Alastair Campbell, Reagan, Washington discussed on The Red Box Politics Podcast


I'm i was privileged in researching this book to talk. Not just to pull harrison. Were talking a little while ago. But to bernard ingham to alastair campbell. Joe haines too many other press. Secretary's let me tell you. None of them ever felt anything remotely cozy stephen with pointing out the obvious only ever be briefing for number. Ten is only ever going to be one of your sources as a political correspondent. I'm one of the stories. I think it must have been quiet political day but there was a bit of a row going on back in the coalition years about the price of energy energy. Bill this jumper gators. And i was so so david who was then. An energy minister had made a comment about whether it was cold. People could put a sweater should put a sweater on to keep warm and there was this whole the pack. Were asking a slightly inexperienced press spokesperson whether the minister was advising the public to wear a sweater if they were cold and i think they eventually managed to persuade the person to say something like well. Yes i do. Put on a sweater if i'm cold and yeah that is perhaps not one of the i remember. It was often the final morning lobby. There's not much going on. Journalists were balls and i remember anywhere on and on and on about whether or not if someone's cold with the prime minister suggests they put a jump for the obvious answer is of course if you're called you jump from but this the spokesman rightly identified. If you said that you've got the saying turn your heating often put a jump on says part of this and then he becomes out of touch of touch elite surely the lobby but never behave badly in your day though phil webster who is really a with me and we would quite merciless and and particularly on foreign trips As as you were saying foreign trips the lobby often ran amok and There was something about being out of the country together And if little story started running it it tended to get out of control again with. Neil connect wants in washington when reagan was still president. Can gwynne to try and dissuade reagan. That labor's unilateralist policy that he was still lumbered with the time Made all kinds of sense and we spoke to kick and and healy afterwards and apparently the meeting it all gone very very well until one of our journalists went along to the white house briefing. He he was had later deadline so he went along to the white house briefing. It was one hundred percent different way that came out. Was that connecticut. Had a real dressing down from reagan about the About the policy The unilateralist policy. And that of course became the story until we got back to kennedy and healy and found out that the president spokesman rather laid it on on how to come up with a story that was down in the middle. And it's it's the way that those very often on on these trips the agenda that had been set by the press secretary at the time was completely ripped up On the on the time leaving. Heathrow steve looking ahead to the future of the lobby. What we've seen actually the possible year. Eighteen months of the pre covid were attempts by the boss. Johnson damage sort of circumvent the lobby more just putting clips out on social media. And that's the thing even divide the lobbying to those allowed into briefings in those Not allowed there. Was the abortive plans then. Televise lobby briefings which everyone in the lobby said to be. A terrible idea for concerned low behold came to that view to might now lobby briefings taking place on zoom all teams with people texting questions. It's not particularly conducive to sort of open debate and interrogation but well she sink the long-term state of the lobbyist d think that actually people will go more and more fighting their own. I if essentially you're getting almost nothing from the number ten machine. People talk about being spoon fed things on number ten. If only sometimes they even you the spoon must. Do you think longs looking five ten years time. Do you think. I think the immediate question is when do we go back in person right which is presumably at the end of the restrictions. And the sooner that happens the better because it's finding over the phone and we will kind of coalesce. One person chairs lobbied lobby. They ask questions and that's fine but it's no replacement for doing face to face and that's for better and for worse so on the worst side one of the things. That always drives me nuts about lobby. Briefings when you get kind of grandstanding from reporters trying to of be very funny and very witty are one. Those and someone was trying to kind of make. Repeated snarky jokes in that questions and on the fringes of degree was one dominic. Cummings at the time who is watching these proceedings with interest and in fact as we know in hindsight sharpening the knife for the end of those briefings to bring televised briefing now. Those televised briefings didn't happen but the best of the lobby is when as a pack. It smells where the story is. It smells whether non dials and it goes for hopkins notch not veteran person. So for me. The sooner we get back to impose briefings the better now going to agree with you milwak- if only because the watts on post their questions will start. Beeping constantly won't give it questions of of absurd. A final word to you having having around in the history of the book to what your book the history of the lobby. What do you think about where it will end up. Because he to some extent. Reading was how much hasn't changed. Do you think the combination of technology and you. We'll do what we like. Attitude in indiana street means the lobby will change the coming as well. I think the lobi constantly changes and stephen has pointed out. There are lots of different ways of getting your information these days in way. I think the lobby. Because it's somebody really jealous. Like stephen lots of enterprising people who realize that they've got to continue to make their own way in this changing political and media landscape when you've got social media and so on i mean they're exploiting it. It's interesting how often it will be a lobby. Journalists tweeting align. Out which. I get alerts you to perhaps a big breaking political story and media journey and political journalists as well as the politicians now use social media as part of this kind of ongoing battle to shape the political narrative. I think some of that out right hostility to the lobby from number ten has if operated somewhat with the departure of dominic cummings and his colleague. Who was the director of communications lee now then longer in downing street it appears to be back back much more on a level of sort of formal equilibrium. They're never going to be. It's never going to be a love. It is at matt but so. I think that the caliber of political journalist we've got and their ability to adapt to the changing media and political landscape. I think that they had to stay while hopes because his all work and We'll find out what today's lobby briefing brings us when he kicks off today. Like i said it all happens on teams and post questions whatsapp group and yeah the poll journalists. Chairing ashley. Get some sense.

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