Lobby Hacks: Never Go to Debbie Abrahams With a Story

Frustrated Lobby hacks have been sharing horror stories of their dealings with the press operations of the Shadow Cabinet. It’s a tough gig being a Labour spinner at the moment – Keir Starmer seems to be on an eight hour time lapse and Diane Abbott’s migraines must prevent her from signing off press releases. The most amusing gripe is Paul Waugh’s complaint about an unnamed Shadow Cabinet minister, who he this week gave an idea for a question to the Commons Library, only to see them place the answer with a rival publication.

“Friday arrives. I ring aide. No answer. I text. Radio silence. An hour and 15 mins later I get an email saying sorry they missed my call. The email then says: “When we got the library figures back this afternoon there were some quite shocking figures…” But then I read the next sentence. “On this basis, we thought it best to go with [a rival media organisation] on the story, who wanted it as an exclusive.” My response was unprintable. Safe to say it involved the F-word. I’ve worked in Commons for 19 yrs (which is more than 10 yrs longer than this Shad Cab minister and a lot longer than the aide). And never have I been so appalled at such a duplicitous, discourteous and plain counter-productive media tactic.”

Who could this duplicitous Shadow Cabinet minister be? If you Google “cuts“, “Commons library figures” and “Labour” there is only one news story from the last week: this Guardian report about benefits cuts. It contains a quote from the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams. She has been in the Commons for six years, which fits the clues in Waugh’s timeline. Lobby hacks beware: never go to Debbie Abrahams with a story, she’ll sell you down the river…




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