Browse Category: Personal Branding


Boris backs Vote Leave

Boris says OUT

London Mayor Boris Johnson joined Vote Leave and the OUT campaign today. Often foolishly written off as a blond airhead, this statement has depth and thought. I am not in a position to call anything or anybody intellectual – but this piece contains more intellect in the first paragraph than the all the US Republican Presidential candidate debates so far!

Boris is probably the best known living political brand in the UK. The Vote Leave campaign were quick to use his well known mop and incorporate it into their social media – most politicians would kill to have his first name recognition at local level – let alone nationally! When your hair and head profile is recognised across the country – that is in a different league!! No individual politician will sway a national referendum – but Boris will put a lot of petrol in the Vote Leave campaign and momentum is the magic word in political campaigns!


There are some great supporting graphs and stats here in this article in The Telegraph.

Here is the full statement from Boris.


I am a European. I lived many years in Brussels. I rather love the old place. And so I resent the way we continually confuse Europe – the home of the greatest and richest culture in the world, to which Britain is and will be an eternal contributor – with the political project of the European Union. It is, therefore, vital to stress that there is nothing necessarily anti-European or xenophobic in wanting to vote Leave on June 23.

And it is important to remember: it isn’t we in this country who have changed. It is the European Union. In the 28 years since I first started writing for this paper about the Common Market – as it was then still known – the project has morphed and grown in such a way as to be unrecognisable, rather as the vast new Euro palaces of glass and steel now lour over the little cobbled streets in the heart of the Belgian capital.
When I went to Brussels in 1989, I found well-meaning officials (many of them British) trying to break down barriers to trade with a new procedure – agreed by Margaret Thatcher – called Qualified Majority Voting. The efforts at harmonisation were occasionally comical, and I informed readers about euro-condoms and the great war against the British prawn cocktail flavour crisp. And then came German reunification, and the panicked efforts of Delors, Kohl and Mitterrand to “lock” Germany into Europe with the euro; and since then the pace of integration has never really slackened.

As new countries have joined, we have seen a hurried expansion in the areas for Qualified Majority Voting, so that Britain can be overruled more and more often (as has happened in the past five years). We have had not just the Maastricht Treaty, but Amsterdam, Nice, Lisbon, every one of them representing an extension of EU authority and a centralisation in Brussels. According to the House of Commons library, anything between 15 and 50 per cent of UK legislation now comes from the EU; and remember that this type of legislation is very special.
It is unstoppable, and it is irreversible – since it can only be repealed by the EU itself. Ask how much EU legislation the Commission has actually taken back under its various programmes for streamlining bureaucracy. The answer is none. That is why EU law is likened to a ratchet, clicking only forwards. We are seeing a slow and invisible process of legal colonisation, as the EU infiltrates just about every area of public policy. Then – and this is the key point – the EU acquires supremacy in any field that it touches; because it is one of the planks of Britain’s membership, agreed in 1972, that any question involving the EU must go to Luxembourg, to be adjudicated by the European Court of Justice.

It was one thing when that court contented itself with the single market, and ensuring that there was free and fair trade across the EU. We are now way beyond that stage. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the court has taken on the ability to vindicate people’s rights under the 55-clause “Charter of Fundamental Human Rights”, including such peculiar entitlements as the right to found a school, or the right to “pursue a freely chosen occupation” anywhere in the EU, or the right to start a business.

These are not fundamental rights as we normally understand them, and the mind boggles as to how they will be enforced. Tony Blair told us he had an opt-out from this charter. Alas, that opt-out has not proved legally durable, and there are real fears among British jurists about the activism of the court. The more the EU does, the less room there is for national decision-making. Sometimes these EU rules sound simply ludicrous, like the rule that you can’t recycle a teabag, or that children under eight cannot blow up balloons, or the limits on the power of vacuum cleaners. Sometimes they can be truly infuriating – like the time I discovered, in 2013, that there was nothing we could do to bring in better-designed cab windows for trucks, to stop cyclists being crushed. It had to be done at a European level, and the French were opposed.

