How to win elections, with Barack Obama

March 3rd, 2009

Willow, London

As Gordon Brown tries his heart out to soak up some electorate love by hanging out with Barack Obama, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that everyone who stuck their neck around the door of an Obama canvassing centre is now writing an anatomy of his win.

I have just finished reading a rather earnest one. It has excellent references to the way team Obama forged communication lines in new media, and the way Obama made the cynical electorate feel it, at last, was all about them.

It’s all very good stuff, and true, but it does not mention, as no-one yet has to my knowledge, the single biggest appeal of Brand Obama.

And no, I don’t mean that he’s black, or that his bum is skinnier than his wife’s, or that he is the greatest speaker since Martin Luther King.

NO. Brand Obama is eerily like what you would get if you could evolve a younger version of the best, brightest, most untarnished political brand of our times.

And who is that man, who has the world falling over themselves to be near him? Of course it is Nelson Mandela. Who looks just like he could be Obama’s old, wise father.

Or is it just me?

Bloody language at last as workers go to class war…

February 5th, 2009

Willow - London

Good to see the unions finally starting to use strong bloody language in defense of the  British workers who are striking over this EU directive that says that employers can ship workers over and pay them the payrates from their country of origin.

Consequently the handful of big job-providing construction jobs in the country are being built by workers from elsewhere, being paid much less than it costs to have a basic life in England. In a Dickensian twist, some of these workers are being “housed” in ships docked in cold rivers. I feel the chill shiver of my mine-working ancestors as I write….

The government, interrupted in its Davos economic rescue work, has been scathing it its language, labelling these workers “economically illiterate” and “racist” in an effort to get them to pipe down.

Mr Mendelson, that propigator of nineties-style bigspin, was first out of the box, airdropping his oped pieces in papers across the city. You must not stand in the way of globalisation, he wrote from his warm and tax-payer-paid-for office.

He was backed up by the “big thinkers” in editorials and opeds across the City. The unions seemed unable to act - particularly stung by the allegations of racism!
In our blood though, we citizens know that this is not about globalism or racism. This is about rich shareholders from elsewhere undercutting pay conditions that are needed to live in England. Much blood has been spilt for them.
At last the union administration, forced by their members, assembled the guns and start firing back.

Yesterday, Unite’s Derek Simpson put out a statement saying this “unofficial” action is not about race or immigration: “It’s about class,” he said, “Its about employers who  exploit workers regardless of their nationality by undercutting their hard won pay and conditions. These are rights that trade unionists have fought long and hard for while ultra right wing groups did nothing but stoke hatred in our towns and cities.

Trade unionists stand against everything the BNP stand for. We have warned union members on construction sites to remain vigilant when it comes to ultra right wing leeches.”

Obama euphoria hides some toxic dumps

January 22nd, 2009

By Willow in London

Yes, and before you knife me for not melting into my seat as I watch and read about the new US President, I confess to a small feeling of hope surrounding him… a feeling he has wisely been playing down now that he has pulled off the impossible dream.

We’ll let the US have the glow that comes from having the only political superstar on the planet, and wish them well. Back in the gloomy ol’ Blighty though, let’s look at who’s dumping their bad news in the wake of the glitzy inauguration special, or the 12 page wraparound special…

Obviously the Royal Bank of Scotland has had such toxic news to dump that it still managed to struggle through the media euphoria.

As an old health media hack, I was more interested in the fact that the UK Government leaked reports showing that Accident and Emergency units are seriously failing at the moment -something that anyone who uses the NHS has known for months.

Many hospitals are on constant bypass, and hardly any have met their targets of seeing sick people within FOUR HOURS….  but this horrid admission got only page ten coverage (the ignored left hand side of the newspaper) in my Evening Standard.

Now, of course, when we all settle down and the opposition tries to make something of it, the government will just say “That’s old news, we released it last week.”

The media hate “old news”, so it probably will not be properly examined. Or at least the government will be hoping that’s what happens.

C’mon Opposition, you can do it. Take some cameras to the entrance of any A&E you care to pick (St Georges would be a good choice) and spend a few minutes talking to the relatives of an old granny who’s been in the corridors for hours with nary a nurse, let alone a cup of tea in sight…

Tepid spin on warming as the world freezes….

January 12th, 2009

Willow - back in London after a cool Australian summer Christmas.

Have you noticed that throughout this chilling northern hemisphere winter, whenever the press runs a story on the arctic conditions around the world, they run a little side-story from some wonk explaining how this does not mean that global warming is not real?

All these articles are designed to stop us from daring to challenge global warming dogma even as people in Canada suffer from rooves collapsing from snow (on rooves that were designed for the stuff) and England and Germany have their coldest winters in 20 years.

