, less free and less well-educated that at any time in recent history. But really, we are all human and we have our weaknesses, and we don't want you to hit us too hard when you get the chance. Please be kind to us - we are now the underdogs, you know."
I used to know a boy at Primary school. He was a bully, and would hit girls and smaller boys if he got the chance and teacher wasn't looking. If a bigger boy threatened him, he would dissolve into tears, and no-one had the heart to punch his lights out as he so richly deserved.
It worked at Arthur Pease Junior (Mixed) and Infants.
Labour hope it will work for them too.
And they wonder why people are cynical about politics.