Sometimes the public can see all too plainly the impotence of their own elected politicians – as with immigration. That enrages them; not so much the numbers as the lack of control. That is what we mean by loss of sovereignty – the inability of people to kick out, at elections, the men and women who control their lives. We are seeing an alienation of the people from the power they should hold, and I am sure this is contributing to the sense of disengagement, the apathy, the view that politicians are “all the same” and can change nothing, and to the rise of extremist parties.

Democracy matters; and I find it deeply worrying that the Greeks are effectively being told what to do with their budgets and public spending, in spite of huge suffering among the population. And now the EU wants to go further. There is a document floating around Brussels called “The Five Presidents Report”, in which the leaders of the various EU institutions map out ways to save the euro. It all involves more integration: a social union, a political union, a budgetary union. At a time when Brussels should be devolving power, it is hauling more and more towards the centre, and there is no way that Britain can be unaffected.

David Cameron has done his very best, and he has achieved more than many expected. There is some useful language about stopping “ever-closer union” from applying to the UK, about protecting the euro outs from the euro ins, and about competition and deregulation.
There is an excellent forthcoming Bill that will assert the sovereignty of Parliament, the fruit of heroic intellectual labour by Oliver Letwin, which may well exercise a chilling effect on some of the more federalist flights of fancy of the court and the Commission. It is good, and right, but it cannot stop the machine; at best it can put a temporary and occasional spoke in the ratchet.
There is only one way to get the change we need, and that is to vote to go, because all EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says No. The fundamental problem remains: that they have an ideal that we do not share. They want to create a truly federal union, e pluribus unum, when most British people do not.

It is time to seek a new relationship, in which we manage to extricate ourselves from most of the supranational elements. We will hear a lot in the coming weeks about the risks of this option; the risk to the economy, the risk to the City of London, and so on; and though those risks cannot be entirely dismissed, I think they are likely to be exaggerated. We have heard this kind of thing before, about the decision to opt out of the euro, and the very opposite turned out to be the case.

I also accept there is a risk that a vote to Leave the EU, as it currently stands, will cause fresh tensions in the union between England and Scotland. On the other hand, most of the evidence I have seen suggests that the Scots will vote on roughly the same lines as the English.
We will be told that a Brexit would embolden Putin, though it seems to me he is more likely to be emboldened, for instance, by the West’s relative passivity in Syria.

Above all, we will be told that whatever the democratic deficiencies, we would be better off remaining in because of the “influence” we have. This is less and less persuasive to me. Only 4 per cent of people running the Commission are UK nationals, when Britain contains 12 per cent of the EU population. It is not clear why the Commission should be best placed to know the needs of UK business and industry, rather than the myriad officials at UK Trade & Investment or the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

If the “Leave” side wins, it will indeed be necessary to negotiate a large number of trade deals at great speed. But why should that be impossible? We have become so used to Nanny in Brussels that we have become infantilised, incapable of imagining an independent future. We used to run the biggest empire the world has ever seen, and with a much smaller domestic population and a relatively tiny Civil Service. Are we really unable to do trade deals? We will have at least two years in which the existing treaties will be in force.

The real risk is to the general morale of Europe, and to the prestige of the EU project. We should take that seriously.

We should remember that this federalist vision is not an ignoble idea. It was born of the highest motives – to keep the peace in Europe. The people who run the various EU institutions – whom we like to ply with crass abuse – are, in my experience, principled and thoughtful officials. They have done some very good things: I think of the work of Sir Leon Brittan, for instance, as Competition Commissioner, and his fight against state aid.

They just have a different view of the way Europe should be constructed. I would hope they would see a vote to leave as a challenge, not just to strike a new and harmonious relationship with Britain (in which those benefits could be retained) but to recover some of the competitiveness that the continent has lost in the last decades.

Whatever happens, Britain needs to be supportive of its friends and allies – but on the lines originally proposed by Winston Churchill: interested, associated, but not absorbed; with Europe – but not comprised. We have spent 500 years trying to stop continental European powers uniting against us. There is no reason (if everyone is sensible) why that should happen now, and every reason for friendliness.

