Peter Hoskin

There’s a serious message behind the Tory April Fools’ campaign

There's a serious message behind the Tory April Fools' campaign
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Most press releases don't really catch the eye.  But when one hits your inbox from The Department of Government Waste, you can't help but take notice.  In it, the Secretary of State for Government Waste, Robin Ewe (geddit?), celebrates 13 years of "waste-maximisation," and there are links to a departmental website, complete with reports and videos.

No surprises that it's a Tory campaign.  And to up the fun quotient, CHHQ have even managed to plug it via a cheeky advert in the Guardian.  But although there's a comic tinge to it all, and although it's rather straightforward, this is still a smart message for the Tories to get out there.  It implicitly makes the point, whether you agree with it or not, that certain spending can be cut this year – because not all spending is good spending.  And it supports George Osborne's efficiency-driven national insurance cuts.

In fact, this little web campaign could be one of the Tories' most emphatic departures from the "more spending = good" orthodoxy of the Brown years.  It does, after all, lampoon a Department of Government Waste whose "strategic objective has been to maximise expenditure and minimise frugality."  In its own way, that's as strong as anything in David Cameron's excellent speech in Wales a few weeks ago.

Sure, all this may not sit quite right alongside the Tories' own ringfencing plans.  But, nonetheless, there are signs this week that Cameron & Co. are feeling considerably more confident in their own skins.