Pickles: Key role for Tory bloggers in rebutting Labour

A Tory bloggers briefing yesterday highlighted the key role that Tory chairman Eric Pickles believes Tory websites will play in rebutting Labour's key messages.

A Tory bloggers’ briefing last night highlighted the key role that Tory Chairman Eric Pickles believes Conservative websites will play in rebutting Labour’s key messages.

Left Foot Forward was alerted to the private discussions by an email from an anonymous blogger describing themselves as “A Tory Friend” which read:

“Eric Pickles and the CCHQ press team told the bloggers they would be given 7am briefing emails or “talk point memos” during the election campaign which would include the days lines and strategy and rebuttals to Labour attacks.”

Shane Greer, who was at the event, denied that bloggers were offered morning emails but told Left Foot Forward:

“Eric Pickles described the role he thought bloggers could play in key marginals to rebut Labour lies where they cropped up.”

Harry Cole, aka Tory Bear, told Left Foot Forward that Pickles said it would be:

“A very dirty election and that’s where you come in … on rebuttal”

On her blog, Lazy Hyena also quotes Pickles:

“This is going to be one of the nastiest, most brutal campaigns in recent history. And that’s where you come in…”

And a hungover Thomas Byrne, who left the drinks at 2am, said he did not want to comment as he, “was not sure what was meant to be said.”

76 Responses to “Pickles: Key role for Tory bloggers in rebutting Labour”

  1. Will Straw

    Thanks for all these hilarious comments, I think we have proved our point about the coordinated rebuttal of Tory bloggers. A few points:

    1) We didn’t say the 7am emails were true we just reported what the source said. Note the headline which makes no mention of 7am emails.

    2) We got separate accounts direct from Tory Bear and Shane Greer, two of whom mentioned Pickles and rebuttal. Unless Bear and Greer were both lying to us, Pickles clearly sees the Tory blogosphere as part of the “rebuttal operation”.

    3) We corrobarated Harry Cole’s account with the quote from Lazy Hyena which she describes later in her article as “accurate”.

  2. Old Holborn

    I’m not a Tory but I absolutely guarantee that I am going to make this election campaign absolutely filthy.

  3. Louise Bagshawe

    Will,

    I’m the Tory PPC for Corby & East Northants. I was there because I blog a bit on ConHome and tweet a lot. Indeed I won a prize from Pickles for Tweeting.

    Take it from me, as a candidate in a marginal seat I would be ill-advised to lie; there was nothing at all mentioned about 7am briefing lines. Actually, in contrast, Eric said as part of his speech that central control of bloggers wasn’t desirable. He gave the example of how you guys on the left always seem to be blogging from Labour’s press release of the moment, no dissent, no constructive criticism, and how Tory independence was better.

    Then he joked about the nature of Labour’s dirty tricks. How they lie. Example; how they try to scare the elderly into believing we will take away their bus passes. “It will be a dirty campaign,” he predicted. We learned that from Damian McBride, senior Brown and Balls adviser, of course. He looked round the room at the various bloggers. “That’s where you come in,” he then said to great laughter. Man’s got some comic timing. He asked bloggers to be watchful for Labour untruths and to refute them. No more; no less. Central control eschewed and ridiculed. Now, as a PPC I have to follow the whip, but the blogosphere doesn’t and Eric didn’t ask them to. That’s about the size of his remarks. There was a girl that looked a bit like Fran Drescher there who recorded his whole speech on her voice memo. Maybe she could email it to you so you could get yourself out of that twist.

    Labour blogs evidently shouldn’t report on Tory blogger gatherings, embarrassing yourself over what you wish had been said rather than what was said is turning into a tradition.

  4. TinTin

    Thanks for the suckophantics Louise. What an independent minded MP you would be, not. This has been a great thread so far for revealing that Tory blogger mindsets are even worse than we imagined. Keep it up Will.

  5. andyheath

    “This is going to be one of the nastiest, most brutal campaigns in recent history" – Eric Pickles, Tory chairman. //bit.ly/cvAmzn

  6. Ian R McAllister

    RT @BevaniteEllie: RT @KerryMP: More on @EricPickles briefing the sockpuppets on @leftfootfwd //bit.ly/cMqe2c

  7. Luke

    I think there are three things we can establish from this post:

    1. There was indeed a strategy meeting and Pickles made it quite clear that he wanted Tory bloggers to be on the front line in the election campaign, either in a defensive or offensive capacity (the two become blurred on the campaign trail).

    2. That there is some kind of system, either formal or informal, where by which Tory bloggers are quick to rebut any unfavourable or potentially embarrassing stories. (I’m sure it will become clearer as to how centralised and well-managed this system actually is).

