Cameron’s monkish silence on civil liberties

Ben Brogan notes that Gordon Brown has bitten back at last, specifically concerning David Davis:

Turns out the hero of H&H wrote to the Prime Minister last week, as well as every Cabinet minister and even Keith Vaz, to challenge them to a debate on 42 days and the state of freedom in Britain. He suggested Labour MPs have been gagged on the PM’s orders, to stop them engaging with DD. Somewhat suprisingly, Mr Brown has written back with his own challenge to David Cameron:

“Dear David
As you know, Prime Ministers are available once a week at Question Time to debate all the issues of the day, and I was disappointed that you chose to step down as a Member of Parliament in advance of Question Time on Wednesday, 11 June rather than coming to the House to debate with me the issues around the use of CCTV and DNA evidence, and the measures we have taken to protect our national security.
Nevertheless, the leader of your party has the opportunity each week to ask six questions on those issues that caused you to leave his Shadow Cabinet. He has had two such opportunities to date, but he has yet to ask any such question. He has two further opportunities to raise these issues before the ‘by-election’ on July 10th, and I am sure that if he shares your strong feelings about them, he will not duck those opportunities.
Gordon Brown”

600,000+ people have watched the Heinz Deli Mayo ad on You Tube – is this what Heinz wanted all along?

There are some interesting comments on the Heinz Deli Mayo saga from advertising professionals in the Guardian. One I liked was this one from Marco Rimini of Mindshare:

Of course the ad shouldn’t have been pulled. The point of the ad is to use shock to communicate. It’s bang on strategy. If it’s going to succeed in its objective then why withdraw it? The real issue is, is it a good strategy or a desperate one and should the ad have been approved in the first place?
Is anyone really surprised that there are enough homophobes to generate more than 200 complaints for an advertisement showing two men kissing? If they are, it’s doubtful they should be in marketing. This type of communication relies on shock – it’s the shock that sells. Withdrawing the ad makes me think that it’s just another example of the use of mainstream TV to generate publicity for an ad so it has a healthy afterlife on YouTube. It’s not really an ad targeting the mainstream through TV, but a viral ad using TV as a launch platform.

At a rough tot-up of the four versions of the ad which I can find on You Tube, well in excess of 600,000 people have watched the ad so far, so Rimini could well be right.

How to become a Tory MP: "Lick up" to Central Office and "hold your nose"

Conservative Home have published a fascinating guide on how to become a Conservative MP, garnered from submissions from 126 adopted candidates.

Some of the advice can be considered common to people aiming to be MPs from all parties, for example “Don’t leave first base without your family’s support”.

But some of the guidance has a distinctly Conservative flavour.

For example, “Prepare to lose a lot of money”. One adopted candidate writes:

Over the last ten years I’ve spent at least £100,000 getting to this point and I feel lucky. I will be an MP in the first Conservative government of the 21st century but many others have spent tens of thousands and have got nowhere.

Indeed, Conservative Home estimates that the average cost of becoming a Tory MP is £41,500. It seems that part of this money needs to be spent on buying vintage champagne for Conservative Central Office list-wallahs at conference – one candidate wrote:

I was told by a CCHQ employee that if I applied for the seat they would ensure I got an interview. We’ll manage the sift for you. It was a person I’d bought champagne at the last Party Conference. It was the best £35 I ever spent in my time in the party.

Also, forget working hard – it’s who you know that counts. One candidate says:

Seriously – do some homework – and be seen in the right places – by elections, various events that the area CCHQ staff are at…and the like…don’t bother doing 10,15, 20 years working your way up through the ranks gaining experience.

There are some other gems on this same subject:

Lick up to everyone in CCHQ who matters to get on the A list – get the fix in your favour and make sure you’re good on the night too.

Hold your nose while you’re on your way up. Say nice things to the CCO staff who will lose your CV or put it on the top of the pile. It’s nauseating but these people have so much power.Too much power.

Thoughts on the Scots

I don’t often comment on Scots affairs, even though, as a Celt, I do feel a certain amount of affinity for those north of the border.

Bernard Salmon wrote an excellent post on the demise of “Bendy Wendy” and I also recommend this article by the BBC Scotland’s veteran political editor.

But the one opinion I wanted to express is this. Stuff those English numpties who are criticising Andy Murray. If he wins anything in tennis it will because he has real grit and isn’t a home counties nice boy. I am delighted that Andy Murray has failed to set alight those home counties twits who inhabited Henman Hill. The reason they are not delirious with hero worship is the very reason he has have a chance of succeeding in tennis.

