Katie Perrior is Chair, and Aisha Vance-Cuthbert and Laura Dunn are co-Directors of Conservatives in Communications
Once again, thank you for your continued support and to those who participated in the CiC Census 2020. The anonoymised and aggregated data is a helpful guide for everyone concerned.
As a reminder, we invited all supporters to weigh in and we received a strong response. In particular, we polled gender (25% of respondents are female) and invited everyone to suggest how we should get more women involved. We received plenty of comments (125 in total!), including some constructive feedback and ideas. We read each and every one.
Before we get underway, let’s remind ourselves about our group: Tories in Comms is an independent, voluntary and informal industry network for conservatives who work in our sector. While we have a role to play and take our responsibilities seriously, there are others who must take the lead.
For example, while it’s great that just over half of all MPs elected in 2019 were Conservative (365 of 650), it’s also disappointing that – just like our base – only one quarter of them are women (87 of 365). The Party must do more to improve this, and outfits such as the Conservative Women’s Organisation and Women2Win continue to play an important role.
Women are under-represented as senior leaders within the worlds of PR and PA. Other groups, such as Women in PA and Women in PR agree, and they too continue to make a difference; though businesses must do even more.
In a similar vein, the Party, businesses and network must do more to ensure the membership, workforce and base are ethnically diverse.
Let’s look at how we can improve things.
Us and you
Our core team is 50% female, including our chair and two directors. Laura is our women’s lead while Finley Morris is our lead on young people, including, yes, young women. Men have a role to play in encouraging gender parity.
We will continue to advertise all volunteer positions in our newsletter as well as on our website and social media.
There are several organisations doing an excellent job to encourage female participation. We don’t want to duplicate efforts, rather promote each other’s respective work.
Today, we’ve agreed to work closely with Women2Win and Women in PA, and we look forward to working together on future events and content. You will find them highlighted on our website.
Historically, our group was 100% focused on networking and there was a preference for after-work drink receptions. For the past 12 months, we’ve continued down that path with events on Wednesdays, 6-8pm. However, we recognise that format doesn’t suit everybody, especially women with children and/or those based outside London, and therefore we commit to hosting breakfast and lunch events. We will also look to vary our guest speakers and topics and virtual events. Where we can meet in-person, name tags will also be provided, and we’ll do whatever we can to make all our events welcoming and inclusive. While our Summer Reception has been cancelled and Conservative Party Conference is unlikely to go ahead as planned, we’ll do our very best to host face-to-face events soon.
Our commitment to female involvement has been there from the get-go. All three of our most recent events since our relaunch featured women: Lord Black hosted a Q&A with Katie, Kulveer Ranger hosted a Q&A with the Home Secretary Priti Patel MP and Katie chaired a panel on the 2019 election. We will continue to invite high profile women, including our parliamentary patrons like Baroness McIntosh as well as MPs Esther McVey, Joy Morrissey, Nickie Aiken, Siobhan Baillie and Theo Clarke, and we commit to having at least one female speaker at every CiC event.
All supporters are invited to submit content for our newsletter, and to be promoted on our website and social media, and we really encourage you to do so especially if you have something to add on this issue.
Mentoring and profiling
Almost three quarters of survey respondents are interested in becoming a mentor while two thirds are looking for a mentor. Throughout 2020, we will profile our female supporters. Watch this space for details of both of these ideas.
We don’t assume people know about Tories in Comms, so we’ll continue to promote the group, by partnering with organisations and leveraging social media.
We also encourage every supporter to invite one female friend or colleague to sign-up to the network and attend an event.
OUR 12-POINT PLAN
We will advertise all volunteer positions
We will work with our partners on events and content
We will host both breakfast and lunch events
We will vary up both speakers and topics
We will use nametags at events going forward
We will ensure our events are both welcoming and inclusive
We will continue to invite high profile women
We will strive for at least one female speaker per industry event
We will encourage women to submit content for our newsletter
We will launch our mentoring scheme
We will do more to promote the network and supporters
We will encourage supporters to encourage others to sign-up.
Our commitment is real, but we cannot do this on our own, so whether it’s encouraging your female friends and colleagues to join us or writing a piece for our e-newsletter, please do get involved. A final note to all our male supporters – thank you for everything you do which helps us progress and succeed. We’re fully aware that most of our career progression has been through decisions made by men and while we want to see more females in these leadership roles, we’re thankful for that support from our male colleagues over the years.