    3. Eric Pickles likes to award prizes for good behaviour.

  8. Matthew Taylor

    @Luke This “…system…where by which Tory bloggers are quick to rebut…” is called Will Straw’s official LFF twitter account. If people read his tweets, follow the links, and then rebutt once they stop laughing, that’s more his fault than that of any Tory system.

  9. Gabe Trodd

    Will,

    Loving your work. The Tories seem a bit rattled by this.

    As a general rule, you know you’ve done something right when you have loads of confused Tories posting in the comments section.

  10. Luke

    @Matthew Taylor Wouldn’t that be the point of a Tory rapid-rebuttal system? To keep tabs of left-of-centre/Labour-leaning bloggers who might end up striking a nerve or two?

  11. Richard Blogger

    Louise B is a star turn, and clearly Pickles prize to her was to disable her irony chip!

  12. Will Straw

    Matthew – I think the fact that Samuel Coates of CCHQ tweeted this at 12.45 (ie after just 4 comments) rather proves Chris’ point:

    “”Evidence-based” @LeftFootForward has published made-up claims from an anonymous email: //j.mp/co8c5V

    Also, you were wrong with your comment at 12.48 to suggest we hadn’t read the entirety of the Lazy Hyena quote. We had which is why we only reproduced the quote which was, according to Lazy Hyena in the 4th paragraph, “accurate”.

    The fact remains that (i) our headline is accurate and corroborated by several Tory bloggers, and (ii) we outlined in the piece that Shane Greer denied the 7am email allegation. I would call that “evidence-based” in putting all the information available to us in the public domain.

    Will

  13. truthmonkey

    Will, your defence of your piece (both here and on Tory Bear – “//www.torybear.com/2010/02/when-is-briefing-not-briefing.html”) seems to be that you were just quoting someone else.

    In which case you’ve been a bit daft, and damaged your credibility, rather than actually tried to deceive anyone. That’s not my opinion; I’m quoting from an anonymous email I received.

  14. Liz McShane

    All the Tory bloggers seem to be in a right pickle!! (sorry just couldn’t resist posting this….)

  15. David T Breaker

    Evidence based journalism is not just reprinting any old anonymous email you get, even if you do allow a right of reply, as your publishing of it and the context you created for it implies it is true when it isn’t. Ever heard of checking your sources?

    The reason there has been such a rapid reaction by bloggers such as myself is that your conspiracy theory is an attemp to undermine our independence by suggesting we just repeat party line as instructed. Nothing could be further from the truth!

  16. Steven M

    The right-wing blogging ‘echo chamber’ certainly are a touchy lot, judging by their response to Will’s original piece.

  17. Shamik Das

    They’re also pretty worked up over our article on the “Global Poverty Promise” campaign:

    //www.leftfootforward.org/2010/02/campaign-launched-to-commit-britain-to-spending-0-point-7-per-cent-of-national-income-on-development-aid/#comments

    Nice new Tories? Pull the other one!

  18. dizzy

    Can I just say…. FIRST!

    Sorry, didn’t mean to lower the tone, but I’m a NetNerd, couldn’t help myself and I forgot to do it earlier.

    Please carry on with the futile discussion, just ignore me.

  19. simon

    When you are up against the Mcbrides/drapers/simons/campbells/browns of this world you have to learn to fight scum with fire. (is there a mixed something or other there?)

  20. The Blue Idea » Sssh, us Tory bloggers are planning something!

    […] Tsar” Kerry McCarthy. Alongside even more ridiculous claims, such as bloggers will be getting 7am briefing emails and be expected to parrot them – despite nothing of the sort ever being mentioned. In fact, […]

  21. Rob

    Well out of all this i have some new blogs to follow. Danke lff.

  22. charlie whelan

    Due to birthday celebrations yesterday missed this excellent piece on Tory Bloggers //bit.ly/d59xUt

  23. CCHQ is watching you as Tory high command co-ordinates right wing bloggers | Political Scrapbook

    […] Foot Forward were among a number of sites covering Tory blogger’s boozy hospitality on the Ashcroft dollar. Within minutes of publication, a piece on Eric Pickles’ briefing to […]

  24. Platform 10 » Blog Archive » Will Straw Fails To Understand The Tory Blogosphere

    […] a fan of Left Foot Forward.  It is amongst the list of ‘must read’ blogs.  But in an article a few days ago, they completely misunderstood the nature of the Tory […]

  25. Steve

    @BenCooper86 For me the credibility of @leftfootfwd was shot when they ran this story //bit.ly/co8c5V . I was there – total rubbish!

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