PM finds his man
The prime minister has found his man.
Just days after Andy Coulson walked out of Downing Street for the last time his replacement has been appointed.
The name of the new Director of Government Communications will be unknown by most, come as a surprise to many and a shock to those who've worked with him for many years.
It is a senior executive at BBC News who will lead efforts to sell David Cameron, the coalition and the Conservative Party to the country. His name is Craig Oliver.
Craig is someone I have worked closely with at both the BBC and ITV. He masterminded the BBC's 2010 general election results programme after several years editing both the BBC News at Six and News at 10. Five years earlier he had been at the helm for ITV News's 2005 General Election coverage. A former ITN trainee he edited ITV's early evening news after working for both Channel Four and Five News.
I am one of those shocked and yet not altogether surprised by Craig Oliver's switch from being poacher to becoming gamekeeper. Hard though this may be to believe I had no inkling of his political views in all the years I worked with him. What I do remember is how interested and intrigued he was by David Cameron's early efforts to re-shape the Conservative Party. Whilst others were scathing about that trip with the huskies or the "hug a hoodie" speech Craig thought they mattered as more than mere spin.
Perhaps that was what Andy Coulson remembered when he was forced to resign from his job. Last week Coulson stunned Oliver by phoning to say that he was his natural successor. The call came at an awkward time - Oliver had only just been involved in announcing painful and controversial cuts at the BBC World Service in his current job as Controller of English at BBC Global News.
Coulson persuaded Oliver to meet the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Ed Llewelyn to discuss what the job might entail. That meeting led to others - a weekend trip to George Osborne's West London home and then onto Chequers to meet David Cameron himself. They liked what they saw and heard. After a meeting with Nick Clegg this morning the decision was sealed.
The Tories hope that Oliver, like Coulson, will help craft messages that can be clearly understood, will lead and manage a team bringing together not just civil servants and party propagandists but staff from two rival parties and will be privately forceful but publicly discreet.
Unlike Coulson he offers no links to or first hand knowledge of the press and is no Essex Boy but, like him and unlike many on Team Cameron, he went to a comprehensive and has never been a member of or involved in any political party.
I think he has taken the job for the same reasons as his predecessor. Perhaps for the same reason another hack - The Times's Tom Baldwin - recently signed up for Ed Miliband. He wants to be able to look back and say that he was more than a mere spectator as history unfolded.