No. 10’s ‘Sexist Of The Year’ Spin

Today’s Sunday Times features a tidal wave of allegations about sexism and inappropriate behaviour in Westminster, including licking the faces of researchers, groping, sending “dick pics”, warnings over the use of prostitutes, and having “noisy sex” in parliamentary offices. Can anyone be sure these claims are levelled at separate MPs?

One story certain to begin another Lobby hunt is that a “sexist of the year” award was handed out in No. 10. Despite Angela Rayner penning yet another letter to Boris asking about the allegations, the claim has been removed from The Times’ online story, as sources close to the event in question were quick to point out when questioned. So what’s going on?

Various sources point to the claim being both correct… and incorrect. Incorrect insofar as an award specifically called ‘sexist of the year’ was not handed out. We know an award ceremony happened in December 2021, with Jack Doyle addressing up to 50 people at the party. Guido understands while there may not have been an award specifically called “sexist of the year“, a tongue-in-cheek award along similar lines was handed out. It seems the story doing the round can’t make its mind up between ‘gender equality champion’, or ‘feminist of the year’. Guido won’t give away the in-joke behind the award – it’s pretty inoffensive and doesn’t deserve to damn the recipient.

Another source says the claim of Downing Street awards was not limited to that one Christmas party, with weekly plaudits handed out for things like ‘best rebuttal’. These awards included a ‘teeny tiny cup’ given to the team that had worked hardest or performed best that week. It’ll be difficult for any hack to get a scalp over the story – both the host and awardee have since moved on…

mdi-timer 1 May 2022 @ 18:06 1 May 2022 @ 18:06 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Jack Doyle Resigns as No.10 Director of Communications

A Downing Street spokesperson just now:

“Jack Doyle has left government. He has made a huge contribution and the Prime Minister is immensely grateful for the work he has done.”

mdi-timer 3 February 2022 @ 18:13 3 Feb 2022 @ 18:13 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Whose Head Will Roll Over Downing Street Parties?

Downing Street’s Christmas party problem continues to ramp up, not least now it’s become more prominent in the public’s consciousness that there were multiple parties during the November and December lockdowns. Public anger is boiling and a senior head will have to roll. Who was responsible for the events?

There are three alleged drinks sessions contested during lockdown in Downing Street:

Boris reportedly said a few words at Lee Cain’s leaving event on November 13, if that event was accompanied by a few bottles of Downing Street claret it is arguably a leaving party. Incidentally, Boris was pinged and went into self-isolation on November 16… 

Cleo Watson’s leaving drinks was on November 27, reportedly Boris came in and made a speech, mentioning how crowded it was in the room before leaving shortly afterwards. This doesn’t sound like an event compliant with the rules.

If, as the BBC reports, the December party was for the press team, it would have to have been authorised, or at least not vetoed, by then-director of communications James Slack. Since he has departed to The Sun it makes it more difficult for No. 10 to blame him for subsequently assuring the PM that no rules were broken. If, however, current director of communications Jack Doyle was at the party, and has been briefing it didn’t happen, that would make life very difficult for him. It was Max Blain, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson, who briefed the Lobby on Monday that there was no party.

Despite being the poster girl for this story, Allegra Stratton was not in charge of the Downing Street press operation at the time of these events, according to the leaked video she did not stay for the party in question and certainly is not responsible for briefing the PM or the Lobby about the nature or (non)-existence of the party this week. Ultimately the PM must take responsibility for his advisors and their actions. Boris’s errors at PMQs today, not least denying Lee Cain’s leaving do was a party on November 13 and being bounced by Starmer into agreeing to hand over any evidence to the Metropolitan Police and the CPS, has compounded his difficulties.  The Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is to head an internal inquiry, though currently Downing Street can’t confirm or deny if he attended the party. Allegra resigning over a party for which she wasn’t responsible might not be the end of this…

N.B. This was written before Allegra Stratton resigned.

mdi-timer 8 December 2021 @ 15:42 8 Dec 2021 @ 15:42 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Cancelling Televised Briefings Doesn’t Benefit Voters

A certain smugness prevails in the Lobby today that they have kiboshed the £2.6 million plan to bring Downing Street’s briefings into the twenty-first century. Forget all the spin: the reality is that it isn’t in the interests of hacks to open up the Lobby system or insist more often that quotes are on the public record. Intermediating allows them to more easily introduce their opinions into their news reports. Televised transparency would have devalued their role because information scarcity makes their possession of a spokesman’s phone number so much more valuable. Opening up the system of briefings in real time wasn’t in inky hacks’ interests…

To be fair, there was some reluctance also on the part of the communications professionals in Downing Street to risk the change; the newly-promoted Jack Doyle is a newspaperman, and like his predecessor James Slack, he was never that keen on televising the briefings. Alex Wickham this morning quotes an unnamed government official as saying “that regular televised press briefings were a ‘bad idea’ from the previous No. 10 regime of which ‘no good could come’” because whenever the government was having a difficult day, social media would have been a sea of gotcha clips. On the other hand, Allegra Stratton (an experienced broadcaster) believed it could be made to work better than the current system does now. A good spokesperson could get the message to voters over the heads of hacks with their own agenda. It would also have the benefit of allowing voters to see how the political news sausage is made, which did not show the hacks in a good light during the daily covid briefings.

Last year Downing Street told Guido: “For too long we’ve been running an analogue system in a digital age. People want to hear directly what the government is doing and to see it being held to account…”. Doyle on the other hand is keen to definitively end Downing Street’s war with the Lobby, so a full surrender on the analogue front will buy him some goodwill. It won’t last. Hacks will be able to spin the off-camera answers such that they don’t precisely reflect the actual answer given.

The situation now is that unlike in Washington, or even Brussels, the transparent interrogation of the executive by the media is done behind closed doors and off camera. This suits the inky-fingered hacks of the dead tree press, who are well-aware that they would be further downgraded if an unmediated livestream of the day’s questioning were available to voters.  They’ll now be able to go on as gatekeepers setting the political news agenda, unseen by voters…

mdi-timer 21 April 2021 @ 13:30 21 Apr 2021 @ 13:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Jack Doyle is Downing Street’s New Head of Spin

Jack Doyle has been promoted from deputy to the new Downing Street Director of Communications, replacing his boss and former Daily Mail colleague, James Slack, who has gone to be deputy editor of The Sun. Guido does wonder what this means for the much delayed televised briefings, Doyle’s a newspaperman and not one for revolutions…

mdi-timer 17 April 2021 @ 09:29 17 Apr 2021 @ 09:29 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sunday Times Swaps Hacks With Daily Mail

There’s big churn over at the Daily Mail following Jack Doyle’s appointment as No. 10’s new press secretary. Earlier this week it emerged the News Editor Ben Taylor is also leaving, being poached by the Sunday Times as deputy editor.

Guido hears word that Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor of The Sunday Times, is the hot front runner to fill the Daily Mail’s associate political editor vacancy created by Jack Doyle’s transfer Downing Street. Geordie Grieg will be pleased to nick a hack back from the Sunday Times. Guido understands the contract has not yet been signed…

UPDATE:  Sunday Times source gets in touch to say “Caroline is not leaving”. Guido understands that following negotiations the drinks are on Caroline…

mdi-timer 13 March 2020 @ 14:50 13 Mar 2020 @ 14:50 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Previous Page Next Page