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Private advice to Peggy Mitchell – the leaked note in full

Posted on 7 March 2009 | 8:03am

I knew politics was
sometimes dirty, but I cannot believe what has happened. Some dastardly sort
has leaked to The Sun a private note I wrote to Peggy Mitchell as she continues her campaign for election to Walford Borough Council. An edited version appears on Page
8 of the paper today

There has to be within any campaign the space for very
private advice from strategist to candidate and I suspect Janine is involved in
this leak. However, I am not prepared to stand by and see this spun against us,
so I am here publishing the whole letter. I hope other campaigners, like those
involved for Labour, find some useful ideas in there.

Dear Peggy,

I’ve had a fair few highlights and lowlights in my political career, and
another highlight came earlier this week, when I was drawn into your latest
plotline on EastEnders.

As you know, my name was taken in vain by nasty scheming Janine who was trying
to insinuate her way into your campaign for the council. ‘It’s not just about
politics,’ she said. ‘You need someone with the necessary spin. I mean where
would Tony Blair have been without Alastair Campbell?’

Peggy, first let me assure you I did not take any offence at your reply to the
suggestion you needed someone like me – ‘not in a million years’, I believe you
said. You had to say that because your instincts rightly told you she was up to
no good. So well done.

But Peggy, take it from me – and deep down I know you know this – you need a
bit of basic help if you’re going to win. You’re a great landlady. But running
a campaign for office is not the same as running a pub. So please take on board
what I’m saying.

Also, understand the risks I am taking here. As a member of the Labour Party, I
am probably in breach of party rules in advising an independent, but I think
you’re worth it, so I am giving you, free of charge and for the benefit of
Walford and the wider world, the ten rules YOU need for a successful campaign.

Rule 1. OST. The key to any campaign. It means Objective. Strategy. Tactics.
Know your Objective. Of course it is to win, but be clear what you want to do
when you have won, because that will shape your message for the campaign.
Strategy is the hardest bit. Really work it out. Make sure you can both explain
it in a sentence but also if need be make an hour long speech on it. Tactics –
don’t even think of tactics until O and S are clear.

Rule 2. Get a good campaign HQ. The Queen Vic is perfect. Sorted. Use it to
generate debate and build support, and turn supporters into activists. Let the
regulars see the campaign unfold and make them feel part of it. The best team
leaders are the best team players. The pub is also good for informal focus
groups.

Rule 3. You need a slogan. Short and snappy is best. ‘Peggy Mitchell for PM. PM
for Peggy Mitchell” has a ring to it but Gordon might get cross. You could try
another play on words with something like ‘Peggy, your public servant’ which
reminds people of

your service in the pub. I like something simple like ‘Peggy
– here 4U’ (works well on badges and stickers, conveys your giving nature. )

Rule 4. You need a core cause. I know you first got motivated to stand because of the plans for a massage parlour near the pub. Great. Keep the
petition going. But broaden out from that to all the issues that affect quality
of life – lack of respect, graffiti, petty crime, litter, dogdirt (get out
there with your pooper-scooper and a Walford Gazette reporter, and make sure
they put the story online as well as print).

Rule 5. A Peggy Pledge Card. The Peggy ‘here4U’ pledge card should become the
core of your printed materials. The five Peggy pledges:

– Stop the sex shop.

– Turn young thugs into litter wardens.

– Fines for dog fouling.

–  Zero tolerance on graffiti.

–  Cheap beer at the Vic.

Rule 6. Lead your own fundraising. You need money for good quality materials
and you need a buzz. What about a pub quiz, a raffle, a sponsored litter drive?
(Ties your activity to your core community message).

Rule 7. Involve the family. Family values is a big part of your message, but I
notice there is already a bit of resentment building at the time you’re
devoting to the campaign. You need to bind them in, make them feel it’s their
campaign too. Otherwise (read my diaries, Peggy!!) prepare yourself for a lot
of domestic grief.

Rule 8. Stay calm in a crisis. Things won’t always go to plan. Keep your head.

Rule 9. If you see a door, knock on it. There is no substitute for face to face
campaigning, especially when the face is as well known as yours. (Wear sensible
shoes if you want your feet to survive)

Rule 10. Listen to your spin doctor. Probably best we keep my role secret as
the media tend to go a bit neuralgic about process, and we need to keep all the
focus on you and the issues, but I will put up the occasionalblog or vlog to you on
my website and we can keep in touch through that.

A final thought for you. Back in 1997 there were two important elections. One
saw Tony Blair become Prime Minister with a huge landslide to Labour, leading
to real change for Britain. The other saw Ian Beale lose to a bloody Liberal
Democrat. What was the difference between those two campaigns? Correct. Beale didn’t hire me. Blair did. So listen to what I’m saying, Peggy. And good luck.

Alastair Campbell

PS. Tell Barbara Windsor to stick with Labour in real
life and thank her for all her support. Keep logging on to my website, Peggy. I’m here 4U.

New Peggy, new Walford. She’s here 4U.

  • Alan Hawker

    You forgot campaign song, less “Things can only get better” and more “Fings ain’t wot they used to be” for Peggy, I think. 🙂

  • Mennard

    Funny , you could be the next Richard Madeley. Ignore my comments about serious people , Morcambe and Wise and Comic Relief …you can do it !

  • Gabrielle L-P

    Brilliant… as always…Eclipsing the Sun,you are a Star & Mirror my thoughts.The People are with you!Happy you are Expressing your outrage using New Media not the “oh so last century way of using snail-Mail to the Editor”. This is a universal problem with PR advise and should be reported; it is News of The World and the voter in the street should be brought into the public arena!

  • Marcus Dillistone

    Peggy an Independent? Thank goodness, I had her down as BNP sympathiser:

    “Get out of my pub…, square…, country!”

  • Marcus Dillistone

    Sorry Alastair, There was a mix up at the printers regarding Peggy’s ‘pledge cards’ which are now reading:

    – Turn young thugs into the sex shop.

    – Fines for fouling the Vic.

    – No dog graffiti.

    – Stop the litter wardens

    – Zero tolerance on cheap beer

    To save waste, and thus the planet, can you think of anyone who might use these ?

    Marcus.

  • AC

    Peggy says she is touched by the support and suggestions. she agrees she should have a campaign song, Alan, so suggestions welcome. I should warn people we may be wasting our time though … apparently they film weeks in advance … what if the election has already happened? Rule 11 – – never give up.

  • Barbara Cannon

    Enjoyed this very much. Such good campaign advice should be made widely available to all (Labour) candidates. I shall be using your advice in Cumbria. Long lonve the spin doctor!!

  • zain kassam

    Very funny and actually useful.

  • Alina Palimaru

    Entertaining indeed, but equally insightful!

    What was last night’s speech about? And if you have notes, they’re eagerly awaited.
    Thanks!
    Alina

  • Phil McNally

    I did read this in The Sun today, and found it highly amusing. “New Peggy, new Walford” in particular. I also thought The Sun actually behaved surprisingly well over the whole Mandy-custard thing as well. I didn’t expect them to condemn the attack, so was surprised when they actually supported Mandy over his attacker. Although the attacker’s “Miltant” left-wing credentials may have had something to do with it. I suppose they couldn’t bring themselves to support a dangerous leftie.