Lord Ashcroft: Would I Trust Boris with my Wife?

Owen Jones’s customary Tory Conference video has just come out, which includes a rather amusing clip of him asking Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft whether he trusts Boris. The response took Jones and Guido by surprise…

Losses at Political Publisher Dods Surge to £5 Million

Guido is frankly stunned to report that political publisher Dods, whose publications include The House Magazine and PoliticsHome, has seen losses this year surge to £5,537,000. The firm shuttered Public Affairs News recently and rumour has it that Lord Ashcroft and Lord Bell fell out in relation to Sans Frontières Associates, Bell’s Ashcroft-backed lobbying venture. The losses are something of a surprise because Dods last year confidently claimed the bad times were over and they were all set for a profitable year. Given Dods main customer base, the public affairs industry in London, is coining it as firms try to figure out Brexit, it is somewhat mystifying. The digital future envisaged seems to have been less profitable than expected…

Something that was not unexpected was the writing off of 70% of the investment in Social360. In January Guido wrote:

Dods bought into Social360 – a social media monitoring service – which has not sold to clients as well as hoped. Many potential clients manage with a combination of Google alerts and Tweetdeck, both of which are free products. The social media crisis solution seems a bit unnecessary, because when you are in social media crisis, you know it without the need for expensive software. Making their database of “Dods People” acessible via a Salesforce CRM plugin seems like a smart idea until you realise public affairs professionals don’t use Salesforce, sales people do. “DODS Signals”, which “enables the tracking of social media profiles and interactions for over 5,000 political influencers”, is essentially a social media list with bells and whistles, which can pretty much be functionally replicated, for free, in Tweetdeck. Unless you don’t know how to search for a hashtag.

Not forgetting that in 2014/15 they bought “Social Lens” for a million which was also subsequently written off. There is also the very real competitive threat from Politico, which is a quality product written by journalists and read by the public affairs professionals who are Dods’ core customer base. All will work out next year says the new CEO after they raise £13.2 million to buy another software company, this time an Indian company, so they can get into AI. What could go wrong?

Brexit Party Voters Two Thirds Tory, One Seventh Labour

Rough breakdown from above is that two thirds of the Brexit Party’s voters came from the Tories, a seventh from Labour. Labour also haemorrhaged votes to the Greens and LibDems. Problems for both Labour and the Tories look daunting. The comentariat is already looking for another referendum, which is unlikely to be decisive. If instead the Tories elect a proper Brexiteer we could be out for Halloween…

More details here.

Political Publisher Dods Sees Share Price Plummet, Blames Brexit

Political publisher Dods, whose publications include The House Magazine and PoliticsHome saw their shares plummet 33% yesterday, knocking some £7 million off their valuation. In the last 12 months the shares have halved in value. New CEO Simon Presswell is blaming Brexit for an expected profits collapse because of the ‘unprecedented’ political uncertainty. Insiders blame the losses on a lack of customer interest in new products.

Dods bought into Social360 – a social media monitoring service – which has not sold to clients as well as hoped. Many potential clients manage with a combination of Google alerts and Tweetdeck, both of which are free products. The social media crisis solution seems a bit unnecessary, because when you are in social media crisis, you know it without the need for expensive software. Making their database of “Dods People” acessible via a Salesforce CRM plugin seems like a smart idea until you realise public affairs professionals don’t use Salesforce, sales people do. “DODS Signals”, which “enables the tracking of social media profiles and interactions for over 5,000 political influencers”, is essentially a social media list with bells and whistles, which can pretty much be functionally replicated, for free, in Tweetdeck. Unless you don’t know how to search for a hashtag.

None of this appears to have put Dods off expanding, their new CEO telling CEO Today that when it come to prospective mergers and acquisitions:

“we’ve done an extensive study that identifies tens of thousands of organisations that might possess an interest for us. We have defined the criteria of attributes that we look for in businesses that would benefit under our ownership, and we have applied this as a filter across those organisations and have a very specific target list.

