Monthly Archives: August 2010

A lesson in soundbites from lobbyist-turned-Labour MP

Labour backbenchers keen to rise up the ranks, take note of this sensational quote from lobbyist-turned-spinner-turned-Labour MP Michael Dugher in today’s Telegraph.

A former lobbyist for the IT firm EDS, Dugher was recently responsible for Gordon Brown’s press relations before becoming MP for Barnsley East on a reduced Labour majority.

Commenting on the news that the Tories are holding a fund-raising dinner at their forthcoming conference at which donors won’t have to declare their identities, he fulminates:

“This is cash-for-access, plain and simple. For all the Conservative talk of new politics, this is the same old Tory sleaze. Selling access to government ministers at £1,000 a head is just grubby.”

See? There may be a lively debate to be had about politicians and money – how to fund political parties, should they they be dependent on public or private money, blah blah blah – but that can be left to the likes of Conservative Home.

Instead, keep it simple. Be bold – they won’t use your quote if you sit on the fence. Try to use a few emotive words (sleaze is always a good one get in there).  Maybe even ask the journo what he would like to hear to ensure that you don’t say the wrong thing!


Where did all the Labour advisers go?

Top PR agencies are continuing to sign up Tories and Lib Dems. But have they completely given up on signing Labour types?

It’s now over 100 days since Labour lost power and many of those working as special advisers in the last government remain unaccounted for.

Brown’s spin twins Mick Dugher and John Woodcock were parachuted in to safe seats at the last election and are now both MPs. The highly rated Justin Forsyth, one of Brown’s top comms strategists, is the new chief executive of Save the Children UK.  And former spads Mark Davies (aide to Jack Straw) and Claire McCarthy (aide to Peter Hain) have recently taken jobs  overseeing PR for charities.

But what about the rest?

A scattering of former Labour advisers are busy working on leadership campaigns, but a significant number are knocking on the doors of the UK’s top PR consultancies, I’m reliably informed.

The problem is that most ex-Labour aides are demanding salaries of more than £80,000– with some expecting to be paid as much as £100,000.

As one senior figure at one of the UK’s biggest PR consultancies told me this week:

‘You pay that for a director, but there’s not a hope in hell that some of these people will earn that. They are adding these sums on to what they were paid in government, but it’s completely unrealistic. They need to get in the real world.’

Full story here

Lobbying firm signs up mystery man “Michael”

Looks like Peter Bingle is preparing to unveil a new signing.  The Bell Pottinger lobbying boss put out a rather mysterious message on his Twitter feed this morning:

“Michael. Plan to give release to PR Week etc tomorrow at midday. Won’t be public until Thursday. Do you have a nice photo?”

Who could this mysterious Michael be? A few of the runners and riders:

30/1 Portillo

40/1 White

50/1 Roux

100/1 Mcintyre, Moore, Bublé…

7 PM UPDATE: Acting on rumours now swirling around the higher echelons of lobbying land,  I just chucked two names at my Bell Pottinger insider. Was told that the hire in question is NOT Tory grandee Michael Ancram – but that this rumour was ‘close’. The same source did not rule out former leader Michael Howard.

That would be the same Michael Howard who expressed interest in being hired by the fake lobbying firm that recently exposed three former Labour cabinet ministers….

TUESDAY UPDATE: Steady the buffs, it’s none of the above. The Michael in question turns out to be a long-serving Tory aide …

Where next for Sunday Times political ed?

After a slightly longer blogging break than I had initially planned…

Intriguing news about Sunday Times political editor Jonathan Oliver leaving the paper for job in PR. I was especially pleased to see Jonathan giving full credit to the hungry hack who got the scoop on that one. What a gent!

Jonathan’s next move remains something of a mystery. Certainly his lobby colleagues are none the wiser. I understand that, contrary to some of the rumours swirling around the parliamentary press pack, he will  not be spinning for David Cameron, Tesco or any other such household name.

My understanding is that he is destined for agency life. But with who?

Is he moving to Weber Shandwick as a belated replacement for the much-missed Michael Prescott, himself a former Sunday Times political ed? Could Edelman have signed him up as the latest big name journalist to add further clout to their swelling operation? Or perhaps Hill & Knowlton have dipped in to their considerable coffers to sharpen up their public affairs and corporate offerings….

Meanwhile, the race is on to fill his shoes at The Sunday Times. Shortest odds are on deputy political ed Isabel Oakeshott getting the top job. But should editor John Witherow look elsewhere, lobby insiders believe Evening Standard deputy political ed Paul Waugh is firmly in the frame, along with Daily Mail deputy political ed Tim Shipman and The Times’ chief political correspondent Sam Coates…