Bethell Pops Up at PoliticsHome

James Bethell, the former Portland PR spinner, left Policy Exchange after less than three months, flouncing out after failing to get the top job when Neil O’Brien became the think-tank’s director.

Former Google PR Amy Fisher replaced Bethell in December as Policy Exchange’s director of communications. Previous to Google she was a CCHQ press officer.

He has now joined PoliticsHome as director. The site has become a useful utility for a lot of people in politics and the media. Bethell is going to try and commercialise the loss-making site, a tough task at a time when rival ePolitix.com is cutting back.

Matthew Taylor is Ruining the RSA

A few months back Guido was invited to speak on a panel at the Royal Society of Arts. The enthusiastic American staffer on the phone was more than a little taken aback when told that Guido wasn’t interested.

Expanding further on the subject (it was after lunch), Guido told her that essentially Matthew Taylor was ruining a great institution by turning it into just another left-of-centre think-tank – sort of like Demos with a better designed Adam Brothers HQ building.

Matthew has subsequently been a bit defensive with Guido, pointing to the fact that they invited George Osborne to speak and venture capitalist Luke Johnson is the incoming new chairman. Good. Luke is good at kicking ass and Matthew Taylor needs his ass well and truly kicked.

The RSA has a fabulous history of achievements in public life, it was founded as the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce. Past members have included Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, William Hogarth, Charles Dickens and Guglielmo Marconi. It was founded to “embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufactures and extend our commerce”.

Now Matthew Taylor is turning it into a Blairite third-way think tank “to remove the barriers to social progress”. Well we have enough of those think-tanks already. He spends his days indulgently expounding on the “new progressivism” like some self-appointed high-priest of the chattering classes. Taylor seems to forget he is no longer the “Downing Street Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to Tony Blair” but the CEO of the RSA off the Strand. No wonder the number of paying RSA Fellows is dropping.

Obama’s Online Guru : "I Don’t Think We Could Win the Re-election for Brown"

So says Blue State Digital’s Thomas Gensemer in The Times today. His firm helped Obama raise $300 million online. If anyone can do it, he can. Yet, with Brown in front, he thinks it is mission impossible. Labour are trying to fight back, but so far their only online campaign that has escaped from the politico-geek ghetto is John Prescott’s campaign against banker’s bonuses. That broke out of the few hundreds and made it into the tens of thousands signalling their support.
Putting aside the comedic value of Derek Draper, Labour’s efforts are undermined by the rivalries, whereas the Tories have one successful community site, Labour has four or five not very successful attempts to match ConservativeHome. They also don’t seem to have realistic expectations.

What is the point of Alastair Campbell’s videos? Nobody watches them:

Compare the number of views Campbell got to the two videos produced in the same week mocking Derek Draper and LabourList. Tens of thousands of views versus a couple of hundred views for Alastair’s efforts. Alistair got lots of press coverage for his efforts – even though hardly anyone actually watched them – because he understands how to manipulate the Dead Tree Press. The anti-Labour video guerillas understood what would play well on the web: humour.*

Prescott is doing a far better job of reaching out using authenticity, humour and his own celebrity. He has real box-office appeal and is better advised. Draper has, like Campbell, not really got a feel for online.

The coming general election is going to be fought online more than ever before. Labour are going to lose that fight badly if they don’t learn fast.

*The various Gordon Brown nose-picking videos have been watched three-quarters of a million times on YouTube. By far the most watched YouTube videos of any British politician.

Osborne : Brown is a "Walter Mitty"

Osborne has once again come close to saying what many in Westminster think – the PM is at the very least delusional, if not bonkers.

The FT reports Gordon’s fantasy that the tripartite regulatory system worked and is being copied around the world. Osborne clearly could not bite his lip, retorting that Gordon is “still living in his Walter Mitty world where his system of banking regulation didn’t fail, where boom-and-bust had been abolished and where Britain is best placed to withstand the recession”.

