Parliament: August 2009 Archives

happykids.jpgHere's a good case study on bad PR. Suppose there's a skanky bit of wasteland where used needles lurk and an unpopular property developer waits. Imagine an active and committed local community tidy it up, have events with happy wee kids with painted faces (left), and put in some raised beds for fruit and veg. Who do you back?

Welcome to the North Kelvin Meadow debate. We've lined up with the community, and Glasgow City Council have taken them to court. In August. Not clever.

The BBC coverage has a neat before-and-after illustration at the top. As one of the journalists said to me yesterday - "we do love a good bullying Council story in August", and so it went - Express, Sun, Mail, Herald etc. I particularly recommend the Sun's coverage there.

We're going to court tomorrow to see how it goes. Either way, though, the Council will lose, and I suspect they know that now.


f4jsantas.jpgLast night, with the heads of the four other parties' press teams here in Holyrood, I did a presentation and Q&A for the Chartered Institute of PR and an audience of about fifty. 

Although the others on the panel are my direct competition both for stories and within stories, we actually all get on well, and I thought the panel operated as a pretty good team.

However, it was all Chatham House rules, which prevents me from retelling entertaining stories about the career of Ramsay Jones, the Tories' head of media here. I can say his advice was excellent, and he's also the author of one of the best media comments ever. When Fathers4Justice piled up the Santas on Holyrood's roof, he gave following the line (roughly) "Whatever the rights and wrongs of their case, it's inappropriate to give kids the impression there's more than one Santa."

Those same Chatham House rules also prevent me from embarrassing one of the PR agencies who came along. Suffice it to say (and this is within the rules*) it's not the best way to win friends in this bit of Parliament to come up afterwards and try to pick a fight over a project your company has worked for and which we don't support. 

The kicker - at the end of that conversation, to try to build some bridges, I said "do let me know if any of your clients do anything sustainable that we might take an interest in", but in a moment of honesty I was told no, none of them do. Can't say I was surprised.

* "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."
lutherkingdream.jpgPeter Cranie tells the story today of his recent experiences in the dreamland version of Iran. I think it's time to start admitting how political obsession can work its way into dreams. 

This is not cool. In fact, it's properly embarrassing. But here goes. In about 2001, I dreamt an entire Scottish Parliamentary by-election for the Angus constituency. 

The SNP's candidate was Shona Robison, since 2003 the MSP for Dundee East and since 2007 the Minister for Public Health. The Tory challenger was Ben Wallace, now the MP for Lancaster and Wyre. 

I don't think it's any coincidence that I'd worked with both of them through the cross-party group on refugees and asylum seekers, where Wallace defied his whip just by joining the group. His military experience meant he "knew what they've been through", as he put it, and she was the group's efficient convener.

Both were regional list MSPs for the Northeast at the time, so would also have been relatively plausible choices as candidates, and the Tories have indeed been in second place in the seat every time it's been contested. I don't remember anyone else getting a look-in, presumably because the squeeze effect works even in dreams. Nor was there any explanation about what had happened to Andrew Welsh, who still represents Angus at Holyrood. 

When I say I dreamt it, I don't mean that I just dreamt there was a by-election. There was a hustings, copious newspaper coverage, Brian Taylor doing pieces to camera and vox pops, and a full by-election special. Sadly, I woke up before the declaration, in a reversal of the normal run of things, so I can't tell you who won.

I've got one more even more bizarre political dream to confess to as well. If enough other anoraks come out of the woodwork with shameful political dreams I'll do the followup here. It can't just be me and Peter.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Parliament category from August 2009.

Parliament: July 2009 is the previous archive.

Parliament: September 2009 is the next archive.