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PM finds his man

Nick Robinson | 16:00 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The prime minister has found his man.

Craig Oliver

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.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    "I am one of those shocked and yet not altogether suprised by Craig Oliver's switch from being poacher to becoming gamekeeper."

    Hmmm.

    Probably much scratching of heads in the News Department then in White City, one of your own going Vichy on you.

    Maybe its a sign of the times....

  • Comment number 2.

    Okay Nick, fair enough, Craig Oliver. I'll look out for him and I'll let you know what I think (of him) in due course, once he's made a few grave errors of judgement.

  • Comment number 3.

    A likeable Director of Comms? Wow.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why the preoccupation with the man's school ? This sounds like a wee bit of snobbery in reverse, " he isn't from Essex, didn't go to Eton " god help us, what's the world coming to. The fact that he worked for the BBC obviously didn't put them off, though it probably should have , given the organisation's previous when it comes to political level handedness.

  • Comment number 5.

    This confirms my long-held suspicion that the BBC is a nest of Tory sympathisers.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick,
    If he can persuade you to give the Tories even a half-way fair hearing and if he can persuade his ex-colleagues to stop using loaded words all the time when pretending to report the news he will have earned his keep.

  • Comment number 7.

    I worked with Craig at the BBC, ITN, and met socially when I moved into PR.
    Yes Craig didn't go to Eton or Oxbridge but he has a great brain, is strategic, knows how to deal with a wide variety of people, and most of all isn't from a daily newspaper. I think Craig's broadcast experience and his lack of 'baggage' will really help him maintain current relationships and develop new ones.He has worked with all the key TV political producers and reporters so will be able to shape his relationships with them. He carries a lot of respect in the media. And most importantly he didn't knife his way to the top. It was talent and hard work.

  • Comment number 8.

    But the BBC is full of lefties, the Tories said so?!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    And I though that Alistair Campbell was a dead cert for the job .....

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm surprised it's not you Nick.

  • Comment number 11.

    Your post mentions that Oliver's job will be to "lead efforts to sell David Cameron, the coalition and the Conservative Party to the country."

    Now, I hope that I am not being hopelessly naive, but surely our political system has reached a pretty bizarre state of affairs if one of our most highly-respected journalists sees nothing unusual in a public official being paid to promote a political party!

    Has it been going on for years? Well, of course. But rarely have I seen the fact reported in such a matter-of-fact way, as though it is entirely normal and not at all noteworthy.

  • Comment number 12.

    7 Tagggar1234

    Were you also Best Man at his wedding? You being in PR and all that, who would have guessed. Anyway, if he comes with your recommendation, good enough for me. Looks an all round diamond geezer and I bet he even helps out with the kids homework. Perfect choice!

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick says "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".
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    It would help if the ConDems actually had a clear vision in the first place apart from short term slash & burn at any cost, but they don’t.
    It really doesn’t matter how good Craig Oliver is; he will find it difficult to polish up the single track message of this one trick pony Government.

    Meanwhile, Vince Cable is rejecting criticism of the ConDem’s policies by the CBI; obviously they aren’t getting the message either, so Oliver must try harder than his predecessor (deep sigh).

  • Comment number 14.

    re #7
    A real nice one, especially in a place where things can get a bit nasty at times.

    Although it has been a quietish day on NR's Blog, there has been some good debate and opportunity for humour. Your sincere testimony has further raised the tone.

    Thanks for your post.

  • Comment number 15.

    If someone takes a job working for say, Mcdonalds, does that mean they have to like them? No surprise that someone from the BBC would be shocked that anyone would leave them to join the enemy though.

  • Comment number 16.

    "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."

    ----

    Above comment speaks volumes about the BBC. Rather than impartiality, the BBC lefties' colours are shown. No wonder many are shocked, a non-leftie at the BBC ~ how did that happen?!

  • Comment number 17.

    Our Nick says that a possible motivation for this fellow, Craig Oliver, taing the job is that he wants to be able to look back and say that he was more than a mere spectator as history unfolded.

    Well, Peggy Noonan really was there at the revolution and played a crucial role but somehow, with the best will in the world, I don't think that it will quite turn out like that here in our England.

    Oliver could start by attempting to bring some probity into what Government does by helping to craft messages that are intrinsically honest and refusing to spin anything else - that would be excellent.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hopefully lord snooty has done a better job of the vetting process than last time.

  • Comment number 19.

    G'day Mr Outrage: just to let you know that we lefties always think that the BBC is rather right-wing. Maybe it's actually somewhere in the middle?

  • Comment number 20.


