Dan Hodges has christened it the ‘Seal Team‘ this lunchtime; a unit set up to sort out Labour’s media management and attack. Labour’s rebuttal and attack, as Hodge’s reports, currently run by party spinners Simon Jackson and Tom Hamilton. It will now be beefed up by Michael Dugher and Jon Ashworth, another former Brownite. They will be joined by Peter Mandelson’s godson Joe Carberry, who worked for Jim Murphy before Monday’s Blairite purge. According to Hodges this team will work closely with Miliband’s new deputy comms chief Paddy Hennessy.
As regular readers will recall, back when he was Sunday Telegraph political editor, Hennessy’s byline was on some of the more poisonous snippets briefed by Damian McBride about, in particular Charles Clarke. Hennessy and McBride are old drinking buddies, and he is even name-checked as ‘a friend for life’ in his book. Though Guido was sad not to see Hennessy at McBride’s book launch last night. Given this friendship, Hennessy’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in April 2012 makes for an interesting read:
“Politicians, their advisers, departmental civil servants and political panics [sic] will always seek to “manage” the press, The extent they are able to influence journalists depends largely on the robustness of the journalist involved. Both politicians and journalists should guard against their professionalism being compromised by mixing the professional and the person.
Any personal interaction, other than by telephone or email contact, I have with them wilt take the form of “typical” business entertaining lunches, dinners, meeting over coffee, or a drink after work. I would not consider this entertaining to be in any way lavish.
Some critics lazily argue that journalists can develop too “cosy” a relationship with politicians, Any self-respecting, professional political journalist should always guard against this happening. Any evidence of this happening would risk inviting ridicule by their colleagues, and could damage the credibility of publications. I have always acted professionally.”
And he was on oath!