Things have come to a pretty pass when you can't rely on parliamentary researchers to bunk off properly. I mean, I'm fairly sure iPlayer works on Welsh Assembly computers, which means the Labour Party have no excuse for not realising that the viewing public would have access to all three versions of their Queen's Speech PPB and would thus be able to play a little bit of spot the difference.
The master template is, I suppose, inevitable; images of a fast-paced global economy interspersed with near-subliminal flashes of one B.H. Obama and lots of statesmanlike shots of yon Scunner Broon. But even the template is susceptible to change; while “Britain” and Wales enjoy a fade over a clip of the Bank Of England, Scotland gets a Saltire in front of a moodily sunlit tenement.
Scotland's slogan is also different; while Labour is Standing Up For “Britain” and Llafur is Standing Up For Wales, Labarach (and let the record show I had to dig that up from the Scots Gaelic version of Wikipedia, as neither Scottish Labour nor any of their parliamentarians appear to have bothered to have a Gaelic website) merely offer A Fairer Scotland, lazy buggers.
Speaking of inevitability, it's Wabbroon, live and direct from, well, the caption says UN Headquarters, but if that's any room in a building completed in 1950 I'm a monkey's uncle. Mind you, describing it as a Webcameron rip-off is the charitable interpretation; crueller voices might suggest that they're doing the whole thing on the cheap, what with the credit crunch and the corrupt party finances (not necessarily in that order...)
More statesmanlikeness, then a strange difference; while the “British” version lingers on a shot of Brown networking in a posh hotel room, the Scottish and Welsh versions cut back to the Wabbroon monologue. A few moments later, Scotland and Wales zoom in on a somewhat less subliminal Obama moment, while “Britain” jump cuts to the close up after a brief shot of a Brown/Darling press conference.
For a moment, I'm wondering if this is just a function of the production process, that a final version was sent to the Celts to add their own bits, only for the Anglo-Saxons to do some fiddling of their own. Then a third shared visual appears, and it's the strangest of the lot; while “Britain” gets a few seconds of the London Stock Exchange, Scotland and Wales see their umpteenth busy shopping street pass by, except this one is very clearly identifiable because Buchanan Street Station on the Glasgow Subway is very obviously slap bang in the middle of it.
Do we now have Wales receiving Scotland's leftovers from the editing suite? No, it turns out that we have an extra section that only appears in the “British” version. Over more images of stock tickers and the Docklands, Brown's monologue gains this;
"There are those like the Conservatives who want to let the recession run its course. They are wrong. Failure to act in the past has increased both the length and depth of recessions."
Now excuse me while I geek; a Midland Mainline Class 222 Meridian sweeps through the countryside, then we cut to Gordon and Sarah (surprised it took over a minute to get her in there) inside a Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino... [/geek]
Then the sort of difference that actually really angers me. In “Britain”, the caption proudly proclaims that we're seeing Gordon touring the Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich; the Scots and Welsh are not so informed. Note ye that there are precisely zero car assembly lines in Scotland and Wales; do Labour really think we're stupid enough not to notice that a factory must logically be in “Britain” if we're not told that it is?
And lo, the opt-out arrives, signalled by another train image, this time a Virgin Trains Class 221 Super Voyager at Sandwell and Dudley station. I'm almost willing to let them have that one; since there's no type of train operated by any company that could pass through any station on the way to both Scotland and Wales, I'll take them at least picking a train travelling on a route that could lead to either.
The opt-outs themselves raise an important technical question because what we get are the Murphy Boys talking to camera. This isn't a particularly smart political move; after all, I'm actively interested in Welsh politics and even I couldn't give a flying **** what Paul Murphy does, so the chances of anyone less prepared for it caring are fairly remote. If it's a matter of the legislation requiring only parliamentarians appear in a parliamentary broadcast, fair enough, but in that case why did the SNP broadcast appear on Thursday in Scotland instead of the Conservative one? It must be on the basis of their position in the Scottish Parliament, because if it was based on their Westminster representation, the Thursday broadcast in Wales would have been the Lib Dem one...
And then we have three monologues instead of one, albeit with a little bit of cross-referencing. In “Britain”, Brown blathers on, listing just about everything any government might be called upon to do and suggesting it might be an idea that they do it well, bookended extraordinarily by a brief bit of walk-and-talk that almost looked human until he decided that he only had one hand gesture and by gum he was sticking to it.
In Scotland, Jim Murphy might as well have “The SNP Are Nutters” tattooed to his forehead and once he's got through his platitudes on employment, Iain Gray appears (adding more mystery to my point about the Murphy Boys) to push specific policies on apprenticeships and schools PFIs. Iain tries the walk-and-talk too, but is criminally let down by a less mobile camera that exposes his rather unusual gait.
As for Wales, it's the well-worn line about two Labour governments, in Westminster and Butetown, working together. Setting aside the evidence that this is bollocks (if it were true we wouldn't be having rows about the 27 Ways To Ditch An LCO) it also strikes me as pretty poor politics. Looking ahead to 2011, even if they don't want to think it'll happen, Llafur must recognise that they might need to play the anti-Tory duopoly card; trumpeting the advantages of the partnership now makes that card all the harder to play. Equally, talking about the government as if it's yours and yours alone can only help Plaid's clear One Wales strategy of denying all knowledge of being involved in it. Then again, that analysis presumes that Llafur can find their butts with both hands and it's not as if we have a great deal of evidence of that being the case...