Heinz: remember salad cream

In 2000 Heinz announced they were withdrawing their Salad Cream from sale due to lack of interest. There was a huge outcry amid vast free publicity for Heinz.

Then, a few months later, they changed their mind (surprise, surprise) and said they would be re-starting their Salad Cream range, albeit rebranded and with a slight change of recipe. Their rethink got them… gussed it…vast free publicity.

These guys don’t do things lightly and they know how to manage a story.

So when they commissioned the advert with a New York deli chef standing in as a “mum”, they won’t have done it lightly. The advert (below) would have gone through all sorts of checks and approvals.

It’s actually very funny, in my view. They’ve had 200 complaints against it. I suspect they will receive more about the withdrawal of the advert and that we haven’t heard the last of this one. Heinz may still emerge “apparently” smelling of roses having made sure that their new Deli Mayo is a sure-fire winner – thanks to loads of free advertising.

To complain about the withdrawal, here are the relevant contact details courtesy of LibDem Voice:

Nigel Dickie, Director of UK Corporate and Government AffairsTelephone: 020 8848 2726
Heinz’s free phone number: 0800 528 5757

I have just emailed Mr Dickie.

Visit to the Guardian – photos

I’ll let you into a little secret. I get all weak at the knees at the thought of newspapers. Particularly newspaper offices and printing presses. At an early age, I showed an interest in newspapers. I was particularly fascinated by the Plymouth Evening Herald arriving hot off the presses at 5pm and being chucked onto the hot pavement of the Strand, Bude in front of Tremeers newsagents. The “Stop Press” column used to fascinate me. How did they do it? What is in it today? Oh, it’s the “Closing Prices”. Never mind. I did have a collection of pristine newspapers somewhere including the Daily Sketch (remember that?), the last issue of broadsheet Sun (yes, it was, sort of, a broadsheet once!), the first issue of the tabloid Sun and copious newspapers covering the first man on the moon.

I was fortunate to have parents who encouraged my interest. They bought me a wonderful book called “Discovering Newspapers” about the adventures of a boy working on a local newspaper in the summer holidays. I still revere it. When I was about 12, my dad took to the offices and press of the Cornish and Devon in Launceston to be personally shown round by the Editor, Mr Arthur Venning. My goodness me. Thrills on sticks. I still treasure the memory. The man who was making up the “hot metal” for the presses made up a little block with my name on it. I still have it somewhere.

I also have a picture of me and my family visiting Fleet Street when they actually produced newspapers there (it was when you could walk up to the door of Number 10, Downing Street -which we did). Later, my brother managed to blag me into Financial Times presses which was great.

So, the invitation recently to attend a meeting at the “Guardian newsroom” was received with quivering hands by yours truly. Thank you Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy.

It turned out that it was an invitation to the Guardian’s “Newsroom”, which isn’t, funnily enough, a newsroom. Darn it. Never mind. It is actually a exhibition centre just opposite the Guardian main offices in Farringdon Road, London EC1.

Still, I entered into the whole thing with boyish enthusiasm. To prove it here are a series of photos I took of the Guardian, the meeting arranged by Liberal Conspiracy and its surroundings.

In passing, I would very much recommend the exhibition of photographs by the late Don McPhee, which is currently showing at the Guardian’s “Newsroom”. He was an extraordinarily talented photographer. He could capture a geometrically perfect photo of a split second event. His collection is quite wonderful and includes many memorable photographs, including one of Jeremy Thorpe being interviewed in the Lotus position and Cyril Smith conducting do-it-yourself brain surgery on himself through his eye. (Well, he was just rubbing his eye actually, but it looked as though his finger was going so deep that it was actually entering his brain).

The main Guardian building in Farringdon Road.

The front of the main Guardian building

The reception entrance to the main Guardian building

The Guardian “Newsroom” exhibition centre

The pub just opposite the Guardian – the “Betsey Trotwood”. Perhaps the scene of many a post-deadline sup of Brown ale by Guardian journos? Probably not, it is far too obvious to go to the pub opposite for Guardian types. They’ve probably found somewhere much better nearby.

Some of the LibDem bloggers at the meeting. From left, Mary Reid, Gavin Whenman and Chris Richards.

Exmouth Market, a superb place, just near the Guardian.

Mount Pleasant, the main London Post Office sorting office. At 6pm I saw a queue of people waiting to post letters. A bit weird in a way. A scene you see in towns all over the country, but, in the case of this Post Office, it covers acres and sorts millions of letters and parcels a day.

The Liberal Conspiracy meeting in the theatre of the “Newsroom”. Or, more precisely, the rather stern-faced wait for everyone to arrive.

The discussion on Women bloggers, or more accurately, feminist bloggers