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Monday, October 01, 2007

Taking It To The Max

According to the Tory press, Gordon has been lying and cheating in his Conference Speech. Such accusations just demonstrate how ignorant people are about the role of PR in showing the truth to its best effect. I'm proud to defend "the Max Beadnell story" against such slurs. Thankfully, no such defence is necessary when it comes to The Hackney Groveller, which dutifully printed our PR output as issued.

People often scoff about my job, likening the noble profession of public relations consultancy to one of those sordid occupations carried out by lesser members of Hackney Council Labour Group, such as estate agency, financial brokerage and journalism. But we often do a spiffingly good job in helping the Labour Party to promote its brand image as successfully as other corporations such as Pepsi-Cola and Nike.

Take Gordon's Conference speech, for instance. First off, congratulations to Rory Bremner for pointing out that there may be a connection between its 80 references to "Britain" and "British" and our Prime Minister's initials. Very funny. More relevant was Gordon's wonderful piece about aspiration and opportunity in which he talked about talent wasted through a poverty of aspiration, youngsters growing up with no stars to reach for and the need to build a Britain where there is no ceiling on where your talents and hard work can take you. New Labour, declared Gordon, is now the party of aspiration and community... a strong Britain, a fairer Britain, putting people and their potential first.

Now a great piece of oratory like that needs a great practical example. And that's where we PR consultants come in. I mean, there are thousands of kids in Hackney with low aspirations who eventually succeed through their own efforts. The trouble is finding the little bastards. So it's not really cheating when we find "one of our own" to act the part. I mean, what do you expect? You don't think those housewives to rush out to buy Persil are really housewives, do you? It's just a creative representation of the truth. Why people object and refer to people like me in derogatory terms as a "spin doctor" I simply cannot understand. We are the creators of enduring images of the truth. And spellbinding characters who represent that truth in a way that the real characters could never do... well, not unless they've spent some time at Anna Scher. Just listen to Gordon at Conference talking about poor, disadvantaged inner-city schoolboy Max Beadnell. And then look at the amazing video shot at Max's school to illustrate the success of New Labour's "Reading Recovery" programme:

Max is a good example of the new Hackney schoolkid, after a decade of gentrification of the Borough under our wonderful New Labour Council. His parents come from a well-educated middle-class background and he attends Lauriston school on the edge of Victoria Park - the most affluent part of Hackney.

Spinning a good tale with Max HeadroomMax's parents are typical of the new money families who vote New Labour and help us to control the Borough. His mother Alison is a fashion designer and former lecturer at the London College of Fashion before she set up her own children's clothing label. She has subsequently returned to teaching and now works as a freelance designer. Max's father Andrew is an architect with DLG, a well-established and prestigious practice with offices in London and Leeds. Thanks to New Labour, they have been able to step up the property ladder recently from a flat near to the school to a £340,000 house elsewhere in the borough.

Of course, we didn't just choose Lauriston school because it's in a rich, leafy part of Hackney. We also chose the school because of its solid and traditional links to the Labour Party. Which, of course, is why the footage of Gordon with Max was filmed by officials from our National Press Office and then distributed to the media. After all, we wouldn't want nosy journalists to question our heart-rending story, now would we?

Of course the truth is that several of Lauriston's governing body are Labour political activists and one of them, Joannie Andrews, is the former Chair of Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP. The Chair of Governors at Lauriston, John Slyce, is married to the Hon Tamsin Jay - granddaughter of former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan and daughter of Labour peer Baroness Jay, a Health Minister in Tony Blair's Government. Tamsin, who was educated at the fee-paying St Paul's Girls' School and my almer mater, Bristol University, famously told a newspaper in 1997 that it was "really nice" going to the Prime Minister's country residence at Chequers "because it had an indoor pool" and that she had been allowed to "peek inside" the Cabinet Room at Downing Street. She and her husband - an American art critic and writer - live in a £1.7million loft apartment on a luxury development near to Lauriston school.

These people are the good, decent, salt-of-the-earth Hackney residents who New Labour exists to represent. I'm proud of what we've achieved and looking forward to another decade of progressive change after we thrash the Tories in next month's elections. After all - what possible relevance are they to the electors of Hackney? The Tories remain what they have always been - a party of the privileged, well-connected, affluent elite.

1 comment:

Elise Cordwainer said...

Pretty obvious why this particular boy was chosen, then! He's got the magic coiffure.