In England, they’ve been apologising for the cool summers for the past two years now: “It’s not usually like this,” they say as they huddle inside from the latest windstorm.

So isn’t it time for the press to start challenging these graphs that supposedly show that this is a blip of super-chill? Except that newspapers around the world are losing journalists faster than that iconic iceblock under that polar bear is (allegedly) melting….

* ps - before you start, I believe that we should be taking better care of our God-given world and doing everything we can to live simpler lives so that the world works well for our children.

We no longer have a role for you

December 10th, 2008

Scotty: Melbourne: 

How do you tell someone they’ve just been fired? How do you throw pixie dust at clients so they believe service won’t diminish even after lay-offs and site closures?

How do you come up with quotes like this:

“We are right-sizing Carat for several key reasons: client spend reduction, re-prioritization and focus on our core services and a streamlining of our operations. These efforts have been based on a thorough evaluation of our structure, operating and staffing costs.”?

All in a day’s work for the spin doctors of the HR world. A rare insight into the working of HR spinmeisters comes via “Slate”, which has posted online a draft internal communications plan accidentally emailed to various non-authorised recipients by the “Chief People Officer” of Carat corporation. Whoops. The inevitable PowerPoint can be read in all its glory, including mark-ups and suggestions.

 Link is here.

Willow blows her horn on Osborne unrest….

November 29th, 2008

Only a few weeks back I said the only way forward for GlamCam was to get rid of a senior shadow cabinet person who was not taking the financial fight to the government…

Well I’ve led the way because now every paper from the Daily Mail to the Spectator is saying the same thing: George Osborne is letting Gordon Brown get away with having created the tinderbox which has destroyed the beloved golden mile and taken tens of thousands of jobs with it.

Stung by all this, GO-GO thought to take the fight to Flash Gordon, by saying the pound was in danger of sliding down south of the rupee and the rand, and, God Forbid, even the Aussie Dollar.

A bold strategy in a country whose wartime PM invented the PR Gold Standard Rule: “in war, the truth must be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.” Anyway, as a lover of bold strategy, I was thrilled. Here was GO-go’s chance to prove that he has the political skill to live up to the smug expression.

He had the stage, now was his chance to use it with devastating cutting wit that would shred big G’s facade again. But no. What did he say? “It’s my job to tell the truth…” he bleated. Er, no, your job is to oppose and puncture the lies, for sure, but we all know the truth. The truth is what we fear, and we need to look through our fear and be galvanised with hope, for a better tomorrow. Your job is to show us how you would do that if you were Chancellor. What would you do, George Osborne? It is now a week since he and GlamCam said they would not guarantee the government’s spending if elected in 2010, provoking squeals of “thatcherism” from the left.

Okay, that’s a good start… but what would you do, given that Britain will likely still be in recession by then (what do we have to get us out of it with the City in tatters)? How will you wean us off our one trillion pound debt? I know what I would do, but I’m not going to post that here for now. I will wait a while to see what develops. Meanwhile, in the next few days I will write up the secret spin that Tired Old Labour is using is using to keep its new paymasters the unions under control!

Nikko gets the guns out on Axl’s spin

November 26th, 2008

Like me, you are no doubt jubilant about the imminent release of Guns N Roses’ newest album, Chinese Democracy. It’s been 17 years in the making, which makes you wonder (a) how shithouse Axl sounds these days, and (b) why he couldn’t come up with a more original name to generate pre-release publicity.

    Perhaps he meant to release it during the Olympics, but forgot.

    Anyhoo, for a bunch of songs Axl began working on the year after Collingwood won their last flag, you’d hope he’d have nailed it. Unfortunately, I have just come across the self-deprecating summary on the band’s website. I think this answers my questions with far more sureity than any album reviewer ever could……..

… sadly we have to paraphrase here, as the author Nikko originally quoted has threatened to sue The Spin for breach of copyright (under 100 words is fine where I come from, but we don’t want to upset the very passionate Ms Fox) ….

Erin Fox writes that “many agree that Guns N’ Roses is one of the most important and influential bands in the entire history of rock music.” That’s history, in its entirety.

“Millions have been born onto this Earth and millions of others have passed on without ever seeing this day finally come I’m sorry, is this Guns n Roses, or the Second Coming she’s talking about?

Finally, Ms Fox says that for an entire generation, (that would be my generation, and you can’t take copyright of that) the release of a Guns N’ Roses record is as important as a wedding or the birth of a child. (Something, I assume, Ms Fox has not yet done or she would know how bollocks that statement is.)

Erin, we at The Spin hope it makes you feel better when we say, sincerely, that we never would and never could pretend to have written such words…

Hopefully you’ll forgive us for allegedly infringing on your copyrights. Or maybe you’re upset because our original correspondent Nikko, “cut you short just a fraction, because this turgid nonsense goes on for another 40 (oversized) paragraphs.”

