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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Mixing fact and fiction

There is a fascinating piece in today's Mail on Sunday that either shows how true to life 'The Thick of it' is or just underlines the paper's inability to distinguish fact from fiction.

The paper features Steve Hilton, who it describes as the reclusive, shaven-headed strategy director who has masterminded the rebranding of the Conservatives. They say that he has been warned that he is alienating key party figures by bombarding them with jargon-filled emails telling them ‘how to think’:

Last night, one Tory frontbencher lifted the lid on the simmering resentment over 40-year-old Mr Hilton, who is married to Rachel Whetstone, the former Tory aide who is now head of communications at Google.

‘This guy clearly does not have anything better to do,’ he said. ‘What does he think we do? Does he think we sit on our hands waiting to read emails from a ten-year-old who has just discovered Conservatism, on a £200,000 salary in some farmhouse with a wife who works for Google?'

‘It’s just crap. The problem is that Steve Hilton has discovered Conservatism without any understanding of it. He has just bumped into it and said, “Hey, guys, it’s amazing!”’

Other figures in the party say that when they first received the bulletins, they thought they were a spoof from the BBC’s political spin doctor satire The Thick Of It, which features a Hilton-style PR guru called Stewart Pearson who ‘hangs’ at Tory HQ dressed in jeans and T-shirt and talks impenetrable gobbledegook.

It is nice to know that the infighting so vividly portrayed in 'The Thick of it' is actually reflected in real life though one has to worry if all the rest of it is true as well.
I am reminded of this immortal exchange in 'The Thick of It' between Stewart Pearson and shadow minister Peter Mannion:

Stewart Pearson: Just wondering whether you're fully conversive with the new line, whether you're really up to speed.

Peter Mannion: I don't know, am I? Because I get people stopping me on the streets and saying "are you still for locking up yobbos?" and I say "yeah, of course we are!", and then I think "are we?", because maybe I missed a memo from you, maybe I should understand yobbos now, not even call them 'yobbos', call them 'young men with issues around stabbing'.
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