Posts Tagged ‘Downing Street’

Tom Watson’s anatomy of a Downing St spin day

29/10/2010, 12:05:43 PM

Yesterday, we were opaquely conned.  Downing Street heralded a “forging ahead in the transparency agenda.” We were misled.

“This is the first time any government has proactively published information on special advisers’ gifts and hospitality. All this information is being published quarterly which will mean more regular and up to date information”, said Downing Street.

The rhetoric was soaring; the action was far more subterranean.

What actually happened was a cynical, but well executed spin exercise to kill the story and deflect attention on to the last Labour government – with Downing St spinners taking lobby journalists for patsies.

The statements were delayed – the first to be published was a statement on the cost of government cars for the last financial year of the Labour government. The next statement was not released for three hours.

Then the number 10 spin machine kicked into overdrive. The information about Labour special advisors for the last 12 months of the last Labour government was placed in the House of Commons library – great, transparent, easy to access. What about the statements on Tory and Lib Dem advisers, where were they? Well they were tucked away online, hidden from view, released in dribs and drabs.

PA led with the easy to find Labour information, comparing figures on the number of advisors. Cameron has reduced the number they say, or has he just moved the goal posts? How many lackeys from CCHQ have now found their way on to the civil service payroll?


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Wednesday News Review

19/05/2010, 06:58:03 AM

Ed Balls to join leadership race

“Mr Balls will travel to the Midlands today to give a speech from Gedling, Nottinghamshire, a marginal constituency which Labour unexpectedly held at the election. Its MP, Vernon Coaker, is among those backing Mr Balls. His declaration takes the number of leadership candidates to three. David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, and his younger brother, Ed, had been the only others to officially launch their leadership bids.” – The Independent

Ed Balls will announce tomorrow that he will join the race to replace Gordon Brown, as Labour opted for a marathon timetable to elect a new leader. The party’s ruling executive committee responded to calls for a cathartic contest by laying out a four-month battle lasting through the summer. The new leader will be announced on the first Saturday of the party’s annual conference in September. Balls, the former schools secretary, will launch his bid while visiting two marginal constituencies in the Midlands. At the general election, the party lost one of the seats and gained the other.” – The Guardian

“David Cameron and Nick Clegg must be delighted that no women, ethnic minority candidates or working class men have entered the Labour leadership race. Assuming Ed Balls throws his hat into the ring today, he’ll be the third white, middle class man to enter the fray, joining Ed and David Miliband.” – Toby Young, The Telegraph

“The ex-Schools Secretary will join David and Ed Miliband in trying to succeed Gordon Brown. Labour bosses said yesterday the new leader will be named on September 25, the first day of the annual conference. Mr Balls, a close political ally of Mr Brown, will get heavyweight backing from trade unions.” – The Sun

“Mr Balls is expected to formally announce his candidacy today. David and Ed Miliband have already confirmed they are in the running. Andy Burnham, who was Health Secretary under Gordon Brown, is also expected to stand. Jon Cruddas, a backbencher who had been tipped to take part in the contest, has said that he will not be a candidate. Left-wing MP John McDonnell will also announce tomorrow that he intends to stand.” – Sky News

The leadership contest

“It is a tragedy for Labour that the best woman for the job isn’t even standing for the party’s leadership. Yvette Cooper would expose David Cameron and Nick Clegg as a couple of out-of-touch posh boys just by appearing at a TV podium. Persuasive and articulate, this comprehensive-educated daughter of a trade union leader is a family-friendly politician. And that’s a significant reason why the mum-of-three isn’t running. The former cabinet minister is ambitious, but not so ambitious that she’d trade her life for a thankless post with uncertain prospects.” – The Mirror

“The design specifications are exact: fortysomething Oxbridge boys who approach ideological difference through their choice of ties, who understand the importance of political stagecraft and who see no difference between “the country” and television’s demographics. Since the creation of the Blair template, they have become, as Labour is discovering, compulsory. They have to be young(ish), therefore energetic, therefore new, therefore capable of associating their brands with the word “change”. A foreigner might have difficulty in distinguishing between a Cameron, a Clegg and a Miliband (any Miliband) in an identity parade, but that’s of no account, least of all to the contestants.” – The Herald

“THE BATTLE for the Labour Party leadership is expected to intensify today with a declaration by former cabinet minister Ed Balls, but a row is looming over the decision to close off nominations next week. Even though the election will not be decided until Labour’s September annual conference, the party’s national executive committee yesterday decided that nominations would close tomorrow week. Gordon Brown’s replacement will be chosen by an electoral college split three ways between MPs, Labour Party members and union members who have not opted out of paying a political levy.” – The Irish Times

GB tried to resign before election

Gordon Brown drafted a speech on the eve of the general election campaign setting out plans to stand down within a year of the poll, but was persuaded by senior ministers not to go ahead. At a meeting on the eve of the election, his proposal to announce his plan to stand down was supported by David Muir, his director of political strategy and chief polling adviser. But Ed Balls, Lord Mandelson and Douglas Alexander argued against the idea.” – The Guardian

“Supported by David Muir, his director of political strategy and chief polling adviser, Brown announced his plan at a meeting on the eve of the election campaign, but was dissuaded by Ed Balls, Lord Mandelson and Douglas Alexander. According to an adviser Mr Brown had even drafted a speech setting out his intentions because he saw himself as a barrier to Labour’s re-election.” – The Telegraph

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As the coalition coalesces, Labour must not cede the centre ground, argues Benjamin Wegg-Prosser

18/05/2010, 05:55:27 AM

Labour types will have found last weekend rather curious: an interview with the PM of which we felt no sense of ownership; front page stories on splits at the heart of government which did not raise our blood pressure; and talk of leadership contests which we could not dismiss as an irrelevant side-show.
The idea that being out of office is something which we should welcome and embrace is clearly bonkers.  But it is an enforced opportunity to reflect on what we achieved and where we came up short over the past 13 years.  The fact that the Tories are making the weather – and the audacity of the new coalition is nothing if not a remarkable piece of political manoeuvring – should renew our appetite for a swift return to government.
In short, Cameron’s move presents both an opportunity and a problem for us.  The former is clear: he has not reformed his party; he was unable to push through the changes which he wanted in opposition, so he has rather skilfully turned his own failure to secure a majority to his distinct advantage, marginalising the policies and people whom he wanted to junk but could not do so prior to the election. (more…)

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