On Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics (BBC1, September 22), a New Statesman journalist told Alastair Campbell politely but directly that, whereas Labour spin doctors were at odds with each other, the Coalition have been on the same page from the start.
Campbell had nothing to say in response. Furthermore, the legacy lingered on as he was reported to have been unhappy with Damian McBride’s new book, particularly with the timing of its release. Serialised in the Mail this week — during Labour’s party conference — it reveals the various feuds and divisions during their 13-year rule. None dare call that period service to the nation.
Ed Miliband made an appearance in a one-to-one interview on the same edition of Sunday Politics. Although his voice sounds a little deeper, it is still adenoidal. And, like Tony Blair in the mid-1990s, Miliband refused to commit to anything.
Having watched both him and Chuka Umunna on recent Sunday shows, the predominant phrase of today’s Labour is, ‘We couldn’t do that; it would be like writing a blank cheque’. (Oh, the irony!) If you drank a short each time you heard that phrase, well, you’d be toasted by lunchtime.
Anyway, back to the public relations/spin fiasco that the lady from the New Statesman mentioned. It’s interesting that the publication announced that Miliband has just appointed Patrick Hennessy as Labour’s deputy director of communications.
‘Who is Patrick Hennessy?’ you might ask. He has worked as a print journalist for over 30 years, the last nine of which he has spent as the Sunday Telegraph‘s political editor.
Hmm. Is or was he a Tory or just a politically-interested, yet party-agnostic journalist? We do not know much about him, except that he is a Chelsea fan, is married and has a son and a daughter.
The New Statesman quotes Labour’s description of Hennessy’s brief, which is to
direct, shape and lead the daily media output of the Labour Party. He will sharpen Labour’s attack stories, improve message discipline and ensure the party delivers a 24-hour news cycle.
One of the online readers, Indu_Pendent offered this:
What happens if you put Campbell and Hennessy together?
– ignore each other (have the same spin)
– annihilate (opposite spin)
– combine to form a new whole (needs one to spin twice as much as the other)
– grate each other and stay apart (both spin the same without charm or beauty)
Do you think the £6Bn spent on Cern was good value? After all they are still searching for a Labour policy.
Largely, however, none of the New Statesman‘s readers of that piece seems to mind that Hennessy spent nearly a decade at the Sunday Telegraph.
Presumably, he’ll be reporting to one or both of the following players on Team Miliband:
Senior advisor (communications and strategy)
The pugnacious former Times journalist was appointed as Ed Miliband’s head of strategy in December 2010 and swiftly improved Labour’s messaging. Despite repeated attacks on him by the Conservatives, he has managed to avoid becoming the story.
Director of communications
Described by Labour figures as the “good cop” to “bad cop” Baldwin, the former Daily Mirror political editor manages Miliband’s day-to-day relations with the media. A lobby journalist for 13 years before joining the Labour team, Roberts is adept at charming his former peers.