    7. At 5:28pm on 02 Feb 2011, taggart1234 wrote:
    I worked with Craig at the BBC, ITN, and met socially when I moved into PR.
    Yes Craig didn't go to Eton or Oxbridge but he has a great brain, is strategic, knows how to deal with a wide variety of people, and most of all isn't from a daily newspaper. I think Craig's broadcast experience and his lack of 'baggage' will really help him maintain current relationships and develop new ones.He has worked with all the key TV political producers and reporters so will be able to shape his relationships with them. He carries a lot of respect in the media. And most importantly he didn't knife his way to the top. It was talent and hard work.
    ---------------------------------------------
    For me it matters very little what his credentials are. Its an impossible job, that is the job of sugar-coating huge cuts and austerity. While at the same time its incredible comfort for the minority who don’t have to worry about their finances. I can tell you, on the doorsteps, the lib dems are finished, and people are looking to labour again. Forget the nightmare that many are living at the moment. The cuts are yet to bite. And when they see their child’s schools run-down portacabin not being replaced, the long queue at a& e and delays in treatment, rising crime, their offspring not being able to find work and the hell of redundancy, then they will see the true nature of tory policy. Of course they will also be able to see how the austerity isn’t evenly spread, not even near and how actually the tories are looking after their own. Then for those who didnt already know, the choices that were made by this coalition and the resulting aftermath will be shinning bright like a beacon for all to see. And under that bright light will be a banner, reading “same old tories, destroying communities"

  • Comment number 21.

    The significance of the appointment is he`s not Andy Coulson.He`s clean, and this is of great importance as new cases against the press are thrown up daily.

    Phone tapping remains the real story which the new appointment won`t bury.This week "The Economist" commented that in the triangle of intrigue involving the Prime Ministere`s aide,the Metropolitan police and NOTW, "The conspiracy theorists might just have a point."
    It concludes,"The hacking scandal matters because it makes it seem that in modern Britain some people are above the law,and others are content for them to be so."



  • Comment number 22.

    15. At 6:22pm on 02 Feb 2011, sandy winder wrote:
    "If someone takes a job working for say, Mcdonalds, does that mean they have to like them? No surprise that someone from the BBC would be shocked that anyone would leave them to join the enemy though."

    Institutions may be neutral,individuals rarely are.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hard though this may be to believe I had no inkling of his political views in all the years I worked with him.

    At least we don't have to guess at Nick's views.

  • Comment number 24.

    #19 Balzac

    The BBC in Scotland do appear to be rather reluctant reporting the previous Labour Governments mistruths regarding their dealings with Gaddaffi over Megrahi.

    But its now obvious that Labour are more right wing than the tories.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nick Robinson wrote:
    I am one of those shocked and yet not altogether surprised …


    >>

    Interesting distinction. I'm not altogether sure I understand it, although I'm certain I do.

  • Comment number 26.

    Taggart @ 7

    "I worked with Craig at the BBC, ITN, and met socially when I moved into PR.
    "

    Which channel number is PR on freeview, I can't find it anywhere - dont tell me its shorthand for CamPRTV?

    Seriously though, thanks for letting us all know what a great guy Craig Oliver is - on that basis I'm going to leave my voicemail pin as 2222.

  • Comment number 27.

    20 lefty11

    Forget the nightmare that many are living at the moment. The cuts are yet to bite. And when they see their child’s schools run-down portacabin not being replaced, the long queue at a& e and delays in treatment, rising crime, their offspring not being able to find work and the hell of redundancy, then they will see the true nature of tory policy. Of course they will also be able to see how the austerity isn’t evenly spread, not even near and how actually the tories are looking after their own. Then for those who didnt already know, the choices that were made by this coalition and the resulting aftermath will be shinning bright like a beacon for all to see. And under that bright light will be a banner, reading “same old tories, destroying communities

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    ...the children weeping as small animals are killed for food..

  • Comment number 28.

    'Hard though this may be to believe I had no inkling of his political views in all the years I worked with him'

    So if you didn't know his political views then why would it be a shock ? It would only be a shock if you assumed he was lefty liberal, and why on earth would you assume that ?

  • Comment number 29.

    Lefty11

    'And under that bright light will be a banner, reading “same old tories, destroying communities"'

    What about the LibDems ? What fantasy are you going to concoct for their involvement ?

  • Comment number 30.

    He got the job instead of you because he knows how to curb his public enthusiasm for his young lords and masters.

  • Comment number 31.

    Selvadio 30

    If Nick had got the job that really WOULD have been a shock ;)

  • Comment number 32.

    "I worked with Craig at the BBC, ITN, and met socially when I moved into PR"

    Always worth remembering that in the medical world, which still uses plenty of Latin, PR means per rectum. Which pretty much sums up most public relations, I think.

