Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Hurry Up, Harri

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Hurry Up, Harri

Article excerpt

The chatter in Conservative circles is of the amiable Welsh Tory spinner Guto Harri, a housewives' favourite on the box before he quit the BBC to sweep up after Boris Johnson, sailing along the Thames to Downing Street from City Hall in London. My snout whispered that Harri, an Oxford contemporary of David Cameron's -though he avoided the Bullingdon stigma - could be on the move after the mayoral election on 3 May.

The people's toff lost his common touch when Andy Coulson departed to help the police with their inquiries. And the premier's communications chief, Craig "Crazy Olive" Oliver, another Cameron recruit from a BBC that right-whingers denounce without irony as home to a lefty conspiracy, is - how can I put this? - struggling. Hacks were surprised Oliver found the time to attend a party for the Mail on Sunday's departing editor, Peter Wright, while the government was running out of fuel. But Crazy Olive appeared to have not a care in the world.

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With his background in PR, Cameron the Prime Spinner is able to spot a potential negative story. During a No 10 reception for city mayors, a radar-lugged spy overheard the Liverpool Post lobby journalist Rob Merrick ask Dave if he would campaign for the no-hope Tory candidate in the Labour Merseyside stronghold. "No, I don't always help ..." Dave began but then suddenly switched to: "Yes, I will." Thus a damaging "Cameron abandons Liverpool Tories" headline was averted for the cost of a first-class return train ticket.

Peter Bone, the Sven-Goran Eriksson doppleganger who represents Wellingborough, is fond of starting his questions: "This morning at the breakfast table, Mrs Bone was saying . …

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