War room with rapid response
Saturday 18 May 1996
The first floor of the high-rise block has been taken over by a huge open-plan "war room", modelled on Bill Clinton's Little Rock, Arkansas, HQ in the 1992 US presidential election campaign. The party already has a "flexible, task-force-based" campaigning operation, which combines press office, "instant rebuttal unit" for responding quickly to opponents' propaganda, campaign and policy departments.
By the time of the election campaign, the media centre will accommodate about 150 people, including staff from leading politicians' offices. Peter Mandelson, head of the election campaign team, already has an office there - hence the name.
Tony Blair and John Prescott were also intended to be based there during the campaign, although an official said a final decision had not been made. (After the dissolution of Parliament, politicians cease to be MPs and no longer have access to the Palace of Westminster - although a dispensation has been made for opposition party leaders in the past.)
Much has been made of the high-tech computer systems at the centre, especially the powerful database called Excalibur. When the Scott report on arms to Iraq was published, all 1,800 pages were scanned into the system in five hours, to make it easier to find the key quotes.
The system has all Labour politicians' recent speeches, statements and policy documents on it, as much Tory material as is consistent with copyright laws, and is connected to the Internet. And the computer terminals have screen-savers which scroll messages including: "New Britain. New Labour"; "Young Country. Stakeholder Economy."
The centre includes a converted mini-cinema on the ground floor, refurbished as a news conference venue with a fibre-optic cable link to the Westminster bases of the BBC, ITN and Sky.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
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