A survey conducted by Conservatives in Communications (CiC), the independent and informal industry network for over 435 professionals, reveals that its supporters are optimistic about the future of the sector (7.24 out of 10), with 99% in employment. The positive findings come as the Government looks to ease lockdown measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This in spite of 62% feeling that the mainstream media (MSM) is not providing balanced and unbiased reporting. Bloomberg and the BBC ranked as the most trustworthy news brands while Al Jazeera and Russia Today ranked as the least trustworthy.
The group, which is marking one year since it was relaunched by its chair Katie Perrior and principal director Adam Honeysett-Watts, has been encouraging supporters – including 23 parliamentary patrons – to take part in its inaugural Census 2020. In addition to its industry patrons, a new tier of Tory peers and MPs – who have previously worked or have an interest in communications (public affairs, PR, policy, digital, marketing, events, journalism or publishing) – have recently signed-up. The team has also been widened to build out its offering to young conservatives and to get more women involved.
Survey respondents were largely positive about the Government’s original ‘Stay home’ message (4.49 out of 5). They scored all nine aspects of the daily press briefings, such as stage management and inviting the public to submit their questions, as effective; with the Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised as the most impressive performer. That said, there is little appetite for the conferences to become a permanent fixture. Further, supporters were invited to submit ideas for a new slogan or comment on the ‘Stay alert’ message. Of those who did, 69% proposed an alternative, which may have contributed to a lower score of 3.18 out of 5 for the Government’s overall strategy.
Turning to other topics. While 73% of participants benefited from flexible working and / or working from home (WFH) before the pandemic began, 90% will be advocating for this post-lockdown. Perhaps unsurprisingly, supporters do not miss commuting to and from work (77%), and many used this available time to spend with the family and to ‘think’ more about their work. Professionals have adapted quite well to the changes with 44% saying they have been more productive, especially when it comes to producing written materials for both internal and external clients. 42% said they’re more active while 41% have reallocated earnings.
Katie Perrior, Chair of iNHouse Communications and a former Director of Communications at Number 10, said:
“Our supporters have risen to the challenges posed by the country’s response to the global pandemic. That aside, we’re a people industry – our successes are built on networking and relationships. Although the many technologies – for example, Microsoft Teams and Zoom – have worked much better than expected, they are no substitute for face-to-face. Survey respondents cited less time with colleagues (60%) and friends (45%) as reasons they like least about WFH. I too, look forward to seeing my colleagues and clients as well as family and friends, in-person, very soon.”
Adam Honeysett-Watts said:
“We spotted an opportunity to relaunch and grow CiC into a more dynamic, proactive, diverse and transparent resource, and the pandemic has shown how much one is needed. While industry networking is the main reason our supporters joined us and continue to be involved, there is appetite for us to offer more. That includes advertising job opportunities (63%), sharing industry news (61%), connecting with our parliamentary patrons (59%), widening blog content (55%) as well as offering careers advice and mentoring opportunities (50%). Many of these are already in the works, including the latter, where 72% of supporters cited interest in being mentors.”
Note to Editors
You can learn more about the survey and access all of the results here.
The inaugural CiC Census launched on May 6, 2020, and ran for two weeks. It was promoted in our newsletter, on our website as well as via LinkedIn and Twitter. All supporters (429 at the time) were invited to participate, of whom 154 did (so, 36%). The average time taken to complete it was nine minutes – lower than was indicated. These are the anonymised and aggregated survey results.
65 and over
94% of respondents are under 54 vs the average party member who, based on news reports, is 57 years old.
A quarter of respondents are female.
White: English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Asian
Any other Mixed / Multiple ethnic background
Asian / Asian British: Indian
Any other White background
Mixed / Multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean
Black / African / Caribbean / Black British: African
Any other Black / African / Caribbean background
Other ethnic group: Arab
(Excluding those who preferred not to say) 85% of respondents are White British and Northern Irish.
ABOUT YOUR WORK
4. Where do you work – usually and for the most part?
Outside of London
86% of respondents work in London.
5. How would you categorise your employment – for the most part?
Agency / Consultancy
Not-for-profit / Charity*
UK Parliament / Constituency
Civil Service, including Number 10
UK Government, including Number 10
The Conservative Party
Two-fifths of respondents work for a consultancy vs 38% in-house*. Employment is at 99%.
6. How would you categorise your role – usually and for the most part?
Public affairs / Government relations / Lobbying
Public relations / Media relations / Corporate communications / Financial PR
Other, including Member of Parliament or Peer
Digital communications / Social media
UK Parliament / Constituency
56% of respondents work in public affairs vs 28% in public relations.
7. How would you categorise your seniority in the industry?
Director / Head*
CEO / Director General*
Chairman / Non-Executive Director*
Other, including Member of Parliament or Peer
53% of respondents are director level and above*.
