Scottish Unionist leader Ruth Davidson has hired a spin doctor from a controversial private healthcare firm to work for her at Holyrood.
Gordon Hector will head up her press and research team, from offices based at Holyrood. He was previously head of communications for Circle Healthcare, the first private company to run an NHS hospital in England in an experiment that went badly awry.
Circle took over struggling Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, which had 250 beds, 1,500 staff and a Pounds 111 million budget, in a 10-year contract in 2012. Three years later the Care Quality Commission branded the hospital “inadequate”, it was put into special measures. Circle then pulled out of the deal early admitting it could not find the savings needed to make the hospital financially sustainable.
He was previously a senior speech-writer at the Department for Education, writing for Conservative junior ministers and Michael Gove, the then Secretary of State. He also worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, where he was its public affairs manager. He began his career at Fishburn Hedges (Media Management), working on public affairs and media accounts.
Ruth Davidson and Profiling
Davidson’s profile has risen in recent months, in recognition of her parties improved performance at the last Scottish parliamentary elections. She has also moved the party to the “right” of Scottish politics and now claims, with some pride that she leads the only Unionist party in Scotland.
Labour and the Lib-Dem’s have been sidelined in preference to their support of a “Federalist” UK within Europe. The result in Scottish political terms is a return to the two party system.
Ruth Davidson now has a media Svengali (Gordon Hector) who provides advice, direction and guidance, in the presentation of her policies in Holyrood, the media and in public. Under his mentoring she has distanced herself from the images of, “Buffalo Bill from Maryhill” and “Tommy the Tank Engine” to stateswoman.
Evidenced from her recent bellicose performances in parliament she is basing her character on Margaret Thatcher and in this venture she could have no better mentor than Gordon Hector who wrote his thesis at University on his favourite politician. (https://conservativehistory.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/chj-winter-2009-10.pdf)
Other aspects of promoting the new image include referring to the party as “Unionist” since the word “Conservative” still rankles Scots of all political persuasion.
Another tactic favoured by Hector is the use of the “Content Seeding” strategy through the extensive broadcasting of good news items (using internet social media sites Facebook and twitter are two examples) greatly favouring Ruth Davidson whilst attacking Nicola Sturgeon.
In Nicola Sturgeon’s case this entails allocating a group of staff to search Facebook and Twitter creating a database of any any person that may have posted a negative comment about Nicola. The database is the driver for negative “Content Seeding”. Time consuming but effective.
Public Relations Strategy – Content Seeding
The internet and the accompanying fast growth of Social media provides opportunity for the rapid spread of information targetted at specific individuals and groups and is being increasingly used by marketing and journalist professionals to get their messages across to a widespread community numbered in the millions. The title of the innovation is “Contract Seeding”.
Content Seeding aims to ensure widespread awareness for a politician by planting positive “seeds” across the web. These “seeds” consist of little content pieces, aiming to trigger the interest of a pre-determined target group. To ensure control all seeds are linked back to the main platform of corporate communication (this can be an article, a landing page or even the website itself).
Content Seeding triggers the interest of target groups reaching well beyond press releases and written content to promote the politician. Strategic planting of content on targetted platforms ensures fast forward sharing of the information through its target audience.
Balance is imperative and Content Seeding uses multimedia content across channels. The primary focus is to create content which target groups will be keen to receive, and consume, for information and strategic purposes but also for sharing with its peers. The result can be an instantaneous sharing of seeded content well beyond that which the information was designed to reach.
Seeding campaigns can be time consuming and staff intensive, ranging from the use of free sites to costly ventures.It is imperative that a cost benefit analysis is completed and presented to the client for approval before the event.
Contract Seeding in Action
Forsyth challenged the way in which Cameron played the English card in the immediate aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum by offering English MPs a greater say over English only laws. Later toughened up to a “veto” in the Conservative 2015 election manifesto.
He said: “David Cameron, instead of going up to Scotland the next day [after the referendum] and saying ‘look we’ve got to look at this now from the point of view of the whole United Kingdom’, started the English votes for English laws thing which was not a unionist position and that shattered the unionist alliance in Scotland against the breakup of the United Kingdom.
I personally don’t support English votes for English laws. It doesn’t seem to me to be a very good policy to try and deal with the rise of Scottish nationalism by stirring up English nationalism. We need to find ways of binding the United Kingdom together, of binding that partnership together.”
He added: “questioning the legitimacy of SNP MPs is unwise and runs counter to the assurances offered during the referendum about guaranteeing an inclusive UK. And I have limited sympathy for Labour, which is paying the price for adopting the language of nationalism in the 1980s then claiming that the Tories had no mandate to govern in Scotland. They now find themselves being devoured by the nationalist tiger.” Forsyth’s remarks add resonance because he is an ardent Thatcherite and unionist who played a leading role in fighting Labour’s plans for a Scottish parliament in the 1997 election campaign.
Thank you Michael Forsyth! This is pretty much exactly what I thought the morning after the Scottish referendum – that Cameron was playing a partisan game that was certain to inflame Scottish nationalism with an English betrayal only hours after the vote, and damaging the Union he claimed to champion in the interests of a short-term electoral gain. The only question I’ve never quite been able to settle in my head is whether when he made his little play to English nationalism he was stupid enough not to see what this would do in Scotland, arrogant enough to assume that it didn’t matter now the referendum was done, or insincere enough in his professed concern for the Union (which is part of his party’s name) that he didn’t actually care as long as it boosted his chances of re-election this time round. So, David Cameron, fool or knave? It’s a hard choice (though there is an obvious answer).
Cameron blundered hugely: having actually signed a vow promising Scotland substantially extended devolution, the very day after the result, he turned around and retrospectively slapped conditions on it. Forsyth’s point is — Cameron took a giant public dump on a signed pledge just days old. A huge kick in the teeth to the “no”voters in Scotland. Not wise.
The British Nationalists of the Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem parties are determined to continue with their unparalleled economic incompetence holding the union together regardless of the adverse impact of their policies, promoting austerity, inequality and privatisation.
Nicola Sturgeon said that it would be up to the people of Scotland, at some future date to decide if there would be another independence referendum. But even provided with an explicit statement of intent Unionist politicians continue with their ridiculous claims that those that Scots choose to send to Westminster to represent them are akin to fifth columnists infiltrating parliament. This is offensive, beyond understanding and will bring forward the date when the Scottish parliament will be petitioning for another referendum.
Scots are only a part of the Union just as long as they do not have the temerity to attempt to participate in its governance.
The Conservative position on Nicola Sturgeon is starting to sound a bit like: Tory HQ: She’s a witch! Burn her! Electorate: Did you dress her up like this? Tory HQ: No, no, no! Yes, yes. A bit. But she’s got a wart.
Independence is not all about the SNP. The Scottish Greens also support independence and they now have more members than the Scottish branch of the Labour party.And there are one or two smaller parties that are also pro-independence.
The Tories burned their legitimacy in Scotland, promising devolution that they had no intention of delivering then, when their votes in Scotland plummeted, they indulged in petty acts of revenge, using Scotland as testing site for their most bloody minded policies. ……Tories making dishonest promises to Scotland and then indulging in petty acts of spite…sounds familiar.
It is ironic that during the 2014 referendum the “yes” side was persistently accused by better together and other Yes supporting entities of paranoia and seeing conspiracy’s everywhere against them. In some cases, their fears were entirely justified, in others the right wing press, covering the outcome of the referendum in the months before Xmas 2014 confirmed their fears. So it is amusing in 2017 to witness the Unionists seeing secret plots, pacts and alliances everywhere…..”The SNP have been negotiating secret deals with Labour” say the Tories,……”No, the SNP are actually in unholy alliance with the Tories” say Labour……….”Actually it’s both of them !!” claim the Lib-Dem’s…….Any wonder that people in Scotland see and hear this and then decide to support the SNP
Cameron has started “Operation Totally Terrified”, demonising Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Entire pages of daily newspapers are devoted to the “evolution” of Nicola, complete with “comments” such as “jimmy crankie” “mary doll” to the “vile” “nasty” and wishing she has an accident or car crash. Over the top.
The one thing that’s increasingly obvious is that the only way the UK can survive is as some form of federal system….But nevertheless the article nails the fact that Cameron is playing a dangerous and stupid game. His idiocy on the steps of Downing street the morning after the referendum showed how the Tories planned to put partisan considerations before the national interest and bridge building, but the rhetoric used in the last few days has reached a new low even for the Tories.The SNP have every right to send elected MPs to Westminster and to vote how they see fit…them’s the rules. However I don’t believe Cameron actually give two hoots about the Union based on his deliberate machinations and incendiary comments (or if he does he’s even more of an idiot than I thought) … But I’ll bet he does care about keeping the neo-liberal gravy train rolling for a few more years and is evidently prepared to risk breaking up the Union to achieve this…Can anyone remind me what you call someone who deliberately betrays their nation for ideological and personal gain?
Which highlights the point I have been consistently making for well over 4 years, that David Cameron is dangerously impulsive, and has appallingly poor judgement. He really is a dangerous politician who just makes it up as he goes along, simply to look good, and then just flippantly ditches his previous position, when it no longer suits his temporary purpose.
Not only is David Cameron the cause of Scottish resentment, highlighted by his stupid boastful claim that the Queen purred down the the phone, after he grabbed the referendum with a mixture of blackmail, dire threats and deceit, but he swings in opposite directions on almost everything. So he claims to be a “compassionate, moderate Conservative, whilst simultaneously boasting about going further than Thatcher. He claimed to be green, and claimed to want the “greenest ever government” from the “bottom of his heart”, and then was reported to be going around saying, “let’s get rid of the green crap”. His hugging a hoodie posturing saw him claiming that young people shouldn’t be demonized, before his lock’em up hysteria after the looting, and stopping housing benefit for the young.
How can you trust a politician who is so flippantly contradictory about so much. David Cameron in his impulsive attempt to keep Scotland in the UK, has so upset and angered the Scottish people, that he’s given the SNP a landslide. David Cameron is the SNP’s best recruiting agent.
David Cameron is a reckless and dangerous politician who has done massive damage to the social fabric of this country, with his reckless and flippant make it up as he goes along with it policy. The only thing you can be certain of with Cameron, is that what he’s saying now, is going to be entirely different than what he will be saying next year, or the year after that. If David Cameron didn’t have such massive support from the media, or rather their Tory leaning proprietors and executives, he would be electoral toast.
Scotland voted against Labour because they felt that Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem Parties had done next to bugger all for Scotland. When they voted Tory they got shafted when industry got shut down down and when they voted Labour they got punished yet again when the Labour government failed to produce policies replacing the disaster left by the last lot. Instead they got empty promises, zero-hours contracts and ATOS. Nothing got any better. Rather than vent against the Scottish electorate, it would be far better if the parties actually listened and tried to deliver something that the Scottish voters want – rather than offer them the same old same old.
Cameron stands accused of having “shattered” the pro-UK alliance in Scotland and stirring up English nationalism after the Scottish independence referendum last year. It was obvious what he was trying to achieve: a “Permanent Tory Supremacy” in England. None of the arguments against that premise are convincing, and Cameron is just the type of big-headed slime-ball who would prance around wearing a crown, while the rest of the nation disintegrates around him. He couldn’t give an airborne copulation about the United Kingdom – it’s all about him.