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. He is the author of The Joy of Tax and a founder of the Tax Justice Network”. The contents of the lecture will not exactly be kind to, say, former Belize-based tax exile non-doms. Appropriate, then, that it “will take place on Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus in the Lord Ashcroft Building”…

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. Lord A is said to be recovering and is still active on Twitter. Guests at the Call Me Dave launch were stunned into silence by the news…

UPDATE: Full details of Ashcroft’s “life-threatening” illness via Channel 5 Belize:

He suffered internal bleeding and was treated in Ohio. His family feared for his life. He is now “out of danger and recuperating well”.

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.

So have Labour smashed it up yet, or not?

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…

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.

Ming Campbell and Charlie Kennedy both fall to the SNP.

Scotland is turning yellow…

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. Yet it is not to be: Call Me Dave is out for conference.

It seems he’s pretty grumpy about the whole thing though, writing on ConservativeHome:

“I have made it clear that my book, a collaboration with former Sunday Times Political Editor Isabel Oakeshott, will be objective. Nonetheless Cameron is suspicious. It is no secret that he dislikes the prospect of what he dismissively labels “the Ashcroft book”. We have tried, and failed, to persuade him to talk. While Seldon has had full co-operation from Number 10 (I am told “everybody” – from Ed Llewellyn, Cameron’s chief of staff, down – has been encouraged to make time for the historian) the Prime Minister has shut the doors to us. Letters to relatives requesting interviews have gone unanswered, and senior aides know he does not want them to help. Some individuals who were willing to talk to us in principle but wanted Downing Street’s blessing were repeatedly stonewalled. Cameron’s strategy appears to be: put up the shutters, then rubbish the book on the basis that we have had no access.”

It’s going to be an expensive academic exercise if Dave is not the PM come September…

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. Stuart Andrew in Pudsey is tied with Labour.

The only change from the last Ashcroft poll in these constituencies is Harrow East, whoch turns from blue to red. Ashcroft explains “The most notable movement across the board in this round of polling was a move towards the two main parties at the expense of UKIP”…

Lord Ashcroft Quits Lords

camdance

Cameron’s funder, turned pollster, turned critical biographer is off:

“Earlier this year Baroness D’Souza, the Lord Speaker, said that any Member of the House of Lords who can “no longer contribute meaningfully” should retire. She added that since the House has close to 800 members, “retirement at the right time should be seen as a condition of membership of the House of Lords – a duty as well as a right”.

I agree with the Speaker, and have concluded that my other activities do not permit me to devote the time that membership of the Lords properly requires.

Accordingly, I have today written to the Clerk of the Parliaments giving notice of my resignation from the House of Lords with immediate effect, pursuant to Section 1(1) of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.

I will continue my involvement in politics through Lord Ashcroft Polls and my political publishing interests: Conservative Home, Biteback Publishing and Dods.”

Tories will be grateful, after busting a gut to get him in there…

UPDATE:

UPDATE II:

Tories:

“Lord Ashcroft should be recognised for his contribution to public life and to the Conservative Party during his time in the Lords. We wish him all the best for the future.”

How Would Party Leaders Spend Friday Night?

Lord Ashcroft’s focus group is back, this time asked how they think each party leader would spend a free Friday night:

Cameron: “get a helicopter to Cornwall” with Sam and the kids, or go “to his club” to engage in “mildly inappropriate banter with Conservative MPs and eight bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon”

Farage: go to the pub, possibly after a spot of fishing, or “to a French restaurant with his German wife to complain about immigration”

Clegg: would take his wife and children ten-pin bowling, or stay in with them to watch Great British Bake Off

Miliband: if he did not have a “posh dinner party” planned, would be playing with the train set some suspect he has in his loft, or spend the time “reading the opinion polls for something to grab onto”

But how many lofts does Ed have?

Ashcroft Focus Group Tell Leaders to Go Back to School

The Ashcroft focus group is back and this time his Lordship has asked which job would each party leader be best suited to outside of politics:

Cameron: “a headmaster, or a company director in charge of things”

Farage: “a pub landlord, and a good one at that, or would run his own small but successful business”

Clegg: “probably something administrative or perhaps a supermarket store manager”

Miliband: “university professor”

Former Harvard lecturer Miliband shouldn’t have quit the day job…[…] Read the rest

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