For many Conservatives, this has already been a pretty agonising business. Many of us are deeply internally divided, and we are divided between us. We know that we do not agree on the substance, but I hope we can all agree to concentrate on the arguments; to play the ball and not the man.

At the end of it all, we want to get a result, and then get on and unite around David Cameron – continuing to deliver better jobs, better housing, better health, education and a better quality of life for our constituents for whom (let’s be frank) the EU is not always the number one issue.
It is entirely thanks to the Prime Minister, his bravery and energy, and the fact that he won a majority Conservative government, that we are having a referendum at all. Never forget that if it were down to Jeremy Corbyn and the so-called People’s Party, the people would be completely frozen out.

This is the right moment to have a referendum, because as Europe changes, Britain is changing too. This is a truly great country that is now going places at extraordinary speed. We are the European, if not the world, leaders in so many sectors of the 21st-century economy; not just financial services, but business services, the media, biosciences, universities, the arts, technology of all kinds (of the 40 EU technology companies worth more than $1 billion, 17 are British); and we still have a dizzyingly fertile manufacturing sector.

Now is the time to spearhead the success of those products and services not just in Europe, but in growth markets beyond. This is a moment to be brave, to reach out – not to hug the skirts of Nurse in Brussels, and refer all decisions to someone else.

We have given so much to the world, in ideas and culture, but the most valuable British export and the one for which we are most famous is the one that is now increasingly in question: parliamentary democracy – the way the people express their power.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to vote for real change in Britain’s relations with Europe. This is the only opportunity we will ever have to show that we care about self-rule. A vote to Remain will be taken in Brussels as a green light for more federalism, and for the erosion of democracy.

In the next few weeks, the views of people like me will matter less and less, because the choice belongs to those who are really sovereign – the people of the UK. And in the matter of their own sovereignty the people, by definition, will get it right.

Debate Prep for the Leaders Debate

Leaders Debate

At last the Great Debate or the Great Bore-a-thon is with us. Guy Bentley has a useful rundown in City AM on the format and the logistics for the night, who stands where, who speaks first etc.

Debate Prep

Debate prep and coaching is standard these days – avoiding the gift of the gaffe is the first priority. But how to win? Or will they all just want to survive?

What will the party leaders be thinking about today while they are being coached and during last minute debate prep?

David Cameron’s debate plan?

Cameron would be happiest saying nothing apart from listing the government’s achievements, talking about his “long term economic plan” and then repeating both in his closing statement. He is helped by the fact that he has the last word and his podium position keeps him away from the schoolyard. He will want to keep above the fray sounding like the only grown up amongst the squabbling kids. Cameron’s biggest risk is sounding patronising and only talking about his Government’s quite remarkable achievements and policies and forgetting that policies are only relevant if they improve the lives of people. He should have a little rule – only use the word policy if you have already said the word people 4 times.

Ed Miliband’s difficult debate

Miliband will want to do several things starting with not being called David and not being asked about David. His is the hardest gig tonight – not least by his central podium position that will make him look like the bullied kid in a schoolyard fight. He will try hard to ignore those around him and look straight and earnestly at the camera. Luckily for him, he is not as weird as his opponents paint him but enough to undermine this success strategy. He will want to ignore his dirty texting and pending fling with the SNP which is supposed to be Jolly Top Secret and definitely not spoken about in front of SNP hating Scottish Labour or the Press and the Conservatives who love the sordid affair.

Ed has other issues though. The SNP, the Greens, Plaid and the Lib Dems all need Labour voters and will all be attacking him for not being left enough, not grown up enough, not having had a real job outside Westminster, taking Scottish voters for granted, screwing up the NHS in Wales and being a remote control Union toy (amongst other things) – while his own team will be dreaming of David.

I agree with Nick – or do I?

Nick Clegg will dream of his first debate outing. Now people know him too well. But. He speaks well and sounds reasonable and can do grown-up. One to watch out for. Again.