  • Comment number 33.

    Surely further proof that Cameron is a liberal. Why else would he have such an easy ride from the bbc since becoming conservative leader?

  • Comment number 34.

    Ah! We have a new Director of the Government Ministry of Propoganda. Hark! Is that the sound of jackboots?

  • Comment number 35.

    Thanks for all the info Nick. Maybe he just might persuade you to give the Coalition Gov a chance because up to now you seem to doubt every new piece of proposed legislation.

  • Comment number 36.

    So how was this job not advertised?

  • Comment number 37.

    "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."

    What an appropriate title - he doesn't even need to change it in his new job.

  • Comment number 38.

    Fascinating how the prejudiced can spin anything their way.
    1. The one thing I've noticed over the years is that Nick gives ALL Governments a hard time - and scepticism about what a Government says & does is perfectly proper. I realise some of you would rather he just applauded whatever a Conservative government did, but bashed away at a Labour one, but I'd rather have the even-handed scepticism.
    2. I think this must derail the oft-touted allegation often made by contributors to HYS, that the BBC is full of Labour party supporters. If it has a problem, it's that it's full of people who are or who have become part of a metropolitan elite who have little in common with many of the rest of us. But then, given some of the neo-racist, intolerant, bigoted, xenophobic views expressed by the self-proclaimed "common man" on HYS/BBC blogs, I know where I'd rather they stood.

  • Comment number 39.

    20

    And under every one of lefty's posts, sure as eggs are eggs, will be another one describing his offerings thus:

    "same old tired, regurgitated, scaremongering hyperbole that most of us are sick to the back teeth of hearing, like old scratched vynil."

  • Comment number 40.



    27. AS71
    ...the children weeping as small animals are killed for food..
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Id say that your comment was merely mockery and showing complete disregard to the plight of many in this country. Or in other words, your politics suits your ignorance.


    29. jobsagoodin

    What about the LibDems ? What fantasy are you going to concoct for their involvement ?
    -----------------------------------
    I don’t need to concoct anything. Im hearing it loud an clear from the horses mouth ie. Ordinary people. As opposed to believing what I read in the daily mail and being told what public opinion is from a discredited rightwing rag.
    Should try it jobs. Rather than the safety of these blogs, why not join a party and be pro-active. Afraid of what the public might say to your face...eyeball to eyeball ????
    Nah. Easier on here isn’t it. No consequences and way away from the reality of the coal face. My guess is jobs, that once you had one door slammed in your face, you would be back in the bima sharpish, back off home with your tail between your legs.

  • Comment number 41.


    39. At 10:37pm on 02 Feb 2011, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    20

    And under every one of lefty's posts, sure as eggs are eggs, will be another one describing his offerings thus:

    "same old tired, regurgitated, scaremongering hyperbole that most of us are sick to the back teeth of hearing, like old scratched vynil."

    -------------------------------------

    Yes im sure you are much more in-tune with the UK public mood living and working over there in Belgium (flying the flag for UKIP)..... lmao.


    ps. you wrote.........
    "same old tired, regurgitated, scaremongering hyperbole that most of us are sick to the back teeth of hearing, like old scratched vynil."
    --------------------
    as opposed to your enlightened, forward thinking, fresh, non repetitious and intelligent offerings on here.
    lol
    roll eyes.

  • Comment number 42.

    40 lefty11

    Id say that your comment was merely mockery and showing complete disregard to the plight of many in this country. Or in other words, your politics suits your ignorance.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Pastiche is the word you are looking for, allow yourself a little smile once in a while!

  • Comment number 43.

    is that a mug-shot?

  • Comment number 44.

    A member of the BBC's political team becoming a Tory front-man? How can you be surprised- anyone who has seen the easy ride the Tories have had from the BBC over the last couple of decades must know where the BBC political team's allegiances lie! Just look at what has happened to Newsnight! Look at Question time- a presenter who constantly interrupts Labour or pro-labour speakers and listens supinely to the witterings of the Tories. The regular political programme is hosted by an ex Rupert Murdoch apologist and a former Thatcherite MP! Even the Website has reduced 'Have your say...' to bland questions about trivial stories and is so heavily censored by the secretive monitoring panel as to be hardly a bastion of free speech and free comment! (I expect to find this comment has been censored by the way.)

  • Comment number 45.

    I can only assume that most of your "shock" came from the fact that you were overlooked for the position in favour of someone else. I guess life isn't always fair Nick. Better luck next time.

  • Comment number 46.

    Why didn't you go for the job, Nick?

    Ex-Bullingdon Tory like you would fit right in!

  • Comment number 47.

