The gentlemen of the Lobby are as thin-skinned and status conscious as a gaggle of gay hairdressers on a night out, currently they are up in arms about Downing Street insisting that their briefings be held at their offices. Usually ebullient Lobby chairman Christopher Hope is complaining that they now have to nip across Parliament Square and pop into Downing Street to hold the government to account. The truth is it is way past time to open up the government’s briefings, make them transparent and disintermediate the gatekeepers of the political news agenda.
In a digital world where news happens in realtime, not to inky deadlines, it is time to just put the briefings out live, streamed to everyone on all platforms. During the election Boris livestreamed his “People’s PMQs” on Facebook, demonstrating there is no technological reason why the briefings can’t be broadcast via a free digital feed to everyone. Hacks will still get to ask the questions, they just won’t be able to spin off-camera, privately delivered answers as they do now.
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 new reports. Transparency will devalue their role because information scarcity makes their possession of a spokesman’s phone number so much more valuable. A start to improving and opening up the system would be to put the people’s briefings into the open, in realtime as it happens…
It’s early evening on the first day back to work of 2020 and Westminster for the most part remains quiet, until Cummings’s blog whirs back into life to launch a seismic hiring scheme to sweep away the cobwebs of Whitehall. Bring us your tired, your poor, your weirdos and misfits…
In the 3,000 word blog, Cummings puts the call out for a new generation of non-humanities graduates to move into the offices of power, including:
You can read the typically anarchic blog in full here, however some choice quotes include:
a new government with a significant majority and little need to worry about short-term unpopularity while trying to make rapid progress with long-term problems.
Those applying must watch Bret Victor’s talks and study Dynamic Land. If this excites you, then apply; if not, then don’t
One of you will be a sort of personal assistant to me for a year — this will involve a mix of very interesting work and lots of uninteresting trivia that makes my life easier which you won’t enjoy. You will not have weekday date nights, you will sacrifice many weekends — frankly it will hard having a boy/girlfriend at all. It will be exhausting but interesting and if you cut it you will be involved in things at the age of ~21 that most people never see.
I don’t want confident public school bluffers. I want people who are much brighter than me who can work in an extreme environment. If you play office politics, you will be discovered and immediately binned
political journalists are still behind the 2016 tech, hence why so many fell for Carole’s conspiracy theories.
People in SW1 talk a lot about ‘diversity’ but they rarely mean ‘true cognitive diversity’. They are usually babbling about ‘gender identity diversity blah blah’. What SW1 needs is not more drivel about ‘identity’ and ‘diversity’ from Oxbridge humanities graduates but more genuine cognitive diversity.
We need some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole, weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand ‘diviner’ who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger or that Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB. If you want to figure out what characters around Putin might do, or how international criminal gangs might exploit holes in our border security, you don’t want more Oxbridge English graduates who chat about Lacan at dinner parties with TV producers and spread fake news about fake news.
Cummings concludes by saying:
I will use this blog to throw out ideas. It’s important when dealing with large organisations to dart around at different levels, not be stuck with formal hierarchies. It will seem chaotic and ‘not proper No10 process’ to some. But the point of this government is to do things differently and better and this always looks messy
The revolution will be blogged…
Despite talk from Cummings of slimming down and cutting the cost of government, Downing Street are clearly loosening their belt for Christmas, with an enormous Harrods delivery being seen going in via the back gates this morning. Boris’s fiscal plans in action…
Guido understands despite Farage’s public offer of an electoral pact being rejected by Boris, behind the scenes the ERG is trying to broker an understanding. Farage told an ERG MP yesterday he would be “looking very closely” at the Tory manifesto, as the pair discussed the ERG’s demands that Boris makes an explicit commitment to keep ‘No Deal’ on the table during the future relationship negotiations. This morning Andrew Bridgen spoke with Downing Street and CCHQ, Farage’s hint that he would stand down candidates if the ERG’s demands were met was reportedly “well-received”. Is Farage looking to dig out of his hole?
Several ERG MPs also met with Boris this morning in CCHQ, where Tory candidates and MPs were taking photos with the PM for election literature. The ERG want the Tory manifesto to include an explicit reference that the aim of the next phase of negotiations with the EU is for a simple FTA and that if no agreement is made by the end of 2020, Britain will leave on WTO terms. Last week The Times reported that Boris will remove the threat of ‘No Deal’ from the Conservative manifesto, however, several ERG MPs have told Guido this would be akin to “surrender”. Steve Baker tells Guido: “Having condemned the Surrender Act it would totally bizarre to enter FTA negotiations and rule out leaving with No Deal.”
Downing Street seems to agree, this morning the PM’s spokesman categorically ruled out extending the transition beyond 2020, “the government will not be extending the transition period”. Which means there will be a year to hammer out and finalise a free trade agreement. Easily doable given the UK-EU’s existing total regulatory alignment…
Peter Heneghan has joined the Cabinet Office in Downing Street as head of digital communications, he was formerly in a similar role at LADbible and before that Buzzfeed. If anyone should know how to reach that difficult to reach Leave-backing-lads demographic, it is this Irishman. Strictly speaking Heneghan is not a SpAd he is a civil servant, so we have not added him to the SpAd List.
SpAds have been listed by Guido in order of seniority. If any SpAds reading the list disagree with this hierarchy, feel free to send in your contracts for us to double check…
See the full list here: order-order.com/spads
Dilyn and the Chancellor’s Bailey chilling harmoniously in Downing Street….