If you imagine a 2×2 chart that has two axis [sic] on it, one is complexity, and the other is value. We are able to place our prospects into the appropriate quadrants: those that are high value and relatively low complexity take our priority, those that are high value and more complex take our second priority, and our third priority is on the opportunities that are not yet at high value and are relatively uncomplex. For those prospects, we will be seeking to partner with a select minority of incubators and innovators to bring on board those businesses and technologies in order to amplify them across our network.”

Shareholders, of which Lord Ashcroft is the biggest, might prefer an uncomplex focus on the bottom line…

Ashcroft Writing Biography of Jacob Rees-Mogg

Michael Ashcroft is writing a biography of the Moggster with the working title “Jacob’s Ladder” to be published by his publisher Biteback this summer. Which is likely to be too late to influence a Tory leadership election…

Lord Ashcroft thinks Rees-Mogg stands out among the current crop of politicians. This work will be on top of the book he is already writing – with regular collaborator Isabel Oakeshott – on the NHS. His biography of Cameron was seen as a revenge piece, the Moggster will be hoping for a kinder treatment…

Voters Want MPs to Reject Withdrawal Agreement

This poll out this morning from Ashcroft’s polling might surprise readers of the Daily Mail and others who are lapping up the superficially appealing line, delivered to camera from Downing Street by May, that the British people just want the government to “get on with it”. They don’t want them to get on with this deal. The British people overwhelmingly want MPs to reject the agreement.

By 46% to 26% they want MPs to reject the Withdrawal Agreement, if you exclude don’t knows that is 64% of the British people want MPs to reject the agreement – an almost 2 to 1 margin. Both Remain and Leave voters overwhelmingly dislike the deal…

Voters Don’t Mind If NI Leaves UK, Leavers and Tories Say Brexit More Important Than Union

A poll from Lord Ashcroft reveals that Leave voters would rather lose Northern Ireland than give up the benefits of Brexit. 63% of Leavers would rather leave the EU than keep the UK together. 73% of Tory Leavers agree, as well as half of Labour Leavers. Guido suspects that number would rise further among English Conservatives…

Ashcroft also asked GB voters what they would think if Northern Ireland left the UK. More than six in ten said they wouldn’t mind either way, including a clear majority of Tory and Labour voters. Theresa May has prioritised the union and no hard border over making the most of Brexit, and has been totally hamstrung in the negotiations as a result. It would appear the public don’t agree with that strategy…

Dods’ Shard Offices Infested with Maggots

Political publishers Dods – owned by Lord Ashcroft – are suffering a maggot infestation. Must be a metaphor in this story somewhere…

Dear Dear, Lord Ashcroft

Lord Ashcroft:

“Dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear…”

Ashcroft’s Lost Majority of 78

M’Lord Ashcroft has another book out today via his own publishing firm Biteback. “The Lost Majority” promises to draw “on his unique research to explain why the thumping victory the Tories expected never happened”. That would be his own polling which had as its central prediction a 78 seat Tory majority:

Guido has not yet read the book, which apparently has the theme that it is time to “wake up and smell the coffee again”. Guido is not crowing, he too expected a Tory majority, based on a gut feeling which may have been influenced by, err, pollsters. Fortunately Guido’s betting was on individual constituency results not the overall majority. That would have been expensive. Not as expensive as conducting rolling mega-polls of 40,000 people that turned out to be as much bollocks as most of the other polls…

