IDENTIKIT press releases from the Downing Street press office under Prime Minister David Cameron’s byline were sent to a number of regional newspapers extolling the virtues of the local countryside on the same day he was engaged in talks about the migrant crisis.
Only the county names and local landmarks were changed to keep the article ‘topical’.
The comments from Cameron were apparently intended to be used as a personal column but the Yorkshire Post called the PM’s bluff after its newsdesk received a phone call from a Number 10 aide press pitching a “very personal” piece on English Tourism Week.
The Post called the media operation “insincere – some would say a sham” coming as it did after a period of devastating flooding in the county and refused the column after seeing similarly worded articles from Cameron appear in The Herald, Plymouth, The Newcastle Chronicle, the Lincolnshire Echo and the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk.
VOICE OF THE NORTH is pleased to present what we are assured is the “genuine article”.
FORGET LANZAROTE, IT’S GODZONE I LOVE
by Prime Minister DAVID CAMERON
I LOVE Godzone. From my favourite boozer, the Red Lion in Milfield, to Foulis’ chippie in Wooler (where Samantha and I enjoyed our first deep-fried Scotch pie and mushy peas) this corner of north Northumberland is one of the many jewels in Great Britain’s crown.
Little wonder its Heavy Horse Festival and the Etal Flower Show attract more than one million visits by international tourists every year [Dept. of Spin please check].
I’ve even been there myself: I once took a train from King’s Cross which passed rather quickly over the Border Bridge (without stopping at Berwick) on my way to Edinburgh for a meeting with the Scottish Tory Party. And wasn’t the Scottish Tory Party pleased to see me!
“Now there are TWO of us to canvass for tartan Conservatism,” he laughed. Ho-ho, only joking!
English Tourism Week this year coincides with my own ‘staycation’ call to British people everywhere to shun beaches on the costas, Cap d’Antibes and Corfu (leave them to the illegals, I say!) and spend the summer celebrating every sunny moment on the wonderful, flood-hit reaches that our own neglected north country has to offer.
Let me give you one shocking fact: for all the money that is spent by international tourists in our country, half is spent in London. Millions of visitors who come to Britain never leave the M25 and so never get to experience places like the Newcastle Quayside when the half-dressed dolly birds are on the raz or Leeds Infirmary’s A&E triage ward when the pubs are chucking out.
Okey-dokey, so part of this is due to my friend the Chancellor’s father-in-law, Lord Howell, who said recently that fracking was fine in the North East because the region that fed post-Industrial Revolution Britain with coal and steel and ships boasted only “large, uninhabited and desolate areas”.
Like my friend the last Conservative MP in Scotland, he was joking. And once the media had pointed out the error of my former Environment Secretary’s knowledge of the northern byways His Lordship quickly made clear that he was actually talking about was the ‘unloved’ North West. After all, pretty well no one visits Blackpool, Morecambe Bay or the Lake District, do they?
Tourism is important to you all in Godzone. It creates jobs: thousands of East Europeans have been busy replying to all the Situations Vacant ads in Polish newspapers offering low-paid work on your farms, in your supermarkets and restaurants and even as the DSS fraud checkers our recently-resigned Work and Pensions Secretary was once so keen on employing.
That’s why we brought in a whole new approach, set out in my Five Point Plan for tourism. We have already taken some important steps, like making the visa process easier for everyone who is not in need. We are investing in infrastructure – improving our roads and railways – to make it easier for tourists to travel as far north as Watford (and even Birmingham, if they can afford the fare).
We have increased spending on our international campaign to shout about Britain. Called WAIT!, it takes brand Britain to the furthest corners of the world, urging people to think twice before leaving genocide and starvation behind and seeking safety in this Mother of All Democracies.
And, because of our long-term economic plan to fix our economy, we’ve been able to fund infrastructure and events that support tourism in every region. Take the Berwick-Wooler bus service, for example. There are now four buses a day in each direction. Don’t thank me; transport is important.
Some things had to give in order to subsidise those four buses, of course. Your Labour-led county council has chosen to close some libraries while turning others into tourist information centres and to shut public toilets that are not specifically provided for tourists (MUST look after those tourists). On the plus side, councils have been urged to cease all grass mowing to allow the creation of a Great Northern Wilderness for the tourists. My Cotswolds gardener calls it ‘meadow planting’.
Finally a word to the whingers about funding: my government might well have cut your county funding by £160million since 2009. There may well be further cuts of £44million due this year and next (I can’t be sure: I leave that side of things to young Osborne, Senior Prefect of the Remove).
But to those who complain, think of all the projects your government is undertaking to make the whole country a better place: the London Crossrail project at a cost of £14.8bn is a fitting follow-on to the £9bn London Olympics spend and the new London Gateway ‘super port’ in the Thames Estuary, not to mention the £18bn we plan to spend on the London Heathrow expansion.
And, don’t forget, Godzone has had its share. It has only taken a little over three years to repair the collapsed B6344 into Rothbury, a perfect ‘staycation’ location we Camerons were considering until our ‘Remain in Europe’ Lanzarote villa was identified as a more pressing cause for which to campaign. Such a shame!
Nonetheless, our mission is to make citizens and visitors alike use our own beaches and visit our country houses (and what remains of our museums and art galleries) before young Osborne’s mania for budget cuts and his Bullingdon Club buddy Boris’s ability to bully billions for his crackpot capital transport plans mean that we’ll all be forced to live in a cash corridor that stretches from Chelsea to Chipping Camden!
It’s good for Them, the tourists; and it’s good for Us, the Conservatives.
And it’s another step towards a greater Godzone.