8. Have you been, are you or would you like to be a:
Member of Parliament?
Two-thirds of respondents have an interest in the SpAd career path. Less than half think the same about being an MP.
ABOUT YOUR SUPPORT
9. When did you join us?
Before our relaunch in May 2019
After our relaunch in May 2019
About two-thirds of respondents have joined since our relaunch.
10. How did you discover us – in the first instance?
Colleague / Friend
Social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter
Word of mouth
News article e.g. ConservativeHome.com
38% of respondents joined because of a colleague / friend vs 32% via social media.
11. Why did you join us?
Contribute ideas and content
Respondents cited industry networking (86%) and the social aspect (51%) as main reasons for joining us.
12. Are you interested in being:
Mentored by another supporter?
A mentor to another supporter?
(Excluding those who don’t know) Almost three quarters of respondents are interested in becoming a mentor while two thirds are interested in being mentored.
14. Would you or your firm be interested in learning more about:
Hosting and / or sponsoring an event for us?
Contributing and / or sponsoring content on our blog / in our newsletter?
(Excluding those who don’t know)Half of respondents and / or their firms are interested in hosting and / or sponsoring an event for us in the future.Please get in touch.
ABOUT OUR EVENTS
15. Since May 2019, we have organised three events with speakers:
Relaunch: Lord Black in conversation with Katie Perrior
Autumn: Kulveer Ranger in conversation with The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Spring: Industry panel with Sir Robbie Gibb, Paul Goodman and Professor Goodwin. How many of these did you:
One or more
50% of respondents have attended one or more of our networking events vs 58% who registered.
16. How could we improve our events?
17. If you couldn’t attend any of our events, after RSVPing, what was the reason why?
Change of heart
(Excluding N/A) 76% of respondents were distracted by work and personal commitments.
18. As of right now, are you planning to attend:
CiC Summer Reception 2020?
Conservative Party Conference 2020?
(Excluding those who don’t know) Fourth-fifths of respondents are still planning to attend party conference in Birmingham.
ABOUT OUR CONTENT
19. Do you:
Read our newsletter?
Visit our website?
86% of respondents read our newsletter while 51% visit our new website.
20. How can we improve our newsletter and website?
21. What would you like to be in the newsletter?
Industry updates (summarised news)
Hear from our parliamentary patrons
Hear from our industry patrons
Hear from our chair
Hear from our directors
Competitions / quizzes
81% of respondents would like to receive invitations to events, but other factors are gaining traction.
ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT’S COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY AND MEDIA
22. How would you rate the UK Government’s Covid-19 communications strategy?
Mean average3.18 out of 5. Average score.
23. How would you rate the original ‘Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’ slogan?
Mean average 4.49 out of 5. Good score.
24. What, if at all, should the new slogan be?
25. Which Cabinet minister has impressed you the most (at the podium and during interviews)?
Respondents are most impressed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer –over other cabinet ministers. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary follow behind. Two cabinet ministers received no votes. The Home Secretary was the only woman in the mix.
26. How would you rate these aspects of the daily press briefings?(Out of 5)
The visual look: setting, podiums, branding
Inviting the public to ask questions
Regularity of daily briefings
Use of visual aides
Simplicity of the messaging
Variety of the spokespeople
Duration of daily briefings
Respondents were positive about all nine aspects of the daily press briefings. Visuals strongest, duration weakest (time-keeping an issue as per the comments).
27. Do you think Number 10 should host daily televised press briefings in the future?
(Excluding those who don’t know) While the daily press briefings have been largely successful, there is little appetite for them to become a permanent fixture akin to The White House.
28. Some polling indicates that trust in the mainstream media (MSM) is lower than before the pandemic. Overall, do you believe the MSM has provided balanced and unbiased reporting?
Almost two-thirds of respondents believe the MSM is failing to provide balanced and unbiased reporting.
29. How trustworthy are these news brands?(Out of 5)
In terms of trustworthiness, half of the news brands received positive scores, with Bloomberg and the BBC leading the pack. Russia Today, by quite some margin, and Al Jazeera received the lowest eighted averages.
ABOUT THE FUTURE
30. Were you able to take advantage of flexible working or work from home schemes before the pandemic?
73% of respondents benefited from flexible working and / or working from home before the lockdown.
31. Will you be advocating for the same or more flexible working or working from home schemes after the pandemic?
Having made a success of it, 90% of respondents will be advocating for the same or more flexible working and / or working from home after the lockdown eases.