    Who in their right mind, working at the 'Peoples Broadcasting Republic', would reveal they were anything other than supporters of the Labour Party? It would be career suicide at the very least.

  • Comment number 48.

    Nick, I'm disappointed. I think you are one of the best political commentators around at the moment but this sounds like sour grapes.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    "I think he has taken the job for the same reasons as his predecessor. Perhaps for the same reason another hack ... He wants to be able to look back and say that he was more than a mere spectator as history unfolded."

    I think he has taken the job because - whilst the BBC goes through uncertain times and great austerity cuts - his new job pays out £140K per annum, comes with a nice little pension and fringe benefits!

  • Comment number 51.

    A good choice.

    The reason he got the job is that he speaks "BBC".

    Despite all the protestations from the Daily Mirror and the Guardian and the Indy, the real media monopoly in this country is the Beeb - not News International. It dwarfs NI, by a huge degree...

    And the BBC has its own left-of-centre liberal (small l) discourse and mindset; it's statist, corporatist and all about 'funding'; none of the above have any relevance if you work in the private sector like most of the world. The BBC is not about results or quality, it's about 'positioning', nation building, proselytising and preaching (global warming, big government, supra-nationalism (EU, UN, etc.), top-down control, etc.

    It's so leftist that it regards the mainstream Tory party as shockingly right wing... Bob Crowe is a loveable rogue on 'Any Questions', whereas Nick Griffin (surely the mirror image equivalent) is the devil incarnate and simply too far right to be given airtime.

    Craig Oliver knows how the Beeb thinks, and will be able to feed 'the corporation' his message in a form it can digest. The fact that so many Beeboids are shocked that he could possibly go and work for a slightly right of centre (coalition) government demonstrates the truth of my point precisely.

  • Comment number 52.

    lefty11 wrote:

    7. At 5:28pm on 02 Feb 2011, taggart1234 wrote:
    I worked with Craig at the BBC, ITN, and met socially when I moved into PR.
    Yes Craig didn't go to Eton or Oxbridge but he has a great brain, is strategic, knows how to deal with a wide variety of people, and most of all isn't from a daily newspaper. I think Craig's broadcast experience and his lack of 'baggage' will really help him maintain current relationships and develop new ones.He has worked with all the key TV political producers and reporters so will be able to shape his relationships with them. He carries a lot of respect in the media. And most importantly he didn't knife his way to the top. It was talent and hard work.
    ---------------------------------------------
    For me it matters very little what his credentials are. Its an impossible job, that is the job of sugar-coating huge cuts and austerity. While at the same time its incredible comfort for the minority who don’t have to worry about their finances. I can tell you, on the doorsteps, the lib dems are finished, and people are looking to labour again. Forget the nightmare that many are living at the moment. The cuts are yet to bite. And when they see their child’s schools run-down portacabin not being replaced, the long queue at a& e and delays in treatment, rising crime, their offspring not being able to find work and the hell of redundancy, then they will see the true nature of tory policy. Of course they will also be able to see how the austerity isn’t evenly spread, not even near and how actually the tories are looking after their own. Then for those who didnt already know, the choices that were made by this coalition and the resulting aftermath will be shinning bright like a beacon for all to see. And under that bright light will be a banner, reading “same old tories, destroying communities"

  • Comment number 53.

    lefty11 wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------
    For me it matters very little what his credentials are. Its an impossible job, that is the job of sugar-coating huge cuts and austerity. While at the same time its incredible comfort for the minority who don’t have to worry about their finances. I can tell you, on the doorsteps, the lib dems are finished, and people are looking to labour again. Forget the nightmare that many are living at the moment. The cuts are yet to bite. And when they see their child’s schools run-down portacabin not being replaced, the long queue at a& e and delays in treatment, rising crime, their offspring not being able to find work and the hell of redundancy, then they will see the true nature of tory policy. Of course they will also be able to see how the austerity isn’t evenly spread, not even near and how actually the tories are looking after their own. Then for those who didnt already know, the choices that were made by this coalition and the resulting aftermath will be shinning bright like a beacon for all to see. And under that bright light will be a banner, reading “same old tories, destroying communities"
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    It is naive to think Labour will not make cuts.

    Remember they are a political party too and the world has changed in the short time since they were in. To revive spending on the nations credit card as they did, would turn us into economic outcasts with interest charged appropriately.

    Your dream days have gone.

  • Comment number 54.


    53. At 04:05am on 03 Feb 2011, scot01

    It is naive to think Labour will not make cuts.

    Remember they are a political party too and the world has changed in the short time since they were in. To revive spending on the nations credit card as they did, would turn us into economic outcasts with interest charged appropriately.

