Friday Drop: Bad week for William Hague

Possibly the worst week for Yorkshire's finest since 'that' baseball cap moment in the 90s.

Hague: Taxed
Hague: Taxed

Yes, William Hague is back in the wars, though it's been a while for the former Tory leader, so famously flattened by the Blair juggernaut. He has steadily re-built some credibility in the interim.

But ten years ago he might have done something a bit silly. He nominated the then plain old Michael Ashcroft, successful security magnate, for a peerage. One little problem - he forgot to ask Ashcroft a minor point about his tax status, but as the eager donor was one of the few people to pump used bank notes into the Tory slot machine in the 90s, that would have just got in the way, right?

Being based for the large part of his year in Belize, Ashcroft is what is known as a ‘non-dom'. No tax here, little tax abroad, Sunday Times Rich List amounts of wedge in the bank. Sounds great, only now, with the Tory lead being nibbled away and Cameron unable to halt the slide, the news that Hague only knew very recently of Ashcroft's status has finally dribbled out on Radio 4's The World Tonight and is damaging. Like a sixpence in a Christmas pudding, the juicy admission that Ashcroft had negotiated special terms around his peerage was buried in a master class of obfuscation. It gives the impression that Hague had been played a fool. If the cap fits.

Lessons

Tackle bad news head on rather than wait for it to dribble out

Credibility can take a long time to establish but only a short time to damage

 

Good Week for singer Cerys Matthews

What's an ‘oasis in a sea of mainstream pap and double glazing?' BBC Radio 6 Music, of course. That's the view of just one of thousands of fans lamenting the station's imminent demise on Twitter and Facebook. Designed to plug the gap between Classic Gold and Desmond Carrington on Radio2, 6 Music has attracted a knowledgeable listener through its knack of breaking new British music, chivvied along by musical heavyweights like Phill Jupitus and George Lamb. Swingeing BBC cuts, announced this week, mean it will close in 2012. Cue outrage from the music cognoscenti. David Bowie, Lauren Laverne, Lily Allen (front page comment in the Guardian no less) and Richard Bacon all went postal at the news.

Every campaign needs a heroine and Cerys Matthews could be music's Joanna Lumley, with her impassioned defence of 6Music's values to anyone that will listen. The sight of a BBC controller defending a BBC decision in the face of dissent from one of its employees warmed the cockles on Breakfast. Who needs exit interviews when Matthews had this?

Matthews drew praise from fans on her website by keeping her argument simple and effective - that 6 Music fills the gap that commercial radio can't. Auntie's decision to cull a station with 700,000 listeners has seen 88,000 of them join a Save 6 Music Facebook group and 25,000 more sign an online petition, but the online bandwagon may have to stop rolling as the dye appears to be cast. One former presenter chipped in with;  ‘If there is a budgetary deficit to make up, then wake up and give Clarkson a pay cut.'

Lessons

Used effectively, social media can harness popular support and influence public opinion

Celebrity combined with genuine passion can be a compelling combination

 

 

 

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