Most of this post was prepared around a year ago, before the current Toby Helm investigations into the startlingly bad DfE spin and smear Twitter account @toryeducation started. I never finished it because I never felt it was quite there as a post rather than a set of idle notes about something I found mildly amusing, and the Boris connection is fairly small (it’s still interesting, though). It’s likely given subsequent developments that @toryeducation isn’t one person but is under the direction of Dominic Cummings and/or Henry de Zoete, at sufficiently plausible-deniable distance and Ben Mascall’s LinkedIn profile now indicates a move to the DfT since the original post was researched, where he’s a SpAd.
Kelham Salter appears to be at the GLA and running marathons for charity (and good luck to him on that, at least). Two of the donations come from ‘Jim de Zoete’ and ‘Ben Mascall’. Jim de Zoete’s Twitter account links to a video liked by the YouTube user devonport3 as recently as 15/2/2013. He’s almost certainly Henry’s brother, the latter calls him ‘bruv’ on another justgiving page here. Virtually the whole crew play for this London football team called ‘Freelance Euro’, which features yet another spelling of Kelham Salter’s name. He’s not trying to hide his eminently searchable handle from nosy Googlers, is he?
I’ve also revised my opinion on whether Boris and Gove are mates, I’ve formed the distinct impression they’re not on good terms and are obviously rivals to succeed Cameron. Here goes anyway:
For about a year now I’ve been following a Twitter account called @toryeducation, which is a hilariously one eyed transparent spin account purporting to be from the Conservative Party’s education people. That it spends its time exclusively bashing Labour or bigging up Boris’s mate Michael ‘Oiky’ Gove is, of course, a given, but the question of authorship (the author is anonymous) never really bothered me until a tweet crossed my timeline today claiming to have unmasked him back on 8/6/2012:
The name Ben Mascall is sufficiently rare enough to get some solid hits on Google which fit someone matching the image I’d built up – I’d have thought he’d be younger than me (part of the new breed who grew up with spin and entered live politics in 2010), university educated, posh, possibly public school, well connected. Arrogant, ignorant and unpleasant go without saying given the contents of his Twitter feed. Also, we are helpfully pointed to a LinkedIn profile:
- Political Press Adviser, Health and Education at Conservative Party
- Account Director at Bell Pottinger Group
- Account Director at MS&L Worldwide
- Account Manager at MS&L Worldwide
- University of Bristol
This is just too easy now. Bell Pottinger, of course, are a notorious PR firm who have been accused of shilling for such luminaries as President Lukashenko of Belarus, Europe’s last dictator. Naturally they were set up by a Thatcher acolyte, Tim ‘Lord’ Bell, and good connections with the Tories can be assumed. The important thing to emerge from LinkedIn is a background not in running a press office but in the nastier ends of the spin trade, making shit look like gold, but that again was kind of obvious. There’s also a gap of three years from graduation in Philosophy and Politics in 2003 to the first mentioned job with Financial Dynamics in 2006.
Moving on, a search of YouTube finds two videos from 2010 tagged with ‘Ben Mascall’, crucially one of them is tagged with ‘Henry de Zoete’, who is already known as a Gove advisor and possible Mascall’s (former?) flatmate.
- 20/1/2010 – 4 World Cup fans investigate England’s Algerian opposition in a restaurant in Hampstead, before they set off on their dream trip to follow their team at the World Cup in South Africa
- 4/6/2010 – Ben Mascall, intrepid reporter goes in search of answers to help England on their way to World Cup Glory (presumably allowing a positive ID – see picture)
The ’4 World Cup fans’ are helpfully named in the tags:
- World Cup
- Daily Mail
- Henry de Zoete
- Duncan Robertson
- Kelham Slater [sic]
- Ben Mascall
Henry de Zoete and Mascall we know. Kelham Salter (the tag is misspelled) turns out to be the son of Patience Wheatcroft, Tory and head of Boris’s early and unsuccessful attempt to prove that Ken Livingstone was siphoning public money to Cuba or something. Moreover, Livingstone himself made an interesting point in 2008 in accusing Wheatcroft of running a politically-motivated hatchet job:
I note that when you were appointed you did not bother to state that you were a member of the Conservative Party, nor did you state it in subsequent television interviews. Your membership of the Conservative Party was revealed only in your Declaration of Interest to the GLA. It is evident that it if it was intended to have an independent investigation into any matter it should not be headed by a member of a political party. Any person who wished to lead, and wished to be seen to lead, an objective and impartial enquiry would clearly have refused to chair a body with such a composition.
I also note the further irregularities that have occurred during your being chair of this body. First your son Kelham Salter was appointed to a post in the GLA – even though journalists have been informed he is not paid this is not an action of the type that would be expected from the chair of an independent ‘forensic’ body.
How awfully cosy these people are. Salter is still (2012) at the GLA, incidentally, having originally been brought in by Kate Hoey and being mentioned lavishly in Marketing magazine here on the subject of the Olympic legacy:
Salter said that in the UK, “we have the Wimbledon effect, where the tennis courts are full during Wimbledon and then a week after, they are dead. We can’t allow this to happen with our Olympics.”
One way of meeting this challenge, said Salter, would be to make sure every Londoner was involved with the Olympics in some capacity, whether it be regeneration of a particular area, or a local business winning an Olympic contract.
Moreover, it would be a rather generous man who worked six years for the GLA without payment. Does Salter have another paid job (and if so, where) or is he now on the paid staff? Marketing introduces him as a ‘senior policy officer’.
What’s perhaps most intriguing here is why a current press officer/Tory spinner appears tagged in two videos on YouTube also tagged ‘Daily Mail’. What was the Mail’s involvement in this otherwise rather lighthearted exercise, and why did it stop after two outings, months before the World Cup (hypothesis: the 2010 General Election came along and they all become SpAds)?
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