VIDEO: Stomping off in the middle of a debate is never a good look…

The Twittyblogsphere is abuzz with this one. Number Ten Communications director, Craig Oliver is allegedly “caught on camera” berating the BBC’s Norman Smith about a News at Six report. Oliver says he was “genuinely shocked” by the report and that it was based on “opinion rather than impartial reporting of the facts”. He also says he has complained to Smith’s boss about the report. He seems most upset by the “spider’s web” graphic which featured with the report.

Then at the end he stomps off, leaving a rather bemused Smith.

It’s a calm, even boring discussion. But, it is all very redolent of the “hairdryer” school of Campbell/Mandelson.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team and blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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19 Comments

  • At least there wasn’t swearing involved. Otherwise it would have been time to mention Malcolm Tucker.

  • You seem remarkably relaxed about a naked attempt to bully in the BBC into taking a pro-Government line, especially considering that the Tories have been attacking the BBC for ages, apparently at the behest of the Murdochs.

  • Paul Walter 28th May '12 - 8:26pm

    I was hoping the title gave the game away. Too subtle perhaps….
    And the last sentence?
    Perhaps I am too laid back generally…perhaps it’s the weather….

  • Two points:

    1. What a p@thetic man for walking away in that manner. All the talking was Oliver, he refused to listen to the other side of the argument.

    2. Does he work for the Tory Party or the Government, I thought it was the latter. The reason I ask is that he appears to suggest that the piece should have attacked Vince Cable. This would be a strange move and one it appears would be designed to deliberately push heat onto the Lib Dems and off their coalition partners. I believe that Cable rightly suffered poor reporting at the time his actions fell short but admitted his wrongdoings. For the No 10 spin doctor to suggest undermining one Cabinet Minister to protect another is pretty poor stuff….

  • Craig Oliver seems to be rather dim. Most people in his role would be smart enough to check whether the camera is running. Arms length doesn’t mean appointing your SpAd to handle and issue and then allowing him to exchange hundreds of back channel messages on a 6 Billion Pound deal. If you don’t want Hunt to be the story Mr Oliver, or indeed Cameron’s trademark lack of judgement, then Cameron needs to make the call to let Hunt go.

  • An interesting insight, but not, I fear a particularly surprising one. I’m sure spin doctors do this all the time.

    As for the point at issue, it is mad to appoint someone to a quasi judicial role who had previously expressed a strong opinion. I would think every Councillor knows you can’t express opinions on, say, a planning matter, unless you want to recuse yourself from the Planning Ctte. Sadly there are too many in the Conservative party who do not appear to understand the basic ethics. Perhaps that is the way they have always done it?

  • Whenever you watch political satire , the ministers and their advisers are always quick and slick . It turns out that the reality is more like Spinal Tap.

  • I was expecting something much worse from the build up. To be honest this looked like a pretty robust exchange, but a pretty calm and professional. I wouldn’t even say he stomped off. Finished saying his piece and left when he got nowhere.

    He’s the Number Ten Communications Director. What else is his job meant to involve if not making the PM look good?

    “I would think every Councillor knows you can’t express opinions on, say, a planning matter, unless you want to recuse yourself from the Planning Ctte.”

    Well not any more :-) (and arguably there were court decisions to contradict that position on planning matters)

  • Paul Walter 29th May '12 - 7:29am

    Lon Won, Nick Robinson’s reports are virtually all opinions to some extent, so why can’t Norman Smith be the same?

  • Keith Browning 29th May '12 - 7:54am

    I think this is just a ruse by the Tory spin doctor to divert the news away from Osbourne’s U-turn on the pasty tax. LOL.!!

    it increasingly looks like this country is being run by a load of amateurs, who couldn’t even organise a village hall jumble sale with any degree of certainty.

  • Keith Browning29th May ’12 – 7:54am…..I think this is just a ruse by the Tory spin doctor to divert the news away from Osbourne’s U-turn on the pasty tax. LOL.!!

    I think they were hoping Blair’s ‘grilling’ would divert the media. In the end (to use boxing parlance) “They never laid a glove on him”….

  • @Tom King
    “Smith, on the other hand, looks bereft of any real arguments and unable to justify the way he has reported the story.”

    Oliver never allowed Smith the opportunity to justify his piece, he cut him off several times and then walked off when Smith did not agree with him. The most worrying thing for me was that he was his trying to get the BBC to drag Vince back into it. I guess this now means that Lib Dem Ministers can appoint spin doctors and get them to ask the press to highlight Tory Ministers failings…

  • Paul Walter 29th May '12 - 8:05pm

    Lon Won: Nick Robinson not a good role model? Really? He’s the BBC’s Political Editor. That’s like being Manager of Man U in the football world…

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