Friday, March 09, 2007

The LibDems Learn the Art of Spin

I wasn't going to write about this because it's never nice when someone loses their job, even if they have been incompetent, but when I saw the statement Chris Rennard put out about the LibDem Head of Press Mark Littelwood"moving on" from his job, I thought it must have been written by Peter Mandelson.
"Liberal Democrat Chief Executive Chris Rennard confirmed today that Mark Littlewood would be leaving his position as Head of Media in the next two months. “The party is very grateful to Mark for playing an invaluable role in the party in the last General Election campaign and in Menzies Campbell’s first year as Leader. During his time as Head of Media the party expanded considerably the size and effectiveness of its media team. Mark indicated to the party his intention to move on last November.” Mark Littlewood told his media team that he had “enjoyed working with the party over the last two and a half years”, and told them of his plans to undertake a number of freelance PR projects in the future. The Liberal Democrats are now seeking a new Head of Media who will report directly to Jonathan Oates,
the new Director of Policy & Communications who takes up his post on March 19th."

So we are really supposed to believe that his departure has nothing to do with his disastrous briefing of Ming's speech last weekend. Oh, pull the other one. The LibDems make great play of being the "honest" party. Don't make me laugh.

In the comments on THIS thread of Mark Littlewood, the editor of LibDem Voice Rob Fenwick questioned my evidence that Mark Littlewood was the spinner. He knew as well as I did who it was. Interestingly LibDem Voice is being quite coy about the whole thing. Ironically, they had a POST revelling in the Mundell/Mercer episode headlined IT'S NOT A GOOD AFTERNOON TO BE A TORY MP. Nor a LibDem Press officer, it would seem.

The fallout from all this is that Ming Campbell will be forced to reaffirm his commitment to PR at the LibDems Welsh Conference this weekend. Perhaps this indicates a minor victory for the left wingers in the LibDems, who have for a long time been outwitted by the Orange Bookers. The long terms effects, of course, is that the LibDems will now come under heavy questioning on both the question of PR and what they would do in a hung parliament. Ming's maxim of "maximum seats, maximum votes" was a good ploy while it lasted. But it will no longer hold water.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Confession time, folks, I...voted...[go on, son, be brave] voted for the Lib Dems in the last General Election.

There, that wasn't so hard was it ? Good to get these things out in the open.

It was over the Iraq war, and the fact that they were the only ones who stood up and were counted over their opposition to it.

I must concede I am absolutely clueless what their polices are now. Luckily I don't have that problem with the Tories as they don't have any...

So who to vote for now ? Well, I live in 'Red' Prawn Dimarolo's seat so until I move there is no point voting at all, as her majority is one of the biggest in the country..

p.s. what on earth is an 'Orange Booker' when it's at home ? Sounds like some sort of migrating bird..

Anonymous said...

Interesting briefing. Interesting too to note quite how many directors of communications, head of press etc the liberal democrats have gone through in the three and a half years Lord Rennard has been 'in charge' or should that be 'in control'?

Interesting too that the current view is that whilst not universally popular there is some significant sympathy from colleagues and senior Liberal Democrats for Mr Littlewood this morning. Since Sir Menzies's first disastrous PMQs he has been immensely careful to check facts and perceptions. On policy too given his background he has been careful to liaise one understands.

So one has to ask - did he only deliver a comment he was asked to deliver? Has the Teflon Chief Executive ridden again? There is a potent smell of scapegoat being cooked. Again. And to paraphrase Oscar Wilde - 'to lose one head of press is unfortunate, to lose half a dozen...', well it does beg a few questions.

Anonymous said...

I was at Liverpool University at the same time Chris Rennard was there. He had a bit of a reputation in student politics (even then) for being pretty underhand.

Wasn't there an issue re: MP David Alton's election expenses, when Chris Rennard was his agent?

Time to look up the case records, Iain...

Anonymous said...

Shh don't mention the expenses. I think there's probably a lot of people nervous in case anyone get's nosey and starts digging around in his past returns.

Any news from the Electoral Commission?

Chris Paul said...

On the Alton thing ... didn't he have a stunt mattress and a white van? Picking it out of back alleys for photo opps for years??

On the hat tip front 10:19 CP - you've missed this and link to Rennard's duplicitous statement. Sometime later Dale leaps into action.

Chris Paul said...