The Ones who will hate Ed tonight but who will happily sleep with him after the election

The Greens will be the indignant, ideologically pure and socialist and green hybrid trying to steal votes from the Lib Dems and Labour. They risk being snappy and angry and would do better to sound grown up, reasonable and responsible.

Plaid has a huge chance. They will be desperate to make the most of it. But they risk being tea break time for everyone outside Wales.

The SNP will be focused on winning big in Scotland – post-election niceties will be determined by post-election numbers. Nothing nice about tonight.

Debate Farage

Farage will try to ignore the carefully selected TV audience of 200, reflecting the UK’s ethnic, age, gender and social make-up, and reach out to the pubs around the country without football on the TV. Knackered from being The UKIP Face and stuck in a heavy suit between Nick and Ed, he also has a problem with sweating under the big TV lights and two hours of studio heat may cause him trouble. He desperately needs grumpy Conservative voters so he may be awfully nice to Ed and just rant loudly at Dave. His position means that this will produce lots of shots of him, Ed and Nick looking at Dave – great images that support the Conservative’s accurate point that if you vote for UKIP or the Lib Dems you get Ed as your Prime Minister.

Peter Botting on The Daily Politics

Daily Politics Appearance

Last Friday I was contacted by the Daily Politics team who had read my blog posts on the 5 worst and 5 best US political adverts. They seemed to like what I had written and invited me on to the Daily politics show on Monday to talk about them. Sam and I arrived at the BBC at 11:45 and were ushered into the green room. Sam was given a tour of the Daily Politics set and I sat waiting in the green room. It was exciting to be there. I knew what I wanted to say and to be honest I had an easy gig ahead of me as there were no tough questions coming my way as my 4-5 minutes was more of an amusing filler than main stream news and I didn’t have positions to defend – apart from my views on the videos.

Paul Uppal, Julian Huppert and Lisa Nandy were the guests for they day and Alan Milburn was a guest. Eventually I was called into the studio around 12:50 and say in a corner watching the 4 camera crew and the the rest of crew quietly and calmly do their thing. Then I was miked up and told to follow the chair. Then the videos were played – I was greeted by Jo Coburn who was lovely and then the questions a started. It was a fun discussion and I managed to to get Jo and her 3 guests agreeing with me!

Thanks to the Daily Politics team from Robbie Gibb to Jo and all the others who were so cool and friendly to us!

Have a look and tell me what you think!


Me and my Boss – by Danny Bowman

Job hunting with a mental health issue is not easy. Either you don’t even get an interview or the employer gets cold feet during the interview. Should you even say that you have had mental health issues?

The dreams of anyone suffering from a mental health problem is to start living a fulfilling life. For me I saw a fulfilling life as helping others and working hard even if it’s a internship.

I always has aspirations of working in politics or strategy and that ambition came true thanks to many people but one man especially, that is the guy I call boss now. Peter Botting gave me one of the biggest opportunities if not the greatest I have had. He gave me the chance to intern and work as his PA.

His absolute care and compassion for what I had been through didn’t make him dither on his decision but made him want to give me a opportunity, that many people with his reputation would not have done. One think that struck me about him is the lack of thinking he had to do and his open attitude about talking about such a stigmatised issue.

Last week we both attended Conservative Party conference but for me this year it was different, I was no longer freely drinking every alcoholic beverage I could have. It was to work hard as a test run for Peter, the political strategist that didn’t care about my past – only my future. I wrote about the conference here. 

I ran his diary and he described me as being like a drill sergeant and for the first time ever, he attended 11 out of 13 scheduled events on the first day.

We disagree and talk openly with non-edited language. But that is helpful and healthy. This man gave me an opportunity – he is not just “boss” but a great friend, a compassionate political man, a man of his word. I know he took a risk hiring me. I want to prove him right.


Peter and Danny2.

Me and Peter at work at Conservative Party Conference.

