The expected appointment of Allegra Stratton as the face of Downing Street’s new daily televised press briefings has been met with a collective sigh from social media commentators, with Owen Jones describing it as another “revolving door” job.
The former ITV journalist, who is currently an adviser to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will host daily briefings for political journalists. The role will make her a high-profile spokeswoman for Boris Johnson.
It will form a part of a media shake-up masterminded by Johnson’s director of communications, Lee Cain, who is increasingly centralising government communications in Downing Street, and intends to significantly reduce the number of civil servants dealing with the press.
The former Guardian man has been described as Dominic Cummings’ ‘man on earth’ by one former political editor, which makes Stratton’s appointment understandable.
As John Hyde pointed out, she is married to the political editor of the Spectator, who has links to the PM’s svengali.
So the new Downing Street press secretary is Allegra Stratton, who is married to the political editor of the Spectator, who works alongside the commissioning editor who happens to be married to Dominic Cummings, who is the chief adviser to Boris Johnson.— John Hyde (@JohnHyde1982) October 8, 2020
I need a lie down.
Elsewhere the reaction has been less than complementary, with Owen Jones pointing to the “revolving door between senior political broadcasting in this country and the ruling Conservative government”, a point Paul Bernal also picked up on.
The point behind the Allegra Stratton appointment isn’t really anything to do with her personally – or who she’s married to – but that it emphasises yet again that the top tier of political journalists are very chummy with the politicians. That isn’t a good thing.— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) October 8, 2020
Bibi van der Zee noted that the appointment of Stratton means Downing Street is now swimming with people with connections to the mainstream media.
James Forsyth (here writing a column in the times) is married to Boris Johnson’s new spokesperson Allegra Stratton. Meanwhile Michael Gove’s wife columnises in the Mail. And obvs our prime minister is a hack.— Bibi van der Zee (@bibivanderzee) October 9, 2020
I love journalists, of course. But is this really ideal? pic.twitter.com/DQt3WTMYYo
Tim Walker said it is Johnson’s idea of smashing elites and making Britain a meritocracy:
Johnson’s idea of smashing elites and making 🇬🇧 a meritocracy: Allegra Stratton, today named his press secretary, is married to James Forsyth, political editor of the Spectator, which Johnson once edited. Mary Wakefield, its commissioning editor, is married to Dominic Cummings.— Tim Walker (@ThatTimWalker) October 8, 2020