Thursday, February 16, 2006

Too little, too late

As the high-octane furore of the "Cartoons War" winds down, only now does EU commission president stick his head above the parapet, finally to make a statement.

So far down the line is he that few media sources have bothered to report it, one being the International Herald Tribune, which tells us that Barroso has declared that Europe now had to fight for its core European values, including freedom of speech. "We have to stick very much to these values," he says. "If not, we are accepting fear in this society."

Had the man issued his statement last week, it might have had an impact but, with media interest decaying faster than the half-life rubidium-82, it has thudded out with all the dynamism of a lead balloon.

At least, however, El Presidente has made a statement, which is more than can be said of the Boy King who is now grabbing the headlines with his new sprog. But the public memory is long, and his inability – or unwillingness – to take a stand will not be forgotten.

Interestingly, both the Conservative Party and the Commission have one thing, at least, in common – their members commonly complain about the poor press they receive yet, in this "Cartoon Wars" they have both made the mistake of failing to stand up and be counted when it mattered.

And, while the Commission is darting off to create another communications strategy, so too are the Conservatives having, according to The Times despatched one of their number to the United States to study "how to adapt the aggressive internet campaign tactics used by US Republicans" in the last presidential election.

They could have saved their money. Any successful blogger will tell you that to get the hits, you need to get in first, you need to be controversial and you must have passion. The problem for the Conservatives and the commission, however, is that they fail on all three counts. Looking to exploit new media or create new strategies is not going to improve things.

Instead, they are doomed to replicate the Barroso experience, coming in with too little, too late.

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