In Front Of The Camera


Monday was unusual. Even by the random standards of my life. It was film day. For me. I was going in front of the camera. Usually I prepare other people to go in front of the camera or on stage. I am the backroom guy – the guy in the green room giving advice, holding your hand, cheering you on. But not Monday. I have been told repeatedly that my website needs a video. Of me. That I am the product, the service, the package. The coach. So prospective clients need to see me and hear me. So today was filming of me.

I am the speaker coach – so this better be good! Scripts were written, rewritten, edited, shared, collaborated on. I think the final doc was called Script Final 9 or Script Final final final 5. Then I set a deadline, a date and we were off to London. I cancelled. Or postponed. That was last week and I was just back from the US, I had loads to do and my head wasn’t there. Plus I hadn’t learned my lines. The film guy understood. He said.

So this Monday dawned. The team of 5 assembled in Canada Water near the Hilton on the Thames walkway. We were south of the river with Canary Wharf as the backdrop. The weather was perfect. The film crew of two were cheery. Sam and Danny work for me and were excited to be out of the office and doing something different.

I still hadn’t learned my lines.

The film guy said he had every confidence in me. I hoped he was better with his camera than he was at deceit.

I was “miked up”, the lighting was checked, the serious professional camera sat on a huge tripod, a light panel explored every wrinkle on my face. I tried to remember my advice to my clients on how to keep calm.  My young team were reassuring even if some of their jokes were off-colour! The film crew reassured with their words but I was sure they were thinking “Another wally who hasn’t learned his lines!”

We were ready. Or at least everyone else was. The “talent” wasn’t. Not a word came to me. Blank. Totally. Nothing. Nada.

Sam read out the script I was supposed to have learnt. That I had spent 3 hours learning over the weekend. The script that I had written and approved. That we had agreed and shared with the film team. I hated it. Too clunky, too braggy, too long. Not. Fluent. At. All.

Eyes furtively rolled. My team smiled encouragingly willing me me to win. I cursed myself.

The film guy’s assistant interrupted. She hadn’t been part of the pre-briefing. She asked me what I did. I told her. She said – “Say that – talk like you have just spoken to me.” Which is the sort of thing I say. But I needed someone else to say it to me.

I pulled myself together. I instructed Sam to make sure that all the key components of the script were covered. He was anointed Chief Prompter for the day. This meant he read out what needed to be covered – I made a mental note of the essential points, shut my eyes like a diva, assembled my thoughts, mentally walked through what I was going to say, then said “Am ready”. And the film crew sprang into action – or at least pushed the button.

Theory. Of course the film crew wasn’t always ready just because I was. Background noise interrupts (i.e. stops) filming and there were planes and boats and cyclists and waves and even helicopters all joining in and laughing at me. So it took a little longer than it should have. Double the time at least. But in the end I was happy with the words and it was nearly a minute shorter. Everyone else was smiling too. We hadn’t moved on from a clip until all 4 of my “audience” were happy.

Midday isn’t great for filming apparently (says the thirsty film guy!) because of the light. So we went for lunch. In a pub – I think the crew deserved and needed that.The film guy seemed much happier after that!

After lunch we went to Westminster, again south of the river, by Lambeth Palace. This was shorter – we didn’t need to film so much and I had learnt my lines by now. And the next day we did some close up work shots on my desk at home. The film will be coming out soon – hopefully this weekend. Danny found some music for it. Graeme, the film guy, has edited out my stumbles and gaffes.

Film is powerful. But it has to be done well. 2 minutes clips are part of the internet culture – but they take ages to make in preparation, production and post-production. The investment is significant – but the end product is well worth having. Or at least I think so. When I publish the video you can decide for yourself.

Lessons and tips about filming promotional video

  1. you must know what you HAVE to say
  2. preparation and preparation time are mega-important – they are part of the investment you make
  3. get a film crew you like and who can work with and who will put up with you
  4. it takes longer than you think on the day
  5. it takes much longer than you think in preparation
  6. post-production is seriously important – be nice to the editor!
  7. working with, listening to and getting feedback from professionals is mandatory
  8. getting feedback from those who know you well, and care about you, is important too  – it keeps you real




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