Tories get excited about ‘air superiority’ against Labour

2:37 pm - April 7th 2010

by Sunder Katwala    

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I’m struggling to see any sense at all in some over-excited Tory Boys at campaign HQ boasting to The Times about establishing “air superiority” in the campaign over Labour.

“We’ve got more executive jets than you” is their rather testosterone-fuelled boast, contrasting their fancy campaign toys with Gordon Brown’s plan to let the train mostly take the strain.

David Cameron’s campaign will exploit “air superiority” over Gordon Brown, as the Tories use their cash advantage to leave Labour grounded … With Labour compelled to make a virtue out of the necessity imposed by their relative poverty, the Conservatives said the party had not leased a single aircraft but had booked a number of different ones … It will be Mr Cameron’s use of executive jets that is likely to become a symbol of the campaigns’ contrasting styles, however.

Firstly, I am sure their candidate Rory Stewart would caution the Tories that you can’t win a war from 20,000 feet; still less a General Election. Despite the Tories’ reticience to roll back Labour’s popular top rate tax hike, they have probably got a fair share of the executive jet owning classes.

Secondly, it brings back questions about political funding. If William Hague hadn’t flown in Michael Ashcroft’s private jet quite so often, he might have asked him some slightly more searching questions about his tax status.

The Tory response to that is that Cameron isn’t using Ashcroft’s private plan: he’s had lots of friends rich and willing enough to lend him their planes or pay for his flights, giving him many more people to whom he will of course be in no way beholden.

Since becoming Leader of the Opposition in December 2005, he has drawn on the support of 19 wealthy donors who have funded more than 160 helicopter and aircraft journeys, according to his entries in the Register of MPs’ Interests … Those who have funded flights include a steel magnate, a financier, a hedge-fund manager, a philanthropist and a Premier League football director.

And, anyway, David Cameron has now got bags of cash donated to him too so he can pay for the campaign planes at commercial rates. Still, the Angry Middle won’t like it. Perhaps boasting about the planes intended as an appeal to aspiration.

Thirdly, the huskies won’t like it either. So the Tories are at pains to stress that they will be carbon offsetting the excessive flying. Expect environmental groups and LibDems to also point out why believing that taking as many flights as you possibly can and then believing that off-setting is always the answer suggests a very pale shade of green.

To date, he has clocked up about 25,000 miles. The shortest flight was an eight-mile helicopter ride from Bury to Manchester in April 2008, a journey that is ten miles by road.

But perhaps that two finger salute to the greens is aimed at the Jeremy Clarkson vote and the Tories’ climate-change denying base. A tricky balancing act, to be sure.

Instead of laughing at Gordon Brown for mainly letting the train take the strain, perhaps David Cameron would do better to join him.

A longer version is at Next Left

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About the author
Sunder Katwala is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is the director of British Future, a think-tank addressing identity and integration, migration and opportunity. He was formerly secretary-general of the Fabian Society.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Humour ,Westminster

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Reader comments

1. Luis Enrique

I’m sure y’all knew this yonks ago, but: Rory Stewart a Tory? Blimey.

Wasn’t WW2 won in large part from 20,000 feet?

3. Shatterface

I saw Cameron riding his bike sans helmet this morning.

Naughty boy.

If the Tories give me a private plane I will vote for them.

Are (push)bike helmets complusory now?

1 – yup, he’s candidate for Penrith and the Borders. Quite a catch really…

“air superiority” – isn’t the haggard language from an old war film just pathetic – and just typical?

@2, you may find the conclusions of the US Strategic Bombing Survey instructive.

If the tories can’t win this election with a landslide then they should pack up and sell ice cream.

WE have had a huge slump, we have a Prime Minister who is not liked even by many of his own party, a constant war, against terror or something , the tories have most of the media supporting them, and they have huge amounts of cash to out spend Labour.

10. Matt Munro

Can’t beleive I’m typing this but I agree with Sally.

I think what will happen is a hung parliament, 6 months of Lib/Lab bickering and then a narrow tory win in the autumn.

11. Golden Gordon

Wasn’t WW2 won in large part from 20,000 feet?
So was the Spanish Civil war ?
Also alot of civilians died on the way

12. Golden Gordon

Well whatto davo, I can quite understand your banter.
Rich industrlialists as the Heinkels
Massive press support as the Stukas
Then loyalist paras floating into the blogosphere (i.e. ccjjc, matt and the boys at HP).

Who are these morons at CCHQ who think that elections are won or lost on the basis of how many planes your mates have lent you?

I’d prefer it if we concentrated on something like, oh, I don’t know, POLICIES?!

Of course taking the train means that Gordon will probably end up not putting in as many public appearances….just as well for Labour I guess…

Cameron talks…and talks….and talks…and talks..and says absolutely nothing because he doesn’t want us to know what we’re in for should he win.

It’s quite possible he could continue with his vacuous speeches about ‘TIME FOR A CHANGE’ right up to election day when ,soon after,be given the keys to number ten,then we’ll find out what his plans are. and if the few policies we know about are an indication, it will be to form a government with a HARD RIGHT WING agenda. For more comment see Jeremy Smyles’ blog;

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour

  2. patrick hill

    RT @libcon: Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour

  3. sunny hundal

    'Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour' – wasn't Cameron supposed to be green?

  4. kay

    RT @HouseOfTwitsLab: RT @libcon Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour

  5. joey coco

    @pickledpolitics 'Tories get excited about 'air superiority' – wasn't Cam s'posed 2b green?<that was 2007. Do keep up.

  6. Ben Griffiths

    I wonder will Cameron be cycling his bike for the cameras while his private jet follows behind?

  7. Sunder Katwala

    RT @houseoftwits: RT @libcon Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour

  8. Justin Baidoo

    RT @pickledpolitics: 'Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour' – wasn't Cameron supposed to be green?

  9. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour

  10. Soho Politico

    RT @libcon Tories get excited about ‘air superiority’ against Labour

  11. Clare Cochrane

    proof they're not green – the Tories don't care about CO2 emissions! RT @libcon Tories excited about 'air superiority'

  12. topsy_top20k_en

    Tories get excited about 'air superiority' against Labour

  13. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: Tories get excited about ‘air superiority’ against Labour

  14. Out of touch, in their pockets and eager to please « Left Outside

    […] From Sunder as reported on Liberal Conspiracy. [A Top Tory MP] added: “The marriage tax breaks will be symbolic in many ways in the first […]

  15. Left Outside

    @hannahnicklin Uh-huh! The Tories are even willie waving about it!

  16. hannahnicklin

    @cutewhensedated not *right now*, but throught the campaign

  17. hannahnicklin

    OK everyone, I know they're not flying *right now*, ash filled air an all, but throughout the campaign so far:

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