    Your dream days have gone.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Nothing to do with what I said. Its not about cut or not cut, its about how hard, where and how fast. And its no dream that these cuts will disproportionately affect those who can least afford it worst.
    A sort of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. Im sure you would understand it more if you were say, on minimum wage and working your backside off, just for the privilege to float backwards. Like I said, hell of a lot of people going to buckle under the strain (those who haven’t already), and a few who are still coining it in unaffected (like those who caused the banking crisis and those now making policy). Its nothing more than an absolute bare faced mugging of working class people and an ideological attack on public services.
    “we are all in this together” more like two fingers up and another slap in the face to low income earners and the most vulnerable. And of course, a hatchet job to the services these people use and rely on.

  • Comment number 55.

    What a surprise - a scot

    He was previously BBC Global Head of English and he can't even speak the language properly

    I hope people realise soon what is happening in the BBC and in politics. If they don't realise soon then we're all doomed, we're all doomed ...

  • Comment number 56.

    27#

    "children weeping as small animals are killed for food..."

    Brilliant, isnt it? Twenty first century Britain and I've never, hand on heart seen anything painting so graphically foreboding a picture. I tell you AS, he's wasted writing on here (in both senses of the phrase), he's surely missed his vocation - such apocalyptic visions could have come straight from a cross between Monty Python's "The Meaning Of Life - The Third World... Yorkshire...." and The Killing Fields.

    I tell you, Oliver Stone would give his eye teeth for this kind of writing. Lefty certainly has a er... talent.

    However...

    Problem is when you paint pictures with words that are darker and darker all the time and in the end the shroud of darkness fails to fall over the nation, you end up looking like one of those chaps who used to wander around Oxford Street with a sandwich board that said "The End Of The World Is Nigh".

    What happened to them all? Did they merely get new jobs with new sandwich boards that now point towards retail units that are between occupiers down sidestreets that now say "Golf Sale"?

    Or did the world really end? Did the mountains crumble into the sea, were men and beasts really smitten with ulcers? Just who was the scarlet beast with the seven heads and ten horns?

    Did I miss it? Was I out of the country that day?

    Come to think of it, maybe he does have something else in common with the biblical Seer, specifically a fanciful taste for the grotesque. Perhaps he's probably a lay preacher - Revelations is an inexhaustible quarry in which he can dig for invective to throw at his equivalent of the Caesars (ie, the tories). As with most of the Abrahamic organised religions, it is seized on by the weak minded as a spiritual prop or as a source of blame for their own misfortunes.

  • Comment number 57.

    I am keen to see how we are communicated to on the saga that got him the job in the first instance.

    I still need to understand more on this issue. People are now pursuing legal action to find out if they were targetted, and I guess they are doing this in order to find out what was recorded or in the possession of NOTW or SY. Will doing that then make the documents public? You see, I am more interested to know what NOTW had, and what they chose to publish or chose to "bury" - this must have more political mileage than just who was recorded, and that will cause exciting debate and accusations to fly.

  • Comment number 58.

    51 Space 51

    "It's so leftist that it regards the mainstream Tory party as shockingly right wing... Bob Crowe is a loveable rogue on 'Any Questions', whereas Nick Griffin (surely the mirror image equivalent) is the devil incarnate and simply too far right to be given airtime.
    Craig Oliver knows how the Beeb thinks, and will be able to feed 'the corporation' his message in a form it can digest. The fact that so many Beeboids are shocked that he could possibly go and work for a slightly right of centre (coalition) government demonstrates the truth of my point precisely."


    A common misconception that the BBC is "Left wing" whatever that phrase means? Meterosexual?,London postcodes?,length of hair?.While its history shows it`s anything but.

    The political complexion of the BBC is seen early on with the General Strike of 1926.Churchill wanted to take over the infant corporation,Baldwin resisted this, but the government was enabled to broadcast messages and for Baldwin to address the nation.

    Here is the memorandum sent to BBC staff on the eve of the strike.Note the particular intepretation of impartiality:-

    "To try to convey to the minds of the people generally that the prolongation of the general stoppage is the one sure process calculated to reduce wages and the standards of living which it is the avowed endeavour of the Trade Unions to maintain and improve; and to try to make it clear that the sooner the General Strike is satisfactorily terminated the better for wage earners in all parts of the country."
    The memo concluded that:"As the Government are sure that they are right both on the facts of the dispute and on the constitutional issues, any steps which we may take to communicate the truth dispassionately should be to the advantage of the Government."

