Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

A top priority for the new Labour leader Ed Miliband is to appoint a media strategist who has the authority to help develop a disciplined message and then try to enforce it across a fractious party.Another psycho-drama is already unfolding fuelled by the divisive negative briefings which are the legacy of New Labour.

By boosting his staff in Downing Street with a personal photographer and his own video-blogger David Cameron has jeopardised one of the coalition’s most successful pr strategies, the story line that the new government had turned its back on spin.   

In his television documentary – Five Days That Changed Britain – the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson chides himself for his failure to have predicted that in the event of an inconclusive general election David Cameron might attempt to establish a coalition government. I too was taken totally by surprise by the boldness of Cameron’s ‘big, open and comprehensive’ offer to Nick Clegg and his skill in negotiating a deal that paved the way for a joint Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration.

After the revelation that during the August holidays David Cameron paid a hitherto secret visit to Rupert Murdoch’s yacht off the Greek Islands, there have been more tell-tale signs that the Conservative leader is cosying up to the Murdoch press. In a signed article for the Sun (3.11.2008), Cameron was firmly on message in a double-page spread: “Tory chief hits out -- Bloated BBC out of touch with viewers”. Cameron hit all the right buttons: the licence fee should be reduced and the argument that the BBC needed to attract large audiences was “bogus”. But more importantly Cameron sided with Murdoch in arguing that the BBC should stop abusing its position by trying to compete with newspaper websites. Because of their heavy investment in online services -- some of which are beginning to make money -- it is essential from the Murdoch perspective that there should be no effective competition from the BBC. Cameron delivered just the line that he knew would appeal to Murdoch: “The squeezing and crushing or commercial competitors online or in publishing needs to be stopped”. Nicholas Jones says Cameron and his communications director Andy Coulson (just named pr professional of 2008) need no lessons on how to woo the Murdoch press: Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell blazed that self-same trail in the 1990s:

______ 

 

 

Hand to hand combat between the government and political correspondents would continue if the Conservatives were elected because an administration led by David Cameron would be just as determined to try to control the news agenda.

This was the conclusion of journalists and press officers at a seminar held by the Westminster Media Forum (1.7.2008). The two sides felt that the politicisation of civil service information officers, and the likelihood that any future government would find itself on the defensive, meant that further trench warfare was inevitable.

Subcategories