32. What did you like most about working from home?
More time to be active
More money for other things
More time with family
Time to really think
Trust from my manager
Respondents do not miss the commute, are taking advantage of flexible working and two-fifths are more productive.
33. What did you like least about working from home?
Less time with colleagues
Distinguishing between work / home
Less time with friends
Making a decent routine
Preferred my old routine
Juggling my family responsibilities
Less time with family
Respondents are missing their colleagues and their friends, and three-fifths struggle to distinguish between work and home.
34. “I’m optimistic about the future of our sector.” Where do you stand on that position statement?
Mean average7.24 out of 10. Good score.
35. All things considered, do you feel being a supporter of us is worthwhile?
97% of respondents feel being a supporter of our network is worthwhile.
36. Right now, Conservatives in Communications is staffed by volunteers and is limited in the services it can provide. The cost of maintaining our website and platforms (Eventbrite, MailChimp, SurveyMonkey and WordPress etc), time, travel and very limited entertaining is covered by the staff themselves. Would you be willing to contribute a small annual amount to continue receiving added valued newsletters based on more options as in Q21?
62% of respondents would be willing to contribute a small annual amount to the upkeep of the network.
37. How much would you be willing to pay per annum?
Up to £20
Up to £25
Up to £30
Up to £49
Up to £35
£50 or more
60% of respondents would be willing to contribute up to £20 per annum.
38. Please let us know about any other feedback you have.
GUEST POST: Fraser Raleigh is an Associate Director at Newington Communications and a former Conservative Special Adviser. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn
So much of politics takes place in the margins; politicians physically bumping into each other in the corridor, in the MPs-only tearoom, and in the division lobbies.
It’s not just backbenchers; an industrious minister can often achieve far more huddled with a colleague before or after some dry Cabinet sub-committee than in the meeting itself.
All those chance encounters and snatched conversations are out for as long as the new ways of working are in.
MPs have accepted those ways of working to ensure scrutiny of the Government without risking the health of those who have to be in Westminster, and have adapted well to meetings on Zoom instead of in Portcullis House.
While the new proceedings are working well enough, whenever you change the nature of Parliament you change the nature of the politics that takes place within it.
We last saw this after the expenses scandal.
Select Committees became relevant, capable of setting the news agenda with high-profile Chairs elected by all MPs and evidence sessions people actually wanted to tune in to. Campaigning backbenchers saw new routes to push their causes through debate slots that they – not the Government – controlled, and online petitions opened up greater public involvement in what Parliament debates.
The type of person coming into Parliament changed and, with the later introduction of recall, even the person themselves occasionally changed mid-Parliament.
It will be up to MPs whether to keep any of the more radical changes, such as electronic voting, that have been pitched to them as temporary, but there will certainly be other opportunities for longer-term innovation.
Select Committees – already early adopters of technology before the crisis – lend themselves to more creative scrutiny, with witnesses perhaps appearing virtually at shorter notice, or Committee visits being livestreamed.
The political agenda, too, will change as society reassesses what it collectively values, and politicians try to anticipate the public mood.
Debates on issues as varied as supply chain resilience, broadband and 5G, social care, and the future of the BBC will be shaped by the public’s experience of the crisis and politicians’ response.
Engagement has clearly changed, too, as social distancing takes away opportunities to build relationships in the way we have become accustomed to.
As we get used to working without that face-to-face contact, it will be more important than ever to prioritise arguments that anticipate and respond to the changed political agenda and demand attention at a time when MPs and ministers have far less bandwidth.
We don’t yet know what permanent changes we will be left with, but we can be sure that whenever it is safe for MPs to go back to bumping into each other they will be doing so in a Parliament – and a political environment – that is different to the ones they left.
If you have ideas for the group or would like to get involved, please email us.
GUEST POST: Callum Attew is a Senior Account Executive at ENGINE MHP. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn
Has the Government been an effective communicator throughout the pandemic?
The original slogan deployed by Her Majesty’s Government – in response to the coronavirus pandemic – reached every household across all four UK nations. It’s a clear message that conveyed a sense of urgency. It also instilled a sense of duty among the public; that, in order to protect our loved ones, as well as our much treasured NHS, everyone must play their part.
With Google data (April 5, 2020) showing that retail and recreation movement had fallen by 82% compared to the baseline, it was apparent that the language – leveraged across all advertising channels and lecterns at the daily press briefings – really resonated with the British people.
Now, we’ve seen this messaging logic before – it’s nothing new. “Get Brexit done” and “Take back control” spring to mind as recent examples of how the ‘rule of three’ has been used to condense seemingly complex issues into digestible pledges. It’s a tried and tested formula that delivers solid results.
