Number 10 Press Briefing Descends Into Chaos

The Lobby did not take kindly to Guido’s live-Tweeting transparency initiative today, as one-by-one Lobby hacks erupted into a cacophony of complaints that their cartel is being chipped away. All in a day’s work…

Urgent clarification was sought from half-a-dozen journalists over whether the Number 10 briefing was only for the Lobby or not. The Prime Minister’s spokesman James Slack told the room the rules of Downing Street’s press briefings are determined by the lobby for members of the lobby. As Guido is not a signed-up member of the cartel, this was useful to hear reiterated…

One hack spitefully joined in with the chaotic chorus, saying Guido reporters “aren’t really journalists.” In the heat of the moment Lobby Chairman Chris Hope agreed – something for which he has since apologised. Assorted Lobby hacks asked what the punishment would be for journalists breaking their self-imposed rules. They were none-too-impressed when Slack reminded the Lobby they enforce their rules for their members and Number 10 was not going to get involved…

One hack complained that Guido named the Prime Minister’s spokesman as James Slack, saying “you’re spokesman, aren’t you?” Slack retorted “It’s been convention that I’ve not been named, but some news agencies name me and others don’t. I have no view either way.” This current government is, after all, not afraid to break with precedent…

After around ten minutes of hectoring, Slack wearily asked the Lobby if they had any questions that weren’t to do with themselves, and pertained to actual Government business. They reluctantly accepted…

The post-meeting huddle – led by the chief instigators of the cacophony – Tom Newton Dunn and Pippa Crerar – cornered Slack to demand a discussion about who can turn up to the briefings, presumably pushing for even more of a closed shop. Which would be a bizarre move given the Lobby claims to be all about embracing transparency…

mdi-timer 21st January 2020 @ 2:45 pm 21st Jan 2020 @ 2:45 pm mdi-comment Comments
What Readers Think of Live-Tweeting Downing Street Briefings

Guido’s looking forward to shortly making his way over to Downing Street for another 11 O’Clock government press briefing. Yesterday there was outrage from the Lobby cartel when – purely in the public interest and transparency the Lobby purports to serve – Guido live-tweeted the contents of the meeting. Resulting in a telling off from the Lobby chairman…

Ahead of today’s meeting, Guido thought it worth highlighting reader’s comments to the Lobby, to remind them that this is a battle they will not win with the public:

One Minister last night accurately described the Lobby as the last vestige of Westminster’s old boy’s club. Tune into @GuidoFawkes in half-an-hour for another live-tweeting…

mdi-timer 21st January 2020 @ 10:28 am 21st Jan 2020 @ 10:28 am mdi-comment Comments
Cartel Attempts to Enforce Anti-Competitive Rules, Guido Tells Lobby There Will Be No Regulatory Alignment

Guido got a complaint in writing from the Chairman of the Lobby this morning after the briefing from the PM’s spokesman in 9 Downing Street. We live-tweeted comments as they happened, as we have whenever we choose to attend. Lobby hacks still think they are monopoly gatekeepers.

Here’s our reply:

Christopher Hope
Lobby Chairman

Dear Christopher,

Happy new year. Thanks for sending a copy of the Lobby’s rules to Christian, our junior reporter. He tells me he has no recollection of joining your Lobby cartel.

You highlight your cartel’s quaint rules which state: “No information revealed during the Lobby briefings must be put into the public domain – via social media or a third party – until the briefings have concluded.”

Apparently a number of your cartel colleagues have complained about tweets sent from this morning’s 9 Downing Street briefing and published on the Guido Fawkes Twitter feed.

As the Prime Minister’s Spokesman James Slack made clear this morning, those are your rules not Downing Street’s rules. If your cartel wants to enforce anti-competitive rules on its members that is one thing. If you attempt to enforce those rules on us, or restrain us from going about our business in any way, we will not hesitate to seek a remedy under the law.

You say this rule exists so that “no one gets an advantage”. A prominent Brexiteer like yourself should understand the advantages of avoiding regulatory alignment with a sclerotic organisation.

Be in no doubt that, as he has since the beginning of this year, Christian will be live tweeting to our readers from 9 Downing Street tomorrow.

Paul Staines
Editor, Guido Fawkes

No doubt the Lobby hacks will be there tomorrow taking shorthand with their quills, follow Guido for the news straight from Downing Street in realtime, as it happens…

mdi-timer 20th January 2020 @ 3:51 pm 20th Jan 2020 @ 3:51 pm mdi-comment Comments
Live Stream the ‘People’s Briefings’ from Downing Street

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…

mdi-timer 9th January 2020 @ 9:57 am 9th Jan 2020 @ 9:57 am mdi-comment Comments
Lobby Settle into New Venue

First day back at school for the Westminster press pack meant a new classroom. Namely, the changes brought in by Dominic Cummings in the so-called ‘war’ between No. 10 and the Lobby, which saw the Downing Street briefing session moved from the usual venue into the heart of Downing Street. Downing Street’s estimation of the Lobby was clear to see from the way they had about a dozen staffers guide them up one flight of stairs to the room…

The new venue, inside No. 9 Downing Street’s old Privy Council courtroom, which was once used by DExEU in its early days. The PM’s team sat at the front, with the Lobby in neat, silent rows. The atmosphere is very different…

Cummings was also in attendance, standing at the back and joking to one member of the press he was “just here to see the new regime”. He left after about 20 minutes and unfortunately missed the PM’s spokesperson avoiding an answer when asked whether the PM is looking forward to Downing Street being staffed by losers and misfits.

Despite the initial fears of the Lobby, phones weren’t confiscated, with very minimal security in trying to get into the street. Lobby hacks will get used to the new regime…

mdi-timer 6th January 2020 @ 1:58 pm 6th Jan 2020 @ 1:58 pm mdi-comment Comments
Cummings Declares War on the Lobby

While Cummings’s blog post last night focussed on the impending shake-up of employment in Whitehall, Guido also learns of big reforms to the way for Lobby-Downing Street relations, including changes to the venue Lobby briefings happen and the ability to bring in advisers to talk to hacks rather than just the official spokespeople. The lobby are claiming this is designed not to work and is tantamount to a declaration of war from Downing Street…

Not only are the Lobby angry at such short notice, but there are big concerns it will make it harder for people to attend, may restrict phone access in the huddles and No. 10 could refuse access to journalists it doesn’t like.

Read the message, and concerns, in full below:

Read More

mdi-timer 3rd January 2020 @ 11:30 am 3rd Jan 2020 @ 11:30 am mdi-comment Comments
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