Roger Whittaker

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Election: prediction of terrorism scare

Monday 11th April 2005

Matthew Norman's Media Diary in the Independent today has an interesting and amusing prediction:

With three-and-a-bit weeks to go, now seems the time to pose this vital question: when Mr Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and the gang decide to unleash the flammed-up terrorism scare, where will they place it? Those who saw last week's Newsnight item featuring the American focus groupie Frank Luntz will have been struck by one finding. Mr Luntz went to marginal Milton Keynes to ask floaters for their thoughts, and the issue on which they gave the PM his best score was decisiveness in the face of a security crisis. Doubtless Labour's internal polling shows the same thing, which strongly suggests that a little judicious scaremongering is on the cards. A message from Bin Laden along the lines of his US intervention would certainly help, but Ossie can hardly be relied upon to ride to the rescue. And while sending the tanks to Heathrow for no apparent reason would have visual impact, it lacks a certain freshness. What's needed, then, is a front-page splash calculated to allow an ashen Mr Blair to remind us that, while the intelligence is "non-specific", we live in the face of "a unique threat to our way of life", and that he alone can be trusted to preserve it. But where to plant this potentially fruitful tree? The Times and The Observer are close allies, but at times of electoral emergency No 10 would look for maximum impact, which means a tabloid. The Mirror, recent home to a moving hand-written note from the PM, seems an obvious choice, but that paper already nestles snugly in his pocket. So the smart money is on The Sun, which is suffering an unaccustomed bout of indecision as to whom to support. A world exclusive carrying the by line of Trevor Kavanagh, and the headline: "PM: Don't Panic, Don't Panic ... But Without Me You're Dooooomed!", packed with dark if nebulous hints at an imminent atrocity would shepherd credulous voters back into the fold. We look forward to reading it.