    Forward to 1968 and the surge of protest in London against the Vietnam war,the televising of this monitored by the Media Research Group,Leicester University.Jim Halloran and his team found a consistent emphasis on a small breakaway minority who broke a few windows and caused minor damage,the purpose of the mass demonstration subverted by an undue emphasis on violence and disaster.
    A similar hijacking of theme and content was seen in the student demo`s against the hike in tuition fees,serious purpose subverted by journalistic values.

    To describe slanted news and misingformation,(by ommission), as left wing gives socialism a bad name."Balance and impartiality" means within the limits of the prevailing consensus which is invariably right of centre on most issues.

    Finally the press is right wing,why do we never hear a chorus od denunciation against their biases?

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    I wonder how many of the naysayers here would turn down the job themselves if offered it?

    Very few, I suspect.

    You can hardly begrudge the guy the opportunity to step into a position of significant power and further his career. Unless he was a full paid up card-carrying Labour party member then it's not "selling out".

  • Comment number 61.

    This is at least squaring up to reality. Most of the BBC news team spends its life trying to govern the country through their personal broadcasting service.

    Rod Liddle would have been the ideal choice. I bet he turned it down.

  • Comment number 62.

    The words "poacher" and "gamekeeper" are the wrong way round, since the role of the political press is to shine a light on government. It should read "Craig Oliver's switch from being gamekeeper to becoming poacher".

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    Comparing 1926 and 2010 is hardly like with like though is it Bryhers? Differing social values, differing perceptions, different political climates and most notably a different view taken of the fourth estate by the political classes, especially in the twenty four hour news cycle climate that prevails today, which Mr Baldwin certainly didnt have to deal with.

    Why do we not hear a chorus of denunciation against the "right wing press?"

    You hear it on here all the time. Murdoch being slagged off (except when he supported His Royal Tonyness for ten years), the Mail being pilloried on a daily basis, the Express not even being acknowledged as contributing anything to the political debate - there is never any shortage of criticism of the mainstream media on here. In fact, its quite vociferous. The names Campbell, McGuire, GMG et al do seem very curious by their absence from these polemics though, even though it is a fact that their behaviour has shown that they are all as bad as each other, no matter who'se flags they rally around.

  • Comment number 65.

    "2. At 4:35pm on 02 Feb 2011, sagamix wrote:
    Okay Nick, fair enough, Craig Oliver. I'll look out for him and I'll let you know what I think (of him) in due course"

    yeah, I'm sure Nick, Craig, David Camreron will all wait with interest to find out what your opinion is.

    For the rest of us, the interest will be limited to which order you decide to trot out your tired, old, already written cliches.

    let's hope Craig didn't go to Eton, eh?

  • Comment number 66.

    58 - A defence of allegations of current-day left wing bias in the BBC based on events in 1926 and 1968?

    Even you must realise that's absurd.

    How about arguing that the modern BBC is too stuffy because in the 1930s radio announcers were required to wear jacket and tie?

    The Daily Mirror supported Oswald Mosley in the 1930s. Does that mean it's a fascist mouthpiece today?

  • Comment number 67.

    Craig Oliver didn't go to Eton, Andy (65), Nick tell us that. Good news at first sight but I'm wondering if there may be communication problems with his employer, least till he's learnt the language.

  • Comment number 68.

    58. bryhers

    "A common misconception that the BBC is "Left wing" whatever that phrase means? Meterosexual?,London postcodes?,length of hair?.While its history shows it`s anything but."

    Not according to its present DG, bryhers.
    As has been posted on here before, Mark Thompson said in an interview with the New Statesman (September 2010) that when he "joined 30 years ago... there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people's personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the left. The organisation did struggle then with impartiality."
    He then went on to say, "There is [now] much less overt tribalism among the young journalists who work for the BBC. It is like the New Statesman, which used to be various shades of soft and hard left and is now more technocratic."

    Not sure about you bryers, but I don't think the NS would call itself right wing or even like to be seen as centrist.

    But... as the subject of this blog shows, as do the differing perceptions of its posters, there are varying shades of political opinions represented within the BBC. If the BBC does exhibit a more left tendency that's no bad thing, as a counterweight to the right wing Murdoch press. I just don't think it should be publicly funded to have a view, going beyond reporting the news as it does.

    Ultimately I'm against any form of state funded media. Goes against the concept of a 'free' press.

  • Comment number 69.

    His school, his ability and his "niceness" is irrelevant to the core fact that his job is to polish and dress up a barrowload of manure that is the current Government's policies - cutting money, education and services to the people that need it the most while leaving intact the banking and bonus system that caused the financial meltdown and the crisis that we are now about to enter.

  • Comment number 70.

    I was going to write some "off the cuff remark" but ANDY @65 has done it for me. Can"t wait for PMQs next Wed to see what Nick thinks about all this.

