Craig oliver

A good read… but I don’t buy the plot

I’m writing this from the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham where the mood is buoyant, to put it mildly. Everyone seems delighted with the new captain and completely unfazed by the perilous waters ahead. If anyone is sad about the demise of David Cameron and some of his key lieutenants they’re not letting on. It’s a case of Le roi est mort, vive le roi! In my spare time I’ve been reading Craig Oliver’s referendum diary, Unleashing Demons, and reflecting on the events that led to Cameron’s demise. As a Remainer, Oliver is in no doubt about why his side lost: the mendacity of the Leave campaign. His lot were

Happy news at last in the Remain camp

This autumn, Sir Craig Oliver will publish his book Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of the EU Referendum. The tome promises to lift the lid on No.10’s failed efforts to keep the United Kingdom in the EU, with details of private conversations with everyone from Jeremy Corbyn to Barack Obama. However while the book is unlikely to make for an uplifting read — given Oliver described the end result as ‘walking across a path that appeared to be safety and then walking into quicksand’ — Mr S has reason to believe that the campaign wasn’t all pain and suffering for Cameron’s former director of communications. As well as being awarded a knighthood

Watch: John Kerry bangs his head on No.10 front door

When David Cameron hummed a bizarre tune last week as he walked through the door of No.10, there was much mystery about what the tune meant. Thankfully, his former communications director later cleared things up — revealing Cameron hummed because he was worried no one would open the door. Whilst everyone laughed at Dave at the time, it seems that he was actually onto something. Today John Kerry emerged from the famous black door this morning to give everyone a big wave. Alas the US Secretary of State hit a snag on his return. After the door failed to open on Kerry’s return, he hit his head on the closed door… and they say

PM’s porn crackdown replicates Tory EU campaign success

Further evidence of Number 10 finding a hard-headed campaigning zeal reaches this blog, in the form of a campaigning website called Protecting Our Children. It includes a petition ‘to support David Cameron’s call for ISPs to introduce Family Friendly Filters as soon as possible’, and facts about internet safety and what it is that the ‘the Prime Minister and ISPs have worked together to ensure’. If you can hear a faint sound of bells ringing as you browse this site, that’s because it is a carbon copy of the LetBritainDecide website. Tory MPs, including those who don’t always put their hand up to support the Prime Minister, are tweeting away

Change at Number 10

Gabby Bertin is one of David Cameron’s long-marchers; she has been with him since he won the leadership in 2005. Bertin has acted as his political spokeswoman for the last seven years, pushing the Cameron message and dealing calmly with the inevitable crises and mishaps. Few people know what Cameron thinks as well as Bertin does and are as prepared as her to tell him when he is going wrong. Cameron, for his part, values Bertin’s ability to, in his words, ‘see round corners.’ But in a fortnight’s time, she goes off on six months maternity leave. I understand that Susie Squire, currently running the press operation at CCHQ, will

Dre departing?

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

Spinner unspun

UPDATE: The below video has now been taken down from YouTube, but Guido has another copy here. Guido was first to this video of Downing St’s Director of Communications, Craig Oliver, remonstrating with the political correspondent Norman Smith about the tone of a BBC report — but it’s worth posting again here. Mr Oliver, it seems, didn’t realise that the camera was still running, showing the public more than they usually see of Westminster politics:

A good day to bury boring news

When a Labour press release landed in my inbox saying, ‘Ministers must come clean over attempt to bury bad news on strike day,’ I was expecting quite a story. But the reality of it turns out to be rather underwhelming. Labour’s accusation centers round a shift in direction on charging points for electric cars, not exactly a subject that I would expect to keep the government’s communications director Craig Oliver up at night. Ironically, the Department of Transport did publish a press release on the story yesterday and it even attempted to set up a newspaper interview to trail the announcement but this effort failed as the story wasn’t deemed

Losing control | 4 April 2011

The future of the Health and Social Care Bill is a test of Craig Oliver. For months there has been a steady drip of quiet critiques of the bill; but some Liberal Democrat grandees have suddenly broken cover and burst into open dissent. David Owen and Shirley Williams have called for the bill’s implementation to be slowed and for consultation to re-open. Both are especially concerned that private sector involvement will expose the NHS to competition law, which they believe would be detrimental to the NHS. As Williams put it: “If it looks as if it’s simply part of what’s becoming a private market we’ll be slap-bang in the middle

Making the case for high-speed rail

Today’s letter in the FT from 69 business leaders in support of high-speed rail is a great example of how you advance an argument. We have so often heard politicians announcing that a particular scheme will create jobs and promote growth that we have become inured to it. But the public does listen when a huge number of businesspeople come out in favour of something. The opponents of high-speed rail are well-organised and have hired one of the best companies in the business to make their case. But this letter moves the debate onto the territory where the government needs it to be: high-speed’s importance in creating jobs in the

The laddie is for turning

In opposition, one of David Cameron’s strengths was the speed at which he dumped bad ideas. But, now, he is starting to acquire a habit for U-Turns – especially those called for by minor celebs. We’ve seen Scottish school milk, NHS Direct, BookStart, school sport – and soon, I suspect, forests, World Service cuts and (the biggie) NHS reform. A depressing pattern is emerging: anyone with a decent two-day campaign and a splattering of celebrities can probably force a concession out of the government. I make this case in my News of the World column (£) today. Here is a summary of my main argument. 1. Cameron seems to be

Body blow for the Big Society

A major setback has befallen David Cameron’s Big Society. One of the four pilot schemes opened by Cameron as the ‘vanguard of the Big Society’ last autumn has fallen under a barrage of government cuts. Using unaffordable start-up costs as an excuse (although unidentified structural impediments were also mentioned), senior councillors of Labour controlled Liverpool Council have insisted that the scheme be curtailed immediately. Courtesy of Andrew Sparrow, the Liverpool Echo has the story. To dismiss the council’s decision as politically motivated would be transparent. Naturally, politics lurks behind the scenes; but this is an acute embarrassment for the Prime Minister. Despite a glamorous inauguration and two subsequent re-launches, the

Coulson’s replacement

Downing Street have announced that the BBC’s Craig Oliver will be Andy Coulson’s replacement. Oliver, who has been editor of both the Six and Ten o’clock news, will bring a broadcasting perspective to Downing Street. Former BBC colleagues stress that he knows how to tell a story in pictures and, in contrast, to Coulson is unlikely to ever become the story. Oliver, who is in his 40s, was never obviously political. He won’t provide the kind of counterweight to Steve Hilton that Andy Coulson did. But he will run an efficient ship. Some people are saying that the appointment shows that newspapers are less powerful politically than they used to