Tories Who Tweet (Anonymously): We Find Out What Motivates Them And If They've Ever Been Found Out...
Westminster’s anonymous twitters bring a mixture of gossip, intrigue, humour and scandal to the online world. But what makes an anonymous twitterer? And have any of them been close to being found out? The Huffington Post UK meets four people whose opinions are strictly nothing to do with their employers.
UPDATE: On 20th August 2011 A blogger who was apparently friends with the person tweeting as Lord_Credo alleged in this blogpost that Lord_Credo had been lying to a large number of people about his background. A few hours later, the Lord_Credo Twitter account was deleted. Clearly everything that follows here from our original piece should be viewed in that context.
He described himself as a ‘Government Comms Guy’ and ‘A Conservative’ but that was about all most knew about @Lord_Credo. Recently he left his job in Whitehall, but remains just as plugged-in to what’s going on there. What’s on Credo’s mind?
You were involved in government at a high level until fairly recently. Did you worry that someone would blow your cover as being Credo or was it a badly-kept secret?
It wasn't an ongoing worry, no. A number of people did go on fishing expeditions, but carefully managed someone can remain anonymous indefinitely. Anonymity was a must when I first started the account, but it's become less and less important of late, so I'm not terribly concerned about it any more. Besides, most of my friends are hacks. I guess you could say I'm anonymous in the same way that - say - @fleetstreetfox is.
When you were working in Whitehall, people used to watch your Twitter account because you'd drop hints that something was about to happen - like the resignation of Andy Coulson for example. Presumably you didn't have Tweetdeck running on your government PC....
No, I didn't. I had a 3G netbook that I ran in my office for TweetDeck. There's a wonderful episode of Yes, Minister where the Foreign Secretary asks Jim Hacker to call him if there are any developments because Hacker had a TV and the Foreign Secretary didn't. Having Twitter running on my desk was a bit like having that television. I'd often get news before "official channels" did.
Twitter was an invaluable resource for gauging public opinion, the general mood of the electorate, and informal polling. Some in Downing Street may be tech-shy, but that's pretty foolish in the 21st century, particularly when you're trying to bring a human "everyman" face to government.
There's a general sense around Westminster that for all his faults and liabilities, people in Number 10 liked working with Andy Coulson and they've been a bit lost without him. Do you agree?
What I would say is that Andy was a good foil for Steve Hilton.
Looking at the Cabinet 14 months into the government, which ministers have surprised you by either over-performing or under-performing? And might people be surprised at how some Lib Dem and Tory ministers are working together in government?
That's a difficult question to answer. There are cases where cabinet ministers have had the support of the PM withdrawn when a government policy becomes wildly unpopular. That said, I would have expected old hands like IDS to have been a fairly high profile appointment. But, the DWP has been relatively quiet in the press, which - given the goals of the Big Society - is a bit disappointing.
As for the second part of your question, I guess it would depend on what you mean by "working together", and to what end. Generally though, there is a spirit of cooperation in the Cabinet that shouldn't be all that surprising in a coalition.
Can you describe what it's like to look at the government from the outside, as you are now, and compare that to when you were inside the bubble? Are the media doing a good job of reflecting what's going on behind the scenes?
It's certainly quieter. Some people describe it as being a football star stuck on the sidelines because of an injury. For me, it's more like moving house. Different location, but I still sleep with the same people.
I think the media are doing their job as best they can with the limited amount of information they can use about what happens behind the scenes. Though that can also lead to conspiracy theories. It's one reason government needs to be more transparent. Unfortunately, this government isn't really living up to the promise of transparency.