  • Comment number 71.

    67. sagamix

    Wiki says he went to "a Scottish comprehensive". That would make him "public school educated".

  • Comment number 72.

    69. At 10:47am on 03 Feb 2011, LiamCurran wrote:
    His school, his ability and his "niceness" is irrelevant to the core fact that his job is to polish and dress up a barrowload of manure that is the current Government's policies - cutting money, education and services to the people that need it the most while leaving intact the banking and bonus system that caused the financial meltdown and the crisis that we are now about to enter.

    ============================================

    I think you'll find that the bonuses being paid to bankers are due to the fact that the previous government handed them our cash without actually setting any rules first. I don't know about you, but if I go into PCWorld and buy a PC once I've paid for it, its usually quite difficult to then demand that I get a free router with it as part of the deal.

    As to cutting services, except for the bakers chunk of our debt, why exactly do you think they need to be cut? I've got a feeling you wouldn't be half as vocal if labour were making these cuts.

  • Comment number 73.

    67. sagamix

    "Good news at first sight but I'm wondering if there may be communication problems with his employer, least till he's learnt the language."


    The important question is, does he speak 'human'?

  • Comment number 74.

    He's already got a tough job on his hands, what with Cameron's struggling 'Big Society' project. Lord Wei (the Big Society tsar) has realised that he doesn't have enough time to do both his day job AND volunteer. Welcome to the real world. Plus an adviser to Cameron has indicated that the Big Society is dead on its feet.

  • Comment number 75.

    68. me

    "Ultimately I'm against any form of state funded media. Goes against the concept of a 'free' press."


    Fortunately I can protest against it here!

    (Preempting any 'irony' comments:)

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Some of our bloggers have discovered that this fellow, Craig Oliver, is Scottish and are, tongue-in-cheek, querying his ability to communicate in English.

    This Englishman thinks it would be somewhat amusing if Oliver spoke to Cameron et al in a really thick Scottish brogue that was virtually impenetrable but that is of course, unlikely.

    This English blogger no real problem with Governmental support staff such as Oliver, coming from wherever in the EU, as per EU law but strongly objects to having MP's from the other home nations deciding law on English matters.

    As this place is still notionally a United Kingdom (sic), we English must suffer a political establishment at Westmonster that comprises all sorts.

    It aint't right!

  • Comment number 78.

    And how exactly are the BBC and the newlabour apologists going to spin this one?

    Seems to me like they've been out-Campbelled.

    There's going to be no mileage in trying to pretend he's biased just because he was the first of their number to take the prime minister seriously.

    Another back of the net moment for the coalition. Another ooh errr missus moment for the bungling, unpopular and inept opposition and their gauche leader.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 79.

    Speaking of rebranding, reselling and generally rolling the soft sticky brown stuff in glitter so that the voters will continue to buy it....


    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/columnists/maguire/2011/02/02/new-name-for-labour-party-115875-22892364/

    Saga, you might be going up in the world - "Progressive Labour" being mooted as the new name!

    Like to see Ed M try and say that without getting tongue tied.... (Progrethive?)

  • Comment number 80.

    "77. At 11:25am on 03 Feb 2011, JohnConstable wrote:
    Some of our bloggers have discovered that this fellow, Craig Oliver, is Scottish and are, tongue-in-cheek, querying his ability to communicate in English."

    I fear you may have missed Saga's attempt at humour at 67. "Hilariously" I believe Saga is trying to imply that Cameron will only understand people who have also gone to Eton.

    A joke straight out of the "Lame book of Cheap Political Cliches" which is perhaps not surprising as Saga seems to have written it.

    I'm curious, by the way, Saga. You say that someone who went to Eton can't possibly understand the needs of the ordinary person. How about someone who is a self-styled formerly succesful city financial worker who now hardly works at all. Would you say that sort of person has the faintest idea what the life of your average chirpy-chappy common-or-garden working class type person is?

  • Comment number 81.

    74. At 11:12am on 03 Feb 2011, RedandYellowandGreennotBlue wrote:
    Plus an adviser to Cameron has indicated that the Big Society is dead on its feet.
    =========================================================================
    Which one is that then, the one who said that Ed is an alien, or the one who saw Balls on the moon.........







  • Comment number 82.

    Topics we missed 531;

    MPs have overwhelmingly rejected a Tory MP's bid to pave the way for a referendum on the UK's EU membership.

  • Comment number 83.

    To all the "Tongue-in-cheek"bloggers having a bit of fun at Oliver"s Scottish roots they will also know that "The Queen"s English" is the accent of the Highlands where he comes from and as such every spoken word will be clear and precise. But maybe I"m a little bias.

