Here’s what Lucy Powell really said about Labour’s ‘Edstone’

You can bet this misrepresentation will be in every newspaper tomorrow

 

The Telegraph has picked up the line given by Conservative party HQ to suggest Lucy Powell, vice-chair of Labour’s election campaign, said Ed Miliband might break his election pledges despite having carved them into limestone. (Yes, this is a strange election.) The paper’s headline on its rolling election coverage reads:

“Ed Miliband could break ‘set in stone’ pledges, Labour campaign chief admits”

This is the line being spread by the Tory party after Ms Powell’s interview on BBC Radio 5:

 So what did Lucy Powell actually say? Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of the interview: (You can listen to it here)

Q: […] and then the Labour party say, we’re going to put it on a lump of stone. We’re literally going to carve it into a piece of limestone, our pledges. I mean, come on. It’s more like Monty Python politics all that.

Powell: No not at all. You have to find interesting ways to get across what it is you’re trying to say.

Q: Come on, you know. Carving it into stone.

Powell: The point we’re trying to make there is that Ed Miliband, who’s been really clear about this throughout the campaign, he stands by his pledges and his promises. He’s a man of principle –

Q: It’s the same as saying you’re going to make a policy. Either we believe politicians or we don’t, you know. If we do, then fine, we vote for them. If we don’t, the fact that they say I’m gonna carve it in stone, I’m gonna pass a law –

Powell: I don’t think anyone’s suggesting the fact that he’s carved them into stone means that he is absolutely not going to break them or anything like that.

Q: Was it a good idea to say that?

Powell: Yes! He’s highlighting a point that he’s been saying throughout this campaign, it was just another way of highlighting that. Which is that he’s a guy of principle, of decency, a guy who is tough and he is going to deliver on his promises he set out, unlike some of this opponents.”

As you can see, the context makes clear that Ms Powell was replying to a question about the act of carving these pledges in stone. She replies by saying that carving them into stone in itself doesn’t magically ensure the pledges won’t be broken. It’s merely a way (a bizarre way, admittedly) to demonstrate Labour’s commitment to keep its promises.

The fact that the questioner does not jump on her remark as a ‘gotcha’ suggests he didn’t misunderstand her in the way the Tories have misinterpreted her. She also says quite explicitly that Labour will keep its ‘pledges and promises’.

Even so, it’s a sure thing this quote will be in all the papers tomorrow – and in Tory party speeches – without the context, but with the misrepresentation.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

 

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14 Responses to “Here’s what Lucy Powell really said about Labour’s ‘Edstone’”

  1. CharleyFarleyFive

    Nice try but no one’s buying it, including I suspect, the author.

  2. Chrisso

    Sorry. It was a poor response and looks bad. Surprised.

  3. Recce

    I understand exactly where she’s coming from. The whole thing with the rock is NOT binding but Ed will still keep his promises.

    It’s pointless symbolism. I was hoping that the Leader of the Labour party would spend his time on something better than pointless symbolism. But it seems that I was wrong. Once again I feel that I’m being talked down to. We don’t need things carved into stone. We need to be told HOW you intend to provide “a strong economic foundation” and HOW we are going to have “homes to buy”.

    Don’t give me craved rocks. Don’t give me photo ops of Ed eating bacon sandwiches. Don’t give me an “interview” with Ed putting on an accent while sitting with a 40ish lothario wearing tight jean. Treat the electorate with a bit of respect.

  4. upyourbollix

    don’t even bother trying to rescue that. if she’d have caught herself at the time and corrected what she said, then there would have at least have been something to go back at the quote-hungry right-wingers with

  5. Selohesra

    Its (probably) not her fault – blame the gimp who thought up the silly gimmick in the first place

  6. Jim Bennett

    Not your finest article, Adam.

  7. Anthony

    What Camoron should do at his next public appearance is pull out a replica slab from his pocket, so he can give that overused Treasury note a rest. The Tories and their media cronies will do anything out of desperation and deliberately distort a radio discussion by taking it out of context.

  8. AlanGiles

    No one, you know, using a few glottal stops, to make us sound ordinary, would think like, you know Ms. Powell is the sharpest knife in the box, despite you know, how she rates herself so highly.

    The Edstone was one of the most crass stunts of this or any other campaign

  9. AlanGiles

    No one, you know, using a few glottal stops, to make us sound ordinary, would think like, you know Ms. Powell is the sharpest knife in the box, despite you know, how she rates herself so highly.

    The Edstone was one of the most crass stunts of this or any other campaign

  10. AlanGiles

    I agree. This has been a pitiful campaign, pitifully conducted by all parties (I will vote Green trying to shut Ms. Bennett’s screetching voice from my mind). What has really annoyed me with Labour is that ageing tranny Eddie Izzard, (would-be London Mayor once his fading showbiz “career” hits the buffers) done up like a cross between the Headmistress of St. Trinians and early Quentin Crisp.

    The pictures of him in bright red lippy with the rictus grin of Jim Murphy in Scotland on Monday looked, frankly, as if two loonies had been given afternoon leave from the asylum

  11. sarntcrip

    doh silly moo could have phrased it better

  12. rptrpt.rpt

    what is going to happen to this 38.000 lump of rock. will it have the name miliband going all the way through it?

  13. Recce

    What do you do with the tombstone to your career? He could make a hell of a rockery with it, if only he had a large enough garden

  14. Newf2002

    Sorry, I don’t have any ax to grind here, but (i) the whole carved in stone idea was brain dead; and (ii) please look at what she said “I don’t think anyone’s suggesting the fact that he’s carved them into stone means that he is absolutely not going to break them or anything like that.” That clearly implies that he might break them, even though they have been carved in stone. If you can’t see that, then that may explains Labour’s failure in the election. Please move on, this is unedifying (pardon the pun)

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