As we move through this crisis, and as the strategy to defeat the virus becomes convoluted, there is potential for messaging to become muddied. Indeed, if a slogan is mistaken as a substitute for detail, then the frailties of the communications strategy will be laid bare for all to see.
When the Government unveiled its new slogan, instructing the British public to “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives”, there was an initial sense of confusion, among the media at least, as to what it wanted the public to do. While it appeared that the clarity of the initial message had been lost, it would’ve been naïve to suggest that the Government had lost control of the messaging. Indeed, as the strategy shifts, it would be detrimental to its success for the message to remain static.
The Prime Minister’s ‘Address to the Nation’ on Sunday evening, where a new slogan was given its debut, may have initially left the public wanting details to the questions that it raised. However, from a communications perspective it was vital. In pivotal moments in the nation’s history, it is incumbent on any prime minister to go to the people and explain the situation that the country finds itself in and outline how the government intends to guide them through it. This was one of those moments.
The changes to the strategy had to be understood by everyone – from the 18-year-old in Newcastle, wanting to meet-up with friends, to the 80-year-old grandmother in Nuneaton, who wants to hug her grandchildren.
This is where building on the Prime Minister’s statement, and the supplementary documents provided by the Government, is vital in providing clarity – in this sense, the messenger becomes just as important as the message.
On Monday, the Prime Minister was once again flanked by Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance at the daily press briefing. The public needed reassurance that what is being asked of them is in their best interests and will not compromise their health. Scientific experts are the individuals best placed to provide this message and earn trust.
The Government is also placing a large degree of trust in the public to take note of the subtle changes to the lockdown period and to respect what is being asked of them when it comes to social distancing initiatives. And, in order to ‘Stay alert’, a large degree of common sense is at play – it would be over fastidious to expect a handbook with a Q&A of every single possible situation that may arise, and such a thing would call into question the relationship between citizen and state.
So, in answer to the original question – yes, at times government messaging has been incredibly effective. Though, let’s not forget that it has come up against its challenges. Now, as individual UK nations seek to implement different measures, the message is at risk of being confused. Clarity and direction need to be at the heart of future communications. Discipline of message cannot be lost. The health of the nation depends on it.
I look forward to seeing the results of the CiC Census 2020, but these are my initial thoughts!
If you have ideas for the group or would like to get involved, please email us.
Lionel Zetter is Patron of Conservatives in Communications
Conservatives in Communications is open to all communicators who identify with the aims and values of the UK Conservative Party. Its chair, directors, patrons and supporters include politicians and journalists as well as communications professionals from every branch of that broad discipline.
However, given the political connection it is not surprising that public affairs professionals make up a substantial proportion of the CiC membership. Public affairs – or lobbying – is often regarded by outsiders as being some sort of dark and mysterious art. In reality, it is a straight-forward trade, with few secrets, but also few short-cuts.
I have worked in public affairs for 40 years, at large and small consultancies, in-house and as a freelancer. Sometimes, I am asked if there is a secret to the (admittedly modest) success I’ve enjoyed. My response is always that there is no secret, but there is a key. That key is relationships.
But, relationships have to be instigated and established, and then constantly nurtured. And that takes time. Because instigating and then establishing and then deepening relationships can only be done through networking – often outside of office hours.
So, over the course of my career, I’ve joined every trade and professional body I can, and used every networking opportunity that presents itself. Apart from Conservatives in Communications (which I helped to set up), I’ve joined (and sometimes headed) the CIPR, Government Affairs Group, PRCA and The Enterprise Forum. On top of these formal bodies, I have also supported and attended events ranging from PubAffairs Networking to (back in the day) Village Drinks. Then, of course, there are the party conferences – every networkers’ wet dream!
I did all this because I enjoy socialising, and let’s be honest – I also enjoy the occasional drink. But more than that, way more than that, attending networking events enables you to make new contacts and reinforce relationships. They help you to break out of the echo chamber and talk to people with different political views and colleagues from different communications disciplines. They enable you to promote your own views, but even more importantly, to listen to and argue with people from different backgrounds who hold divergent views. And, if you decide to write a book (plug alert), such as Lobbying, the Art of Political Persuasion, networking will help you to persuade people to contribute passages to the book – and maybe even to buy a copy!
So, if you want to get on in the wonderful overlapping worlds of politics and communications, my advice is to network like crazy, and to cherish and nurture the relationships that flow from those varying events.