  • Comment number 84.

    Fubar_Saunders @ 79

    This blogger has thought for a long time that mainstream parties Conservative and Labour were archaic names.

    Really inappropriate for this age of modernity and often able to be abused in a wry way e.g. We labour, they party.

    It is not my job to think up new names for these political entities, in fact, I'd rather they just disappeared from the face of the earth, being largely replaced by 'special purpose political vehicles', who themselves evaporate once their goal(s) have been fulfilled.

    Maybe that is a bit too futuristic for now but you can all have some fun thinking up some new names for Labour and the Tories.

  • Comment number 85.

    Well he will clearly have a good knowledge of how best to communicate with key members of the BBC.

    But as someone above said - can he speak human.

    Funny how often the English turn to a Scot in times of trouble.

  • Comment number 86.

    79. Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    Speaking of rebranding, reselling and generally rolling the soft sticky brown stuff in glitter so that the voters will continue to buy it....

    ...... Saga, you might be going up in the world - "Progressive Labour" being mooted as the new name!

    Like to see Ed M try and say that without getting tongue tied.... (Progrethive?)
    ================================================

    Or whem Ed Balls becomes leader, the presumably would be :

    Progressive Labour Ed Balls - or PLEB !

  • Comment number 87.

    79. Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    'Like to see Ed M try and say that without getting tongue tied.... (Progrethive?)"


    Fubar, it's not like you to be so insensitive.

  • Comment number 88.

    Topics we missed 532;


    World food prices at fresh high, says FAO

  • Comment number 89.

    Topics we missed 533;


    UK service sector bounces back but so does inflation

  • Comment number 90.

    Topics we missed 534;

    Shell profits double to $18.6bn

  • Comment number 91.

    @62 Hugh Parker. I agree! To change from newsman to spin-doctor is going over to the dark side - unless it's a tabloid man, in which case there's no difference.

    Considering that he left the job under a cloud, I also find it extraordinary that Mr Coulson seems to have had such a big rôle in headhunting his successor.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    56. At 07:58am on 03 Feb 2011, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    What happened to them all?

    The internet. They're bloggers now.

  • Comment number 94.

    Quite a shrewd move by the Cameron camp to get someone from the BBC on board.
    From what I can see, the BBC is the tories' most dangerous enemy (far more dangerous than labour itself).
    The tories can run rings around labour's false-logic and lies (Ed Balls "we had no deficit before the banking crisis" - eh? that's just a blatent lie, but the BBC doesn't pick up on it), but if the tory reasoning gets misreported (or not reported at all) by the BBC then it really doesn't matter what labour says/does, or what the tories do/say, labour would probably still win the next election.
    So my guess is that he was employed purely because he knows how the BBC works, and knows the tricks to avoid things getting misreported or not-reported by the BBC.
    If I were in Cameron's shoes, I'd have been thinking:
    "even if the economy booms, unemployment becomes zero, we pay off all the debt, and public services improve massively, the BBC will still be reporting that lord snooty and his toff pals want to demolish the NHS and that labour will save the world."
    Getting someone in who worked at the BBC at a high level is a good way to find out how to get facts across to the public without it getting slanted with left-wing "opinion" by the BBC.

  • Comment number 95.

    Cassandra @ 85

    You say its funny how often the English turn to a Scot in times of trouble.

    Oooh, that is cruel on us English but we deserve it for our political apathy.

    For example, there can hardly have been a person in England who did'nt think that Gordon Brown was singularly unrepresentative of us English and yet, by virtue (sic) of the party system, this fellow was imposed upon us (same could be said of David Cameron, who is almost as alien given his privileged back-story, including a suspiciously Scottish surname).

    Great Scot?

    Think not.

  • Comment number 96.

    JohnC @ 95

    I used to worry that us Jocks would go too far in some of our less charitable views on our English cousins, especially when you guys seemed to love us so much. Not anymore.

    Your posts on English independence seem to be heading away from positive points on why that might be a good idea, to simply having a go at Scotland and Scottish people. Which is a bit of a shame.

  • Comment number 97.

    Is it not about time that we moved on from this non story even the left are struggling to make anything of this....

  • Comment number 98.

    95 John,
    The ruling class conman's family can be traced back to the 11 illegitimate offspring of William 1V. They are all over the place, including Scotland. Mister Oliver may have some connection.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    "Saga, you might be going up in the world - "Progressive Labour" being mooted as the new name!" - fubar @ 79

    Really? Oh no. If they put "Clear Thinking" in front of it, and drop the Labour, I'll be seeing them in court. Unless Miliband is prepared to hand over gracefully that is.

 

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