Monday, May 20, 2013

Hunt Fires SpAd After Just Six Months

Guido understands that Jeremy Hunt has given his SpAd Sam Talbot-Rice, who only joined him in October 2012, the  heave-ho. Movements were afoot on Friday and now an Ed Jones is being drafted in to fill the gap. Guido believes he is a financial PR with a non-health background.

Sue Beeby will be on maternity leave again soon, but Guido is assured there will not be a return for Adam Smith…

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Craig Insists on SpAd Radio Silence

Star guest at this morning’s 10:00 meeting for Tory special advisers at CCHQ was Lynton Crosby. It opened with a warning from party chairman Grant Shapps that they would be “fired by the Prime Minister” if any SpAd was caught leaking the details of the meeting. At which point poor old Craig Oliver – who has been at the sharp end of plenty of leaks and briefings recently – turned around and gave each of them an individual “death stare”That worked well…

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jon Ashworth: the Self-Loathing SpAd

Labour MP Jon Ashworth is all right on over at the Staggers today:

“When David Miliband announced his resignation as MP for South Shields, there was some suspicion that another so-called ‘London special advisor’ would be parachuted into this supposed rock solid northern Labour bastion. Ed Miliband’s One Nation Labour has genuinely made an effort to widen the pool of figures joining the PLP…”

Yes, shame on all these “London special advisers” parachuted into northern seats. Well said that man. That man being a former “London special adviser” (No.10 Deputy Political Secretary) “parachuted into the supposed rock solid northern Labour bastion” of Leicester for the 2011 by-election. Spun like a true Brown SpAd.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bad SpAd Memory

Labour peer George Foulkes’ FOI revelation that Clegg has 15 SpAds beggars belief when you look at his media management this week. The eagle-eyed among Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidates never miss a chance to bash the Deputy PM, however. Step forward Redcar hopeful Anna Turley:

Anna seems to have forgotten that she herself was a SpAd not once, but twice. Not just any SpAd either, but a super important one. She specialised in “social exclusion” while working for Hilary Armstrong, and child poverty and equality under David Blunkett. Guido wonders how many community groups her wage could have gone to support…

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Toby Helm’s Twitter Spat With Gove SpAds

Huge handbags on Twitter this week between the Observer’s Toby Helm and the CCHQ @ToryEducation Twitter account. The Tory tweeter told Helm “You’re like Baldwin and Campbell – an activist, not a professional hack”, provoking paroxysms of rage from the Labour Party press office’s favourite broadsheet channel. Particularly after they called Helm a Labour stooge. This will apparently spill over into the paper this weekend when The Observer is going to allege that it is part of a scandalous McBride/Draper style dirty tricks operation. Guido understands that Helm reckons it could bring down Michael Gove…

Judge the robust exchange for yourself:

It is unclear to Guido whether or not the account is run officially or unofficially from CCHQ or by Gove’s SpAds, or what the exact rules about this would be. As is so often the way with Twitter, exchanges are strongly worded. SpAds are supposed to operate within civil service limitations.  A strongly worded written letter of admonishment to a SpAd from the permanent secretary may result. Not exactly enough to bring down the Secretary of State…

UPDATE: Looks like Toby has been down the bookies:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Patrick Rock – Dave’s Quiet Bat Person

Another direct hit for Downing Street snapper Steve Back of Political Pictures. You will remember his handiwork involving Oliver Letwin, government papers and a park bin. His photos have let the Telegraph put a nice spanner into the Coalition Review, with Cameron’s fixer Patrick Rock getting snapped flashing embarrassing documents showing just how stage managed the whole relaunch is. The news getting out that “problematic areas” will lead to “unfavourable copy” for “broken pledges” is an unusual public cock up for the most powerful Cameron adviser most people have never heard of…

Rock and Dave go back to the Home Office under the progressive days of Michael Howard. The story goes that on the day John Smith died they went drinking in the Two Chairmen, where they “both agreed that Blair coming meant that we [Conservatives] would be f**ked.” Guido understands that Rock was behind the vetoing of  former Policy Exchange Director Neil O’Brien joining the No.10 team, resulting in O’Brien going to No.11 to work for Osborne instead. Rock has been working under the public radar in Downing Street since spring 2011 and after this nightmare, he will likely keep an even lower profile… 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SpAd Put Through the Mill-er

Accusations from the Tories that the Telegraph coordinated their Maria Miller expenses story to coincide with the gay marriage announcement yesterday went down very badly over at Buckingham Palace Road. Still smarting, they have thrown the ‘rules’ out of the window and published rather embarrassing communications between Miller’s people and the paper in the run up to the story coming out:

“The Telegraph has decided to disclose details of the private conversations amid widespread concern about the potential dangers of politicians being given a role in overseeing the regulation of the press. When a reporter approached Mrs Miller’s office last Thursday, her special adviser, Joanna Hindley, pointed out that the Editor of The Telegraph was involved in meetings with the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary over implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson.

“Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about,” said Miss Hindley. Miss Hindley also said the reporter should discuss the issue with “people a little higher up your organisation”.”

Not the best way to try to fight a negative story and particularly chilling in light of the fact Ofcom answers to the Culture Secretary – the exact chain of command that would control Leveson’s state backed press regulator. Eyebrows were raised about levels of experience after the Adam Smith mess at Culture when Miller hired Hindley back in September. She had been at Prince Charles’ Foundation as head of comms after a relatively junior role in the CCHQ press office. A pretty awkward situation…

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tory Minister Complained About Thea


The BBC’s Nick Robinson said he was taken by complete surprise when he learnt that his producer had been poached by the Chancellor George Osborne to beef up his dismal telly image. She was, Guido noted at the time, seen drinking with the Treasury team into the early hours at Tory party conference. Many Tories were rather surprised given that Thea Rogers worked for Labour in 2005.

Things might be a bit tense if Thea has to deal with Transport Minister Mike Penning, he once put in an official complaint about Rogers and former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell. The row even made it into Tory press releases

See also: Craig Oliver’s Late Night Lobby Briefing

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More Than Windmills Spinning at DECC

Troubled times at the department for windmills and other omni-shambles. Guido hears that the hunt is on for a new Special Advisor for the DECC – a suspected nark for No.10 to keep an eye on Greg Barker and John Hayes. Despite his high-Toryism, Hayes is felt to be “wandering off reservation”. Ed Llewellyn is said to be particularly unhappy with the larger than life Minister after telling the Prime Minister that he “wouldn’t hear a peep” from Hayes just hours before last week’s wind-farm mess. Meanwhile one source says that “Barker’s lost in all this green deal crud”.

The LibDem SpAds – Chris Nicolson and Kate Waring – are said to not like the idea of a spy one little bit, and Guido understands they have kicked up a mighty fuss. What was that pre-election promise about cutting the number of advisers? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New SpAd Appointments

Final Special Adviser appointments have been confirmed:

  • Health – Sam Talbot Rice.
  • BIS (for Fallon) – James Wild.
  • Justice – Will Gallagher
  • Home extra SpAd –  Stephen Parkinson.
  • Culture – Joanna Hindley
The full list is available here.

Seen Elsewhere

Why Pollsters Could Be Wrong | John McDermott
Cameron Faces Vote of No Confidence or Rebellion | FT
Cameron Faces Revolt Over ‘Vow’ | Sun
It’s Time to Speak for England | John Redwood
It Was Me Who Taped Howard Flight | John Woodcock
Indy Editor: We Will Stay Afloat | Press Gazette
English Don’t Want Scotland to Stay at Any Price | Dan Hodges
England Must Have Self-Government Too | Mark Wallace
Next Year’s Election Will Be the Dirtiest Ever | Speccie
Chicken Salmond Runs Away From Sun Cabbie | Sun
Scary No Messages Don’t Add Up | Sun


VOTER-RECALL
Find out more about PLMR


Gyles Brandreth writes in his memoirs:

“Sunday, May 10, 1998

Early start: appearing on Breakfast With Frost, to be broadcast from 11 Downing Street. The Chancellor [Gordon Brown] is grouchily amiable, but so earnest — and still biting his fingernails to the quick.

After the show, he took us upstairs to his flat. He lives above No 10, while Blair and family are in the No 11 duplex, which is bigger and more like a proper house.

I was intrigued that, when he took us into his bedroom, the Chancellor rather ostentatiously opened the built-in wardrobes, as if he wanted us to see the women’s frocks that were hanging in there.

They looked quite large, but I don’t think they belong to Gordon. I assume they belong to his girlfriend [Sarah Macaulay, who he later married].

I presume he was keen for us to know that he has one — and that she’s not a ‘beard’. I don’t think he does anything without calculation.”



The British media are Hunts says:

Now the SNP know how UKIP voters feel all the time.


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