And, if you are a Conservative and work in communications – I’m sure that you know what to do…
Today, we are pleased to launch our inaugural network survey – Conservatives in Communications (CiC) Census 2020 – and invite all supporters to participate! This is your once-a-year opportunity to provide feedback, so we can better serve you and add more value going forward.
ONLY SUPPORTERS CAN PARTICIPATE. CHECK EMAIL FOR LINK
As you will know, we are an independent and informal industry network that presents like-minded individuals with the opportunity to mingle, gossip and share ideas, and, where appropriate, provide sector expertise to the Party machine.
We relaunched in 2019 – with a new chair and directors, a website and some social media – and our mission is to be more dynamic, proactive, diverse and transparent than in previous years. Please do take a moment to review what we consider to be our top 10 achievements to date:
Rebuilt the network to 400 professionals, from a real variety of backgrounds
“Tories in Comms has accomplished a lot in 12 months and I believe it has a bright future; adding value to supporters’ professional and personal lives. Based on the conversations I’ve had, there is real appetite to do even more – we just need to agree on the priorities. This survey presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. Thanks in advance for your contribution!”
–Katie Perrior, Chair of iNHouse Communications and CiC
“I’ve been a supporter of Tories in Comms for several years and was grateful for your support during the general election campaign. I would recommend the group to all conservatives in communications, so that they benefit from the networking and business development opportunities as well as the chance to contribute ideas and content via its blog and newsletter.”
–Theo Clarke MP, Patron and an early Supporter of CiC
Invites supporters to complete inaugural survey, including reaction to Covid-19 strategy
Conservatives in Communications (CiC), the independent and informal industry network for professionals, marks one year since the group was relaunched.
The network now boasts almost 400 supporters from a variety of backgrounds. Iain Anderson and Kulveer Ranger are among those providing business expertise as industry patrons, while circa 20 peers and MPs – largely from the 2010, 2015 and 2019 intakes – form a new tier of parliamentary patrons who represent a number of different interests.
Katie Perrior, chair of iNHouse Communications and a former Director of Communications at No.10, remains as figurehead of the group. Adam Honeysett-Watts – with the support of Aisha Vance-Cuthbert and Alec Zetter – manage day-to-day operations. Finley Morris was recently brought on to develop and drive its dedicated youth effort.
The network has organised a number of events in Westminster and off Fleet Street, including a Q&A with the Home Secretary Priti Patel MP and a panel discussion about lessons learned from the general election campaign, featuring Sir Robbie Gibb, Professor Matthew Goodwin and Paul Goodman of ConservativeHome.com. BECG, Ellwood Atfield and Kekst CNC sponsored them.
In addition, the group has an active industry blog and circulates regular e-newsletters; the latest of which encourages supporters to participate in its inaugural survey: Conservatives in Communications (CiC) Census 2020. The census is being billed as a “once-a-year opportunity to provide feedback, so we can better serve you and add more value going forward.”
The survey comes at a critical time for the industry as professionals get to grip with Covid-19. It includes questions about the government’s communications strategy, current and future slogans, highly rated Cabinet ministers, future televised press briefings, trustworthiness of the media, flexible working and work from home (WFH) schemes, and an optimism tracker.
Adam Honeysett-Watts, Principal Director, said:
“We’ve made good progress towards our mission to be a more dynamic, proactive, diverse and transparent industry resource. That said, there is much more we could and should be doing – when it comes to getting more women involved – so, we look forward to analysing the results, determining priorities and acting on them over the next year.”
For more information, including how to sign-up for events, email us. The findings are expected to be published in late May.
Adam Honeysett-Watts is Principal Director of Conservatives in Communications
I’m biased towards women. There, I said it.
Some of the best people I’ve worked with are women. Some of the best people I’ve hired are women. Some of the best people who’ve managed me are women. Some of the best people I’ve campaigned for are women and, some of my best moments include developing networks* for women.
You’ll find great women throughout the history books. Take The Dream of Romeby Boris Johnson for instance. Here, he discusses how the Roman Empire achieved political and cultural unity in Europe, and compares it to the failure of the European Union to do the same. We’re introduced to one of the most prominent women in Rome’s history : Octavia the Younger (69–11 BC) was the sister of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, and the fourth wife of Mark Antony – who had an affair with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. She became a political adviser and negotiator between her husband and brother, and was respected and admired by contemporaries for her loyalty to Rome.
