Friday, January 18, 2008

The dangers of employing SpAds

Excellent and disarmingly honest post from Guido earlier today in which he admits that the unhelpful and hostile attitude of Peter Hain's special adviser had spurred him on in his attempts to get the bottom of the permatanned one's financial affairs.

I think if we are all equally frank about it, this is a fairly common occurence in journalism. Most journalists would agree that if an official or press officer is being obstructive or difficult about something, it makes them all the more convinced there's a good story there, and hence all the more determined to get it.

Since train stories are all the rage in the blogosphere at the moment, I will relate an incident that occurred some years ago on a train journey from Newcastle to London in which I found myself sat opposite the special adviser to the then local government minister, Hilary Armstrong.

The man in question - I won't bother to name him as he no longer works for the government - sat in front of me with a briefcase on his lap and said words to the effect of: "There's something in here you'd really like to know about but which I'm not going to show you," and then preceded to spend the rest of the journey taunting me about it.

It was stupid behaviour on two counts. First, it was hardly calculated to endear me to his then boss, Ms Armstrong, and second, it alerted me to the existence of a report which I would not otherwise have known about, and which I eventually obtained by other means.

Only a few years earlier, the adviser in question had been a local councillor who was happy to use the regional press as a platform. It was clear that as soon as he graduated to national politics, the power went straight to his head.

Alastair Campbell aside, the very worst example of all of a spAd who did huge damage to her boss's cause was of course Jo "bury bad news" Moore, although this was not something particular to me.

Long before that shameful incident on the afternoon of 9/11, the woman brought in to soften Steve Byers' media profile in the hope of making him the next Labour Prime Minister had managed to alienate most of the Lobby, and there were very few tears shed over her spectacular fall from grace.

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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

The other side of the coin from a PRO perspective is the ruder the journalist is to you the less likely you are to be helpful even if the re is nothing to hide.

Journalists should always bear in mind that politeness is a minimum requirement in seeking information. In fact that should be part of journalistic training because ultimately they are the oness that suffer.

Invariably the rudest hacks are often the least important.

Paul Linford said...

Invariably or often? Make up your mind.

Anonymous said...

You are Hain's biggest critic. Why?
Why does everyone think Guido Fawkes AKA Paul Staines is a neutral. Guido Fawkes is an extreme right winger.

His recent castigation of anti racist campaigner Mr Hain is a sign of what he hates. Hain sacrificed his security against a brutal state to fight for democracy for blacks in south Africa. Fawkes despises him for that.

He joined the Young Conservatives whilst at University.

Here is the real facts about Fawkes

Having joined the Federation of Conservative Students, he described his politics as "Thatcher on drugs".

Staines worked as 'foreign policy analyst' for the extreme right wing Committee for a Free Britain, a right wing Conservative pressure group, alongside David Hart. Staines acted as editor of 'British Briefing' a long standing publication that sought to "smear Labour MPs and left leaning lawyers and writers".

He does the same now but claims he is neutral. Funny how he nevers insults the tories bosses infact seems to let them of the hook. I am sure you can see he is no neutral. He is no neutral but wait the later points are even worse. .

Staines relates of his work with the Committee: in the book

(1998). Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House, 2nd edition, London: Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-604-7. —

"I was lobbying at the Council of Europe and at Parliament; I was over in Washington, in Jo'burg, in South America. It was 'let's get guns for the Contras', that sort of stuff. I was enjoying it immensely, I got to go with these guys and fire off AK-47s. I always like to go where the action is, and for that period in the Reagan/Thatcher days, it was great fun, it was all expenses paid and I got to see the world. I used to think that World Briefing was a bit funny. The only scary thing about those publications was the mailing list - people like George Bush - and the fact that Hart would talk to the head of British Intelligence for an hour. I used to think it was us having a laugh, putting some loony right-wing sell in, and that somebody somewhere was taking it seriously. You've got to understand that we had a sense of humor about this."

The CFB invited Adolfo Calero, the Nicaraguan Contra leader, to visit the UK.

What kinf of sickoe works with the contras and supplies gunsot them.

In a November 1984 report the Sandinista government alleged since 1981 the Contras had assassinated 910 state officials; attacked nearly 100 civilian communities; caused the displacement of over 150,000 people from their homes and farms; and damaged or destroyed bridges, port facilities, granaries, water and oil deposits, electrical power stations, telephone lines, saw mills, health centers, schools and dams.

A Sandinista militiaman interviewed by The Guardian stated Contra rebels committed these atrocities against Sandinista prisoners after a battle at a Sandinista rural outpost:

Rosa had her breasts cut off. Then they cut into her chest and took out her heart. The men had their arms broken, their testicles cut off. They were killed by slitting their throats and pulling the tongue out through the slit. Fawkes must be so proud. So think of that when you read his blog.

What kind of sickoe thinks it is fun to support sick creeps like the contras.

The CFB launched a number of policy campaigns and initiatives during 1988. It also supported the Community Charge (Poll Tax).

In time for the October 1988 Conservative Party Conference, the CFB published a British Foreign Policy - The Case for Reform, featuring a photo on the front cover of Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe giving the clenched fist salute at a meeting in southern Africa. In the pamphlet's conclusion it stated "The Foreign Office is one of the last of the great institutions to escape the refreshing breath of Thatcherism." Howe maintained he had not been giving a black power salute.


So now we see why fawkes despises hain. Re,ber he was a foreign policy analyst..

Anonymous said...

Guido is a right wing blogger who hates the left wing.
Why did he let the tories off the hook. He worked for CFB. His old buddy Mr Hart was recentely done for trying to start a coup in africa.

David Gladwin said...

Is it my imagination, Anonymous, or did you post exactly the same rubbish yesterday?

Why don't you come back when you've learned to type carefully, when you've resisted the urge to call everyone a "sickoe" and when you've remembered your name?

Anonymous said...

15:35 No sickoe.

David Gladwin said...

Wow, THAT was funny!

Have you got any more?

Or, like, a name, or anything?

Anonymous said...

16:07 My name is Bond Boo Bond 008

Paul Linford said...

Well, Mr Bond, do you think you could take your little campaign against Guido somewhere else? All future attempts to spam this blog with this nonsense will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

16:21 Who are you the man with the Golden head. .

David Gladwin said...

Good idea, Paul.

Perhaps Anony-Bond could land on Guido's private island, seduce the highest-ranking female officer in his private army and/or his bit of exotic fluff, and then escape as the secret base explodes...

Anonymous said...

16:35 Like in golden gun.

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

My only regret is that I couldn't do more to help the Nicaraguan Resistance than the little I did.

I am immensely proud to have been on the side of those fighting for freedom against a Marxist tyranny, rolling back the Cuban proxies for the Soviets was crucial in the struggle against the evil empire.

Don't forget my time in Angola when you next post extracts from my resume.

We won and the world is better for our victory.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I love it when, in order to hand over a briefcase of docs or cash, one must adopt a wide-eyed, innocent look first and not look at the person beside whom you've left the briefcase.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the main story....Darren Murphy always was an arrogant little ****, even when he was just a Newcastle councillor!

Anonymous said...

1:06 The people should know you are an extreme right winger. Nicaragua was a democracy, you are wrong to say it was part of the communist block. You had no write to supply those who wanted to kill democracy there. Did you win.
I have some questions for you
1) Did you support white rule in South Africa.
2) Nicaragua is now run by the sandies will you send guns there again?
3) Do you support the tory mayor being an adulterer when you think it wrong for a BBC journalist to be such.
I think you drop the phrase libertarian and admitt you are a tory. I dissagree with what Mr Marr did but he is a journalist, not a politician. Is he running to be mayor? Why is journalist supposed to have higher values than the mayor.

The Marr story is wrong efor amrr, my respect for him delcines, but everyone knows english babes cannot resist scottish real men aka the cool film highlander which is why she could not resist him. I doubt it was his fault she probably threw himself at him. While with Boris he probably threw himself at his ones, and they were squashed under ..

Anonymous said...

How can any babe resist Marr. It is not his fault. I am surprised he has no impreganated the netire bbc staff. Being a scottish man the english babes cannot resist his real man charms.

Anonymous said...

Marr is stud muffin for english women. It is not his fault he cannot stop getting english babes pregnant. The story is not how, why where, but why not, english babe + marr stuck in room together it is only a matter of time. Have you not seen the movie breaveheart?

David Gladwin said...

Paul

I thought that you were going to delete any more of this anonymmous rubbish.

Goodbye forever, nameless one!

Wishes

David

Anonymous said...

23:57 He who seeks those with no name seeks those he can see. It is wrong to support the BNP

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/threelinewhip/jan08/whoisguidoworkingfor.htm
He has been fouind out as a tory HQ worker