Just say it straight : Brown is Bonkers.

Prayers for His Holiness

This morning the Fawkes household said prayers for the safety of His Holiness, for the citizens of the Eternal City and for the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. For today the one-eyed, ill begotten son of the manse goes to Rome to meet the Pope. The Catholic Church has survived for two millenniums, it has battled with Satan and his works and it will, with the blessing of God, endure the curse of Jonah Brown.

Incidentally, yesterday on the day that Obama authorised funding for international abortion groups, the Pope called on politicans to defend the unborn. It is the custom of the Holy See to deny visiting Catholic politicians a photo-opportunity if they do not take the orthodox Catholic line. As a non-believer who supports abortion it is probable that Gordon will get his publicity shot.

Jonah Brown Curses Ericsson, Wishes Jade Well

Guido forgot to mention in his story on Monday (Jonah Brown Mini-Curse) that the Prime Mentalist had also visited workers at the Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson’s new research and development plant at Ansty Park, Coventry. Inevitably Guido reads today that Ericsson is cutting 5,000 jobs.

At his monthly press conference this morning he sent best wishes to Jade Goody. As if she isn’t suffering enough.

UPDATE 21:00 : This just in: Angry drivers are urging Mini to recall almost a quarter of a million cars following a spate of sudden power steering failures“. Guido thinks he knows the cause.

Standards Commissioner Asks Jacqui to Explain Herself

Paul Waugh has the scoop – John Lyon has finally written to Jacqui Smith asking her to explain her £116,000 fiddle.

She is going with the “it was all approved” line. Guido very much doubts she told the Fees Office she was going to spend most nights of the year with her family rather than at the “main home” (actually her sister’s spare bedroom).

On the basis of the Trend ruling, where the Tory MP in parallel circumstances had to pay back £90,000 and the precedent established ironically by Mr & Mrs Balls, she has a prima facie case to answer. (The Balls’ argued successfully that in the recess and school holidays they spent the majority of the time away from London at their constitutency home, therefore on the basis that they spend more nights there, that was their main home). The Standards Committee needs to take a hard look into the evidence of where she spent most nights.

UPDATE : Isn’t there a huge conflict of interest here? The best independent source of evidence for where Jacqui spent her nights will be the records of the police protection unit. Who oversees the police?

Kawcznyski Irony

Daniel Kawczynski, the tallest MP in the house, who handed over a constituent’s letter to the police without a warrant, is blaming one of his interns for what happened with the police. His wife is pushing him to fire the intern.

Ironically he is asking them to sign a confidentiality agreement first before he fires them, preventing them from giving out any personal information about constituents. Bit late now…

UPDATE : He is looking for a new intern as of last week.

Today on DraperList

Guido will keep today’s update short:

The National Organisation of Labour Students’ Philip Honour, a campaigner and listed contributor to Draperlist, wrote on Dolly’s Wikipedia entry that “A rumor that Derek has been asked to handover control of Labourlist by

[…]

+ READ MORE +

LibDem Surpise Speaker is Liberal Democrat Howard Dean

Ed Davey is very chuffed at having secured the attendance of Howard Dean at the LibDems Spring Conference in a fortnight. Dean will be advising them on his experiences of online campaigning and, errrm, losing. Still at least he made

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Ciao Fella! David Mills Gets 4 1/2 Years Jail Time

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ IPSOS/Mori : 20% Point Lead +++

Tories +4% to 48%
Labour -2 to 28%
Lib Dems 17%.

The Prime Mentalist’s personal ratings plummet: Two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with Gordon Brown.

UPDATE :

From the small print of the poll:

  • The public’s opinion of how David

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Rod Liddle:

“Family of 12 from Luton – including a baby and two grandparents who are suffering from diabetes and cancer – feared to have joined ISIS… yay – result! That’s saved us all quite a few bob, no? Carry on like this and we might clear the national debt.”

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