When Mr Clarke yesterday called a manifesto promise and a firm policy pledge an “aspiration” the BBC and Labour went into overdrive. Here they hoped was manna from heaven. Here they drooled was a major Tory tax war, here they salivated was proof that Clarke was taking over as Shadow Chancellor, here was an opportunity to portray the Tory party badly. My phone kept ringing as programmes promised me cameras wherever I was if only I would denounce either Clarke or George Osborne, or would say something to turn a wrongly chosen word into a major row.
I explained to them with growing irritation that nothing had changed in Conservative policy. Mr Osborne is Shadow Chancellor and he had made the position quite clear in 2007. Mr Clarke should have said it was a promise, not just an aspiration, and would say so shortly.
The fact that the BBC thought this single misplaced word to describe a well established policy was a leading news item tells us a great deal about how the BBC runs its news services. In the meantime they cancelled the offer of an outing on the Today programnme for me to explain a better way of tackling broken banks this morning, despite the Sunday Express article setting it all out again and other media interest. I was offered a slot and probably a radio car to make it easy if I would build their non story about Tory tax wars. That was an easy one to call!