Nikko (with some incursions by Ed)

The financial squeeze gives Boydy flashbacks

November 26th, 2008

By Brian Boyd, VTHC Secretary

The Australian’s Business Magazine recently posed the question: Is this the end of capitalism as we know it, quoting analysts, regulators and - the doozie - one deemed “The True Capitalist,” Chris Corrigan!

This is the Chris Corrigan who, as managing director of port operator Patrick Corp,connived with the Howard government in 1998 in a crude military – style attempt to deunionise the Australian waterfront.

It was a watershed dispute.

Ten years later, this “true capitalist” writes in said magazine that “true capitalism is alive and well in many parts of the globe, especially in Asia”.

In contrast to Asia, Corrigan claims that the Western democracies such as the US, UK and Australia long ago became “nanny states”, rejecting such “capitalist” virtues ‘self reliance, thrift and a belief in markets. According to Corrigan, this is the principle flaw from which all others stemmed to bring on the crisis that has hit the world.

Mr Corrigan must think people have short memories.

He embraced the so called ‘nanny state’ himself back in 1998 when he enthusiastically used the full powers of the Federal Government to help him take on his own workforce. His company asked for and received hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payers’ money to fund the legal redundancies Patrick Corp were liable for.

In turn more millions of dollars were lined up from the ‘evil’ banks to fund the Dubai training operations and his later extravagant corporate takeover bids.

Corrigan really does have a nerve to be the spokesperson for the so called ‘true capitalist’. Over the last decade he went along with his political mates in the Howard government putting up the bubble, without a whisper of the critical analysis he is offering up now.

But one thing he is consistent about. When capitalism needs propping up it is the ordinary working people who inevitably pay. Corrigan says we the workers must suffer a prolonged drop in living standards for his system to recover. The same system he played in for years.

Now a London based “private investor” Chris Corrigan sits back and dreams of the old days, while the global economic crisis hurts the most who didn’t create it.

It was the lack of “moral hazard” that allowed the huge explosion in unrepayable mortgage borrowings (especially sub prime) in the US that led to the recent spectacular collapses of the big home loan companies (e.g. Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac). In turn this lack of conscience triggered the current fiscal crisis. Mr Corrigan’s ‘true capitalism’ model only guarantees we will see it all again.

Obama’s words of hope leave Kevin O’Seven speechless…

November 20th, 2008

Henrietta, Melbourne:
Today’s hotly contested talkback debate is about whether PM Rudd should hire a proper speechwriter - as suggested by former PM Bob Hawke.

Methinks Rudd’s extensive history as a career bureaucrat has rather tarred him with the brush of speaking a lot but saying very little. In fact, if bureaucrat-linguistics where a national sport he’d no doubt be Australia’s Poster Boy for it. Rudd loves to make new words out of perfectly suitable existing ones (complementarities is but one), is very much in favour of repeating himself, and of course, likes to make himself VERY CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD… which, in my humble opinion, if you have to say you haven’t been speaking clearly in the first place.

Having set the bar quite high at the start of his PM-ship thanks to the powerful ’sorry’ speech, Kevin’s reverted to his poor English form and he now speaks like he’s written a very boring memo.

Of course, it’s not helped by the fact that America now has Obama, whose speeches literally send shivers up your spine and can bring you to tears, so much so our boring old Kevin is about as exciting as watching the credits to Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.

In fact, I think Rudd should just shush up entirely!  Since the moment he’s stepped into office he and his government mates have been talking down the economy - so much so yesterday Reserve Bank chairman Glenn Stevens told the government to keep their mournful tomes about the economy to themselves.  You know what they say, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Scotty reflects on old spin poet….

November 18th, 2008

Scotty, Melbourne:

A time capsule has unearthed evidence of a time when Spin Doctors had a
touchingly humble view of their role and capabilities.

Septugenarian former political PR hack Noel Tennison has told “The
Australian” Media section of his early days in what was then hte early
days of what then may not even have been called a profession.

“Tennison, a former trade union journal editor from Brisbane, launched
into political PR in Melbourne in 1972 when it was an undefined art rather
than the pseudo-science it has become among today’s professional spin

They were the days when there was personal trust between public relations
advisers and politicians and the task was to help the politicians express
themselves, rather than tell them what to say.

All that has changed, says Tennison, with the multiple layers of advisers
and spin doctors forming a barrier between politicians and the public.

“The people I worked for achieved what they did largely on their own
merits,” he says. “I just helped them along the way. ”

In the great tradition of PR, Tennison is of course plugging his book “My
Spin in PR”, which sounds like a tautology. Good luck to him.

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