Fast forward two millennia and travel two thousand kilometres to when and where another woman had risen to the top. The Leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher, was the first woman to be elected Prime Minister in the UK. During the 1975 Tory leadership election, she famously said this:
Now, I’m not going to argue with the Iron Lady! Last year, when I spotted an opportunity I worked with two women to get it done: Carol Freeman and I persuaded a former director of communications at No.10, Katie Perrior, to chair the network we wanted to relaunch – whose mission includes being more diverse. And, when Carol moved her family to the West Coast, I asked Aisha Vance-Cuthbert to step up.
Over 12 months, we’ve rebuilt Conservatives in Communications to almost 400 professionals, including 19 parliamentary patrons like Joy Morrissey, Nickie Aiken, Siobhan Baillie and Theo Clarke. We’ve hosted three events, including one with the Home Secretary Priti Patel. And, we’ve tasked individuals with establishing effective ways to improve diversity among our ranks.
That said, as of writing this, I guestimate only a quarter of our supporters are women. It’s clear to me and the whole team that we could and should be doing more – as a sector and a network – to encourage greater participation.
Next week, we will launch our inaugural survey – Conservatives in Communications (CiC) Census 2020 – an opportunity for supporters to give constructive feedback and make suggestions anonymously. I hope supporters take advantage of this, because, together, we can and will make a difference.
I look forward to seeing the final results and reading your comments, and to implementing the proposed recommendations. As a former board member, and adviser to the president, of UN Women UK, I’m going to practice what I preached then about equality and continue to encourage all genders to partake as agents of change.
* UN Women UK, DTCC Women’s Network in London and Conservatives in Communications
If you have ideas for the group or would like to get involved, please email us.
This piece was written for our website. I’ve opened up the comments section.
Adam Honeysett-Watts is Principal Director of Conservatives in Communications
I’ve been badgering folks to read more during the lockdown and decided to document them here (c.6,800 pages so far). The only sequence to the below is the order in which I finished them. This list combines non-fiction and fiction titles as well as political and non-political genres.
For consistency, all links direct to publisher sites or Amazon. For availability, check with your independent bookseller before online retailers. Publisher information relates to the copies I own.
Love him or loathe him, Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the US; but, how did we end up here? Turning Point USA’s founder-president sets out the ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) stall – the movement that brought Trump to the White House – and how he intends to win a second term (clue: ‘Keep America Great’ is the new slogan).
Professor Goodwin brought up ‘national populism’ – the 21st century conundrum, including MAGA, that’s challenging mainstream politics – at the Conservatives in Communications Spring 2020 Reception. This text goes further – beyond lazy stereotypes of Brexit and Trump supporters – and looks at what is next: will Matteo Salvini become the next Prime Minister of Italy?
Set in 1980s Italy – in fact, the film was directed about an hour from Salvini’s hometown of Milan – this real page-turner centres on the blossoming relationship between an intellectually precocious and curious teenager, Elio, and a visiting scholar, Oliver. It chronicles their short, summer romance and the 20 years that follow, which is developed in the sequel ‘Find Me’.
Billed as the sequel to ‘Call Me by Your Name’, this novel focuses on three romances: that of Elio’s father and a younger woman, called Miranda; that of Elio and an older man, called Michel; and that of Elio and yes, Oliver. If you discovered the former, you should definitely read this; though a word of warning – manage your expectations.
The Baroness was at the heart of David Cameron’s administration for over a decade. As one of the former prime minister’s most trusted advisors (deputy chief of staff), this is a must-read for any past, current and wannabe media or policy SpAd; it is full to the brim with snippets of information, including several new revelations.
This is a wide-ranging and colourful book – think Boris Johnson and Jeremy Clarkson on speed – that covers everything from his childhood to the present day and beyond. If you’ve seen some of his posts or follow Donald Trump, Jr. on social media and you’re (i) a conservative – you will love it, but if you’re (ii) anything else – I can’t really guarantee your reaction.
Like ‘The Gatekeeper’ – albeit early on in his career – this memoir, of his campaign to become the MP for Henley and endorsed by Jeremy Paxman, is essential reading for any Tory candidate. It is both educational and entertaining, and reflective of his personal style for The Telegraph and The Spectator, including phrases that are now synonymous with him.
The Literary Review is spot on here: “Disagree passionately if you will, but you won’t regret reading it.” The author dares to tread where others have avoided like the plague – focusing on three traditionally sensitive topics – however, in my opinion, he does it all rather well; although, perhaps, it could have been written with half as many words.
Now shadow arts minister, this was his first novel to be published, thereby making him the third novelist – after Disraeli and Churchill – to become prime minister. POTUS is set to address both Houses of Parliament and there’s an Islamist terrorist plot to assassinate him – Roger Barlow, a hapless backbench MP (hapless like the book), aims to foil the attack to distract from a scandal.
