Mr Steerpike is now available weekly in the magazine. This one’s been getting them talking today:
It’s a hat-trick! Word reaches me that Dave may be about to lose his third spin doctor in a row. First Andy Coulson left to spend more time with his Fingertip Guide to the Criminal Law. Then Steve Hilton legged it to California. Now Craig Oliver, Coulson’s replacement, is said to be heading for the chop.
Mr Oliver, once a BBC news chief, enjoys the rare distinction of being completely unknown to the general public and his friends tell me he’s been doing a superb job as the PM’s communications tsar. But Andrew Mitchell changed all that. A few blurted expletives at the porter’s lodge turned into a two-week fiasco for the Tory party so a senior publicist had to take the heat.
Mr Oliver, married to BBC news babe Joanna Gosling, dislikes being thought of as an establishment figure. To flaunt his street credentials he prefers to work with gangsta tunes fed directly into his brain though his beloved set of Dr Dre High-Definition Headphones. These glamorous hearing aids (which retail for £249.99, although they were available more cheaply during the riots) have earned him the nickname Craig Dre. But dismissal might yet be the making of ‘the No. 10 rapper’. He’s been seen scribbling down notes and quotes from top politicians in an unofficial diary. And there’ll be no shortage of bidders for his account of life inside the coalition. One ambitious publisher has already pencilled in next year’s Tory conference for the launch date.
Meanwhile, the hunt for yet another spin doctor to Downing Street is said to be a little sluggish. ‘They’ll probably make do with some hack from the tabloids,’ my source tells me. ‘It’s only a temporary position, after all.’
If he does leave after less than two years he will forever be a ‘Craig Oliver, the failed former director of government communications’.