President Juncker’s Political Guidelines Being Ignored by the Commission

President Juncker’s Political Guidelines are  being ignored before the 29 May cut off for new  legislative proposals.

Core to the President’s Political Guidelines is the idea of ‘political discontinuity’.

As the Commission wrote back in 16 December 2014:

“What is political discontinuity?

The principle of political discontinuity applies at the start of a new political mandate. The incoming authority, in this case the European Commission, reviews the proposals which have been put to the legislators by its predecessor, but not yet adopted. It then decides whether or not to pursue work in these areas. This principle is set out in Article 39 of the Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and European Commission. This Article states that “The Commission shall proceed with a review of all pending proposals at the beginning of the new Commission’s term of office, in order to politically confirm or withdraw them, taking due account of the views expressed by Parliament“. The Commission has reviewed around 450 proposals, and has taken the decision to recommend the withdrawal of a significant number of them.”

Having one Commission force their legislative agenda onto the new was in the eyes of this Commission, at least back in 2014, not right.

So, I was surprised to learn that the politically sensitive overhaul of the Control Regulation is being pushed through by DG MARE at break neck speed.

Whatever the merits of the reform, it is obvious that file will not be complete under this Parliament and Commission. I worked on both the CFP reform and Control Regulation reform. They were long drawn out political battles.

Forcing a new Parliament and Commission to deal with legacy files from pre-decessors is the very thing  this President sought to stamp out at the start of his term.

It will be interesting to see if Cabinets follow or ignore these Guidelines during the current Inter-Service Consultation.

Powerpoint – How to make it work as a lobbyist

I really don’t like PowerPoint.  I find it the least effective way to communicate information to an intended audience. I rank telepathy as more effective.

For some reason, none that I can fathom, a lot of lobbyists like taking 62 page slide decks to meetings with politicians and civil servants. They then plod page by page through the slide deck. They don’t look up through their slides and miss the obvious  indications that the life blood is being sucked out of the meeting.

The use has been blamed for pitiful performance, including not winning wars (see here).


Barbara Minto in her classic “The Minto Pyramid Principle” (3rd edition)  has given me hope that PowerPoint, used well, is a means to enhance communication and not smoother it.


She makes the following recommendations in Chapter 11:.

  1. Text sides contain only the most significant idea, properly grouped and summarised, and stated as briefly as possible
  2. Supported by clear exhibits – charts, tables, diagrams
  3. Reflect well through out storyboard and script
  4. Ideal Mix of  visual and words – 90%-10%.
    90%: Charts, tables diagrams
    10%: Text

5.   Write a script to accompany the text slide. You can bind the text of  the script on facing page. This is outline form and omits transitions.


What to show

  1. Present and support one idea at a time
  2. Use statement not captions
  3. Keep the text brief
  4. Use simple words and numbers
  5. Make the type size readable – 32 font
  6. Design the slides to be interesting to look at

I look forward to seeing a slide deck that meets Minto’s ideal.

21 Great Ways to Lose a Political Campaign

21 Great Ways to Lose a Political Campaign


There has never been a time in political campaigning history when good political campaigners have been in more demand than they are today. And, still only a few of the campaigners produce most of the beneficial results.

Why is this? Top political campaigners know how to get results.  They know how to get the most productivity from the resources they have to hand, persuade people and change laws.

I have spent 30 plus years working on and winning political and lobbying campaigns, having worked for many clients, from some of the largest NGOs to companies, and have read hundreds of books and articles on campaigning and lobbying.

In this blog, I am going to share with you 21 of the best strategies ever discovered to guarantee you lose your campaign.

Your job as a campaigner is to get results, quickly, efficiently and at the lowest cost. Your entