PLMR’s Founder and CEO, Kevin Craig, Shares his Thoughts Following his Appearance on GB News with Stephen Dixon and Anne Diamond

Kevin Craig

Founder and CEO

Growing up on Lambeth’s Springfield Estate in London in the 1980’s I used to watch on our black and white television Anne Diamond hosting TV AM’s Good Morning Britain, the hugely popular breakfast TV show in an era (yes it was really like this) when you had a choice of only four terrestrial TV channels, and nothing existed online.  So life felt very full circle this weekend on Saturday morning when I pitched up to GB News HQ alongside the said evergreen Anne Diamond (still a terrifically natural presenter) with her co-host Stephen Dixon (ex-Sky News Anchor) and my fellow reviewer the talented razor-sharp former Daily Star Editor Dawn Neesom.   Anne and Stephen’s weekend breakfast show is deservedly fast growing, in popularity and our exchanges covered many of the most important news stories including the crisis in Ukraine, the cost of living, the energy crisis, the all too seldom discussed Economic Crime Bill, violence against women, and reform of e-scooters, amongst others.

Inevitably, of course, our discussions led to Partygate, the Sue Gray report and the Prime Minister’s battle to survive allegations that his moral and political authority have been destroyed by breaches of Covid-19 regulations inside the heart of Government while millions obeyed the rules to the letter often at immense personal cost.   As we start a new week where it is highly likely that the Sue Gray report will finally be published, it remains intensely difficult to predict whether Boris Johnson will stay in his post until the next General Election.  Not that long ago I thought his time in the job to be over, that his premiership had become a ship holed below the waterline.

Yet now I am not so sure.  I challenge anyone, whatever their hinterland, to yet know where this will all land. There are three schools of thought on this, and these were touched on in our discussions on Saturday.

  1. One is that the Prime Minister will be brought down in the very short term by the Sue Gray report. That unredacted or not, it will either show he lied to Parliament or reveal new Covid-19 related breaches which in turn create an unstoppable clamour for change of PM from a majority of Conservative MPs. This first body of opinion maintains that the game is up for the PM, that he is no longer a vote winner and that in the face of the most credible Labour Leader in a decade, Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson cannot carry on.   This school of thought declares that too many people are angry that while most people followed the Covid-19 restrictions to save lives, those who created the rules, flouted them with impunity and indifference.
  2. The second school of thought is that the Prime Minister will get through this immediate period only to become political “toast” in the local elections taking place across the UK in May 2022.  This school of thought believes that it is only at the moment when the public on a large scale gets the chance to cast votes in response to recent political events, that the political reckoning will be dispatched.   Those of this mindset predict an electoral reckoning of a wider scale matched in depth by the recent seismic Parliamentary By Election result in North Shropshire.   I think it difficult to already categorically state that the local elections will be terminal for the Prime Minister, not least because local elections are notorious for their levels of turnout and because they often are characterised by highly local campaigns, often with candidates at a local level who are successful despite – not because of – national parties and leaders.   In addition, a lot can happen between now and May 5th. Distraction can come into play – see below.
  3. And lastly, there is the PM survival theory. In this scenario, think of the Prime Minister’s time in office again like a ship but this time  one sheltering in a cove from a huge storm. The storm is not over, but there is just the one huge final element of the storm to overcome, the local elections. These, whilst challenging, can and will be navigated by the Prime Minister think those in this camp.  Yes, results in May will be poor but not so poor that they are terminal to his career.  This school of opinion believes that the charisma and mercurial will to survive possessed by Boris Johnson will see him navigate his way through the local elections, using his own, on the record thoughts of how a public can be distracted by politicians.  The reality is that things can change incredibly fast, and that politicians can sometimes distract voters when they (the politicians) are in the political soup. Don’t take my word for it – watch Boris Johnson himself talk about how this can be done right here:

So, there you have it.  All entirely plausible options. None of which are guaranteed.

Ten days ago – as I said – I was convinced – seeing and feeling the outrage of many – that the game was up for the PM – whose demeanour then was that of a man defeated, shoulders sagging, a countenance totally deflated and void of hope.   However.  It’s changed.  Over the past ten days the Prime Minister has been emboldened, shored up by intense support from some of his longest standing political allies, returning to his side, bolstering and amplifying the existing Government Whipping operation.  This renewed injection of political sharpness has led to revitalised confidence, clearly on display both during Prime Minister’s Questions last week and when he was announcing updates on the situation in the Ukraine – an appearance regarded by many on the Conservative benches as his best piece of Foreign Policy work to date, including during his whole tenure as Foreign Secretary.

As you can see from our discussions on the programme and viewer reaction on Saturday, there are wide differences of opinion on whether Boris Johnson should resign (last week’s YouGov poll said 62% of people thought he ought to – many do not. And lest we forget this 80 seat Conservative majority was achieved by a relatively small proportion of eligible voters – 29%).  Equally Keir Starmer – as he Keir himself concedes – still has many to convince (albeit 10% in the latest poll published last night represents new heights for him).  As I said on the show Keir Starmer is rightly and unequivocally a patriot, and is also honest, decent, and thoughtful.  In person I have found him to be hugely charismatic but of course there is room for that to translate even more onto his appearances on broadcast media.

What I think everyone might agree on is that a General Election between Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer would be one hell of a contest.  The coming weeks will see if the Prime Minister gets to stay in post to take part in that eventual contest. It’s going to be fascinating and it remains self-evidently very wise for all organisations in both the public and private sectors to ensure they are ready and prepared as soon as possible to hit the ground running to work with both Conservative and Labour led Governments.

Kevin Craig founded PLMR in 2006 since when it has gone on to become of the UK’s leading integrated communications agencies with 85 members of staff and annual revenues in excess of £8 million

In May 2022 he concludes 17 years of services as a Labour Councillor in local government and is also a significant Donor to the Party and a former Parliamentary Candidate.

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