The worst political soundbite of the week

Welcome to the first and quite possibly last in a new and therefore also probably soon to be axed series: the worst political soundbite of the week. (Not to be confused with the worst political phrase ever.)

Paris is a city generally held in high esteem in Britain: it’s a popular holiday destination, it’s got great food, it’s got the Eiffel Tower, a Doctor Who story was filmed there, it has public transport that seems cheap and spacious compared with our own capital’s underground and so on. All in all, helped of course by the usual grass is greener on the other side factor, Paris gets a pretty good press in Britain.

Eiffel TowerSo what phrase have Labour deployed this week to attack the government this week?

Warning that the government is hell bent on turning London into Paris.

Hmm.

(The context, in case you’ve missed it, was housing but the point about the soundbite is that in much media coverage that’s all the impact you get; you don’t get to also say “They’re turning London into Paris the swines! Well, not the good bits of Paris like the public transport because we’ve already part-privatised them or making our food better or replacing Centre Point with the Eiffel Tower or improving the weather or importing any of those many things you really love about Paris. No, none of that at all. So really please wipe from your mind all the many positive things you think about Paris and then listen to me again. Thanks.”)

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12 Comments

  • LibDemKitty 29th Oct '10 - 1:27pm

    My thoughts exactly when I heard that…

  • Dominic Curran 29th Oct '10 - 1:46pm

    I know what you mean, Mark, I have jokingly made the same comment. But i think you also really know what that statement means. it is, as Chris Mills says, about turning London into two cities – the wealthy in the middle and the poor in the suburbs (to a much greater degree than exists even now), rendering invalid any medium-term hopes of mixed communities (which i think we all aspire to).

  • @Dominic I don’t think Mark was commenting on the meaning or intention, he was just saying that this particular soundbite spectacularly failed to get across the point that was intended when it was said. Which I entirely agree with.

  • weather? the weather is generally exactly the same in Paris and London.
    transport is only cheap if you stay intra-muros, which is to say like staying in zone 1 of London.. and then it’s just quicker to walk anyway.

    But then as a French (not from Paris) living in London for 13 years, I know where I’d rather be: where I am right now 🙂

    There’s little chance of London turning into Paris in regards to housing from the HB reforms, in fact the opposite proposals might make it more likely.
    There’s 2 main reasons for the segregation of the suburbs there:
    the mass building of social housing in a much denser city to start with (where can you build on a large scale but further out?) and the draconian laws that protect tenants so much they make landlords incredibly weary of letting (so they require wages many times your rent, a guarantor and several months deposit and advance rent) meaning getting a flat is akin to have job interviews.
    If I was in the same situation in Paris than I am in England (temp job and no family to act as guarantor), I’d be homeless because I would not find anyone willing to let me.

  • The same speech about housing benefit also contained the most effective soundbite of the week.

    On Tuesday in parliament, Chris Bryant said the the poor were being “sociologically cleansed out of London.”

    This gained traction, as it was followed-up two days later by Boris Johnson who spoke of “Kosovo-style social cleansing” of poorer people from London.

  • Backfire soundbite of the week must go to Obama, who, through an unfortunate pause, suggested his “Yes, we can” had been updated to, “Yes, we can, but…”

  • London is an increasingly overcrowded, congested, ugly place with high crime levels, terrible public transport and a lack of on-street parking, which is why those who can afford it and don’t have to go to the office every weekday live in Tarrant Monkton and Chipping Camden if they possibly can. Who wants noise, sardine-tin trains and stranger fear, given the choice?

    The main reason for the astronomically high property prices in London is the Green Belt, which makes it very dififuclt o increase the supply. Relaxing the Green Belt would be politically impossible and environmentally and culturally disastrous. Though, having said that, there is plenty of vacant Green Belt land with zero amenity value in South Essex and North Kent that would not be missed if covered in concrete. We may have to start doing just that.

  • >also contained the most effective soundbite of the week.

    No, that was the most tasteless and offensive soundbite of the week.

  • Seems Harriet Harman saw your post and decided she’d have a run at beating it :-/
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-11658228

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