Lord Ashcroft Hires Former Porn Star

dods-porn

Dods Group plc, the struggling political publishing business controlled by Lord Ashcroft, lost another £5 million last year. Ashcroft’s third CEO, Martin Beck on a mere £177,779, lasted only a year before being going. The publisher of The House magazine and PoliticsHome.com among other titles managed to lose £5 million on the back of write downs of asset valuations. Last year the Group reported the loss in earnings before tax of £5 million following a previous loss of £1.5 million in 2014. Guido is at a loss to understand how the firm can lose almost £20,000 per employee. The losses are ongoing year after year to such an extent that one begins to wonder if there is not some tax benefit, or if the balance sheet is being deliberately shrunk. Falling revenues have seen the headcount reduced from 280 to 260 – though the firm still has some 58 managers. The Dods share price is still trading below the price Lord Ashcroft paid in 2011 and the firm has not paid a single dividend since he got control…

Who has Lord Ashcroft hired to turn the firm around? Guy Cleaver, until recently Managing Director of Dods‘ events and training businesses, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for all the group’s businesses. Prior to joining the world of training Guy had a short-lived career in adult entertainment…

Here is a much younger Guy Cleaver starring in Witchcraft X. These are the more family friendly bits:

Hopefully Guy can sex up Lord Ashcroft’s political publishing business…

Lord Ashcroft on Cameron

Lord Ashcroft muses:

“In history we had empires so emperors ruled. Then we had kingdoms so kings ruled. Now we are just a country…”

Largest EU Poll Puts Brexit Ahead By 9%

survation-poll

A new Lord Ashcroft poll has shown that 47% of of voters back Brexit versus 38% opting to stay, and 14% undecided. The new poll is the largest of its kind and comes just after this week’s Survation and ICM polls that indicated that the vote was neck and neck, putting extra pressure on Cameron to secure meangingful reform. Another favour Lord Ashcroft has kindly done for the PM then…

Corbyn Guru Plugs ‘Joy of Tax’ Chez Ashcroft

Anglia Ruskin University are very excited to announce a series of free public lectures taking place on campus this autumn, where Corbyn economics guru and Cameron joke fodder Richard Murphy will “share his Joy of Tax”. According to the press release, loony left blogger Murphy “is credited with shaping Corbyn’s economic strategy, also advises trade unions on tax policy.[…] Read the rest

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Lord Ashcroft Hospitalised With Septic Shock

oakeshott-launch

Lord Ashcroft is missing his own book launch tonight because he is recovering in hospital after suffering from septic shock, liver and kidney failure on September 24. Iain Dale gave his speech in his place, revealing Ashcroft has spent 18 days in intensive care.[…] Read the rest

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Ashcroft Offers Labour £100,000 for the #EdStone

The must have accessory for any politico-billionaire…

If you have already been priced out of the auction, you can build your own #EdStone here.[…] Read the rest

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Ashcroft: Farage and Clegg Behind

Worth taking with a large pinch of salt because Ashcroft doesn’t prompt candidates’ names, but he has UKIP behind in South Thanet:

And Clegg trailing in Sheffield Hallam:

Guido has a considerable amount of money saying otherwise in Sheffield…[…] Read the rest

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Ashcroft: Murphy and Dougie Set to Lose Seats to SNP

Jim Murphy is trailing the SNP by 9 points in his East Renfrewshire seat, according to the latest Ashcroft constituency polling.

Wee Dougie Alexander is also behind by 11 points in Paisley.

LibDem MP for Berwickshire Michael Moore’s seat falls to the Tories.[…] Read the rest

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Ashcroft Reaffirms Dave Bio Is Post Election

Boo! There was a growing school of thought that Lord Ashcroft would bring forward publication of has ‘gak and all’ biography of Cameron to this side of the election. Especially after he resigned the Tory whip and his seat in the Lords.[…] Read the rest

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Ashcroft Tory Marginal Poll: One More Blue Seat Turns Red

According to Ashcroft’s latest projection, the following Tory MPs’ seats are on course to fall to Labour: Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Mike Weatherley (Hove), David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale), James Wharton (Stockton South).

Better news for Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys), Richard Graham (Gloucester), Chris Skidmore (Kingswood), Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) and Andrew Stephenson (Pendle), all set to hold on. […] Read the rest

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