This is a map that seeks to answer one simple question: who is Matteo Salvini, really? As both vice-prime minister and minister of the interior (in 2018) the number of non-European illegal immigrants to land in Italy fell by 100,000, and – if current polls are to be believed and his digital and media strategy is anything to go by – he is on course to become their next prime minister.
Published just after he was elected as Mayor of London (first term), this is an anthology of some of his best articles for the Daily Telegraph – such as observations on British society and foreign affairs (including China) – coupled with several new hits. As with both ‘Friends, Voters, Countrymen’ and ‘The Churchill Factor’, this is educational, entertaining and easy to read.
Along with another Steve (Bannon) and Dominic Cummings, Hilton is one of the political mavericks of our age. Here – in a similar vein to his ‘Invitation to Join the Government of Britain’ (Conservative Party 2010 manifesto) – he begins with an ‘invitation for you to participate in the next revolution’ and puts forward interesting ideas on the economy, society and government.
Now shadow education minister, here, he discusses how the Roman Empire achieved political and cultural unity in Europe, and compares it to the failure of the European Union to do the same. Not usually one for historical books, this is both an authoritative and amusing study – with plenty of lessons for all of us – and I read it in a few sittings.
This week marks over three decades since Britain elected its first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Sir Bernard’s a journalist and former civil servant, who served as the Iron Lady’s chief press secretary throughout her time in No10. We hear first-hand (and slowly) how spin-doctoring developed, from the man who is wrongly attributed with its invention.
I’d read mixed reviews about this, but purchased a copy, since I enjoyed ‘The MAGA Doctrine’ and wanted to see whether Charlie’s experiences resonated with my own young conservative days. Bit pricey, considering how short the text is; however, there’s good intention and some decent content – if you ignore the partisan approach, marketing pitch and re-printings of his tweets!
Described by The Economist as “the Kremlin’s leading critic-in-exile” (after eight years inside he now resides in London),this is a selection of brilliantly written essays about the author’s first hand accounts of prison life and the people he encountered. It is a clever and quick read, and more people should be made aware of it.
Akin to ‘Campus Battlefield’, I’d heard mixed reviews and all of the drama around its release just made me want to read it more. The reality, in my opinion, is that the contents of the book, while certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, are far less controversial than its publication (even boring in parts) – conservatives will largely agree with his message while liberals will largely disagree.
The celebrated artist and media personality Grayson Perry explores masculinity. In short, I think it is well written (and illustrated) – although it took me a while to get into it; however, I didn’t feel there was anything new and therefore, at best, it’s a conversation starter (perhaps that alone might be considered a success?)
Ignoring the endless typos (I have never spotted so many typos in one book – did anyone proof it?), I really enjoyed reading this biography. The author successfully combines old and fresh information to tell us the story about one of the most recognisable and central characters in British politics today.
I only learned about this text having read Owen Bennett’s book on the man (see above), but glad I did. In writing ‘Celsius 7/7’, which describes how the West’s policy of appeasement has provoked yet more fundamentalist terror, Gove names both Dominic Cummings and Douglas Murray among those whose conversations and ideas helped shape his thinking.
A man who’s been there at pivotal moments: Chairman of the Party (winning the 1992 election, but losing his own Bath seat), the last Governor of Hong Kong, Chairman of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland (pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement) and Chairman of the BBC Trust (when the Jimmy Savile scandal broke). Absolutely captivating.
Fiona’s first novel addresses love and corruption in the seat of power – from a female perspective. However, for anyone – of either sex, who has worked in Parliament or on Whitehall, I believe they will enjoy this – and perhaps associate with some of the content – and look forward to her second book, which is in the works.
I didn’t read this in 2016, however I decided to now since he’s seeking re-election. In a similar vein to ‘The MAGA Doctrine’, you get a better feel what the 45th President of the US does and doesn’t believe, but this time you get to judge him on his record in office as well as in business. I wonder if Boris has read it too (“get it done” p.123 and “shovel-ready projects” p.165)?
A friend of mine bought this for my 18th birthday (I’m not sure what she was hinting at) and, though I’ve watched the 2019 film adaptation, I’ve never got round to reading this gift – until now, during lockdown. Another book I wish I’d read earlier as the writing is beautiful and I’ve a lot to learn.
I’m a fan of Dan Hodges, so it wasn’t a difficult choice to pick-up a copy of this book (in 2016), but what was difficult is the first chapter, which I still think is waffle (I decided to give it another go four years later). Get past that first chapter though and it takes off – a smart and unique account of the 2015 general election campaign and the three party leaders.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
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