Orange Bookers anonymous 11:20 are the Lib Dem Tories. Ultra liberal on the economy. Laissez faire. Ultra liberal socially also. Liberty hall. Cameron is trying to get several of them to cross the floor. And Mr Dale and myself are relying on them getting one or more in 2007 to fulfill our predictions.

On the war ... please don't forget that 139 Labour MPs voted against ... and please have no doubt that on a free vote have the Libdemologists would have probably voted for. See Lord Ashdown and Lord "Bomb Iran and Syria First" garden for corroboration ... and wonder at their miraculous 26-26 split over hunting with dogs.

The Hitch said...

it's never nice when someone loses their job,

OOOH I dont know about that , I can think of hundreds of people in a certain place that I would love to see on the dole.

Ralph said...

They also seem to have learnt the art of burying embarrassing news.

James said...

To be fair, this isn't spin so much as it is carefully worded. Rennard doesn't just have to be careful about what he says for political reasons but because he probably doesn't want to be hauled up in front of an employment tribunal.

How many press releases about staff resignations (as distinct from politicians) from ANY organisations have you read that explicitly mention the elephant in the room?

Anonymous said...

well if that's the case James it would be a first for him. Sensitivity towards staff is not something he's renowned for.

John Sandell said...

"Mark indicated to the party his intention to move on last November... The Liberal Democrats are now seeking a new Head of Media"

Shouldn't they have been recruiting before now? Like, last November?

Anonymous said...

Yes but then they probably have someone in mind. Like when they appointed Littlewood. And most others.

Why recruit formally when you've got a mate who is between jobs?

Chris Paul said...

They could try Cllr John Leech MP who only has two jobs currently and is a dab hand at lying to the press, the people and himself.

Ken said...

Because having an MP resign over racism, and another one at the heart of a storm for calling Scotland's Tory organisation useless is so obviously equivalent to having an incompetent PR director in the eyes of the country. Yes, the LibDems are damaged by the Harrogate debacle. But you live on a different planet if you think that a PR director resigning is equivalently newsworthy to the Mercer/Mundell incidents.

Neil Craig said...

I don't see how this is a defeat for the Orahge bookers. The point about this mess is that Ming had & still has, committed to a coalition only with Labour & on what can only be called remarkably mild terms, not insisting in PR.

To the extent that this firing moves them slightly back from this position it is a victory for the non-socialists.

If you define the Orange bookers as tending towards classic economic & social liberalism (Iain recently said that one of them was more free marketish than Cameron's Tories) I cannot see any of them wanting to join a Tory party opposed to PR since the only real argument for FTPT is that it gives strong government - not a concept particularly attractive to classic liberals or most libertarians.

Anonymous said...

Ken

Or you could ask what's worse, a party leader who deal with their internal difficulties and root out the real cause of their problems or one who ignores the very large problem staring them across the board table?

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone even bothering to THINK about the Lib Dems? They will never get anywhere. EVER.Please don't give me a lesson in politics telling me how they are a force etc etc. They will never get ANYWHERE. In a hundred years we will still be seeing them come third. Why are we not trying to get to the truth about Lord Levy and his merry band of *********?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous in Britol South,

You can stil vote Lib Dem. We are only 10,000 behind unseating her and are the clear challenger. We have a good candidate, Cllr Mark Wright.
All the best,
Cllr Tim Kent
South Bristol

Anonymous said...

Working in Cowley Street is never a happy experience. Our new director of policy is apparently an old pal of Ed (sorry...Edward!) Davey. Nobody works here because they are the best for the job, it just depends who you know.

hg said...

PR is off the wish list because it's programmed in - European Union elections and devolved region elections already use it (and if Brown weasels the prime ministership he'll activate elections for all the regional assemblies). Lots of dosh swilling about in those regional groupings too, and they drain other local authorities of power. PR and localism, a LibDem dream.

Voting LibDem doesn't just support BrownLabour; it helps undo the UK constitution too. But that's what LDs have sought always, the end of single-member constituencies and first past the post voting, and direct choosing by the electorate of the party whose manifesto tells what they're voting for.

Simon Wilson said...

I am sorry Iain but you are wrong on this. i know mark Littlewood well and it had always been his intention to leave this job.

Iain Dale said...

Simon, well, if so, why wasn't it announced before now? Seems a bit of a coincidence that it is announced after he committed a huge howler, wouldn't you say?