Diary: YouTube gold as BBC query sends Oliver round the twist
A superb video went up on YouTube yesterday, a revelation to anyone who has never witnessed a real life spin-doctor haranguing a journalist.
Craig Oliver, a former BBC executive who now spins for David Cameron, did not swear like Malcolm Tucker, but he was hectoring and unreasonable as he berated the BBC's Norman Smith for suggesting that newspaper headlines generated by the Leveson revelations are a problem for the Prime Minister.
He also wielded that favourite spin-doctor line of telling the reporter that he had gone over his head to complain to his boss – in this case Gavin Allen, editor of BBC Westminster. Norman Smith tried patiently to reply but that was not to be allowed. As he was in mid sentence, his assailant turned and marched back into 10 Downing Street.
One thing that puzzled some people who saw it was how anyone of Oliver's background could overlook the risk of being caught on camera in a place where the cameras never sleep. Actually, the spinners often go out and have words with the reporters in Downing Street, ignoring the cameras. "We don't usually expect the conversations to go up on YouTube," one explained.
After a few hours, the video was mysteriously taken down. Both the BBC and Downing Street deny being responsible for suppressing it. But the blogger Guido Fawkes did a service for broadcasting freedom by preserving a copy, which can still be watched and enjoyed.
Redcar shortlist is Mo laughing matter
The Middlesbrough Gazette reports that an unnamed member of the Redcar Labour Party has accused party organisation of insulting the memory of the town's most celebrated former MP, Mo Mowlam, by telling them that their next parliamentary candidate will have to be selected from an all-women shortlist.
"It takes away the reason she won the seat – she won it because she was the best person for the job," the anonymous complainant claims. "I am absolutely disgusted that the choice for the next MP for Redcar is being taken out of the hands of the local party members and being made by faceless technocrats in London."
It seems that in 25 years, things have turned a full circle. What happened in 1987 was that Redcar's sitting MP suddenly announced that he was pulling out, after the general election had been called. The party had to cobble together a shortlist very quickly, and came up with the names of three men who lived in the town. At this point a "faceless technocrat" from the party's national headquarters ruled that they couldn't have an all-male shortlist, and the name of Mo Mowlam, who had no previous link with Redcar, was added in haste.
Eric's all a-Twitter over Russian song
Among the many punters rooting for the Russian entrants in the Eurovision song contest was Eric Joyce, the two-fisted MP for Falkirk, who tweeted: "Vlad's Grans/Angels MUST win. OR YOU KNOW WHAT'S GONNA HAPPENSKI" And as several Tories well know, he is not a guy whose threats should be taken lightly.
Sir Peter Blake is finally on the make
The pop artist Sir Peter Blake tells the Radio Times that he is earning a secure living from printmaking and has three properties with a combined value of more than £1m, but also reveals that, as recently as 2007, there were bailiffs rapping at his door. "Five years ago I was totally broke. It was to do with tax," he said.
"I had no cash and no way to earn it. My credit cards were refused and bailiffs turned up at the house. I was very upset."
I'm not surprised he was upset. In 1967, he designed the iconic cover of The Beatles album, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for which his agent negotiated a flat fee of £200, with no royalties – something which, he says, he does not resent "any more".
Noble Elizabeth still Raikes in the cash
In these straitened times it was noble of the £151,000-a-year chief executive of Torbay Council, Elizabeth Raikes, to volunteer to step down so that someone else could be found to do the job for less money.
All that remained was to agree her pay off. She will receive £133,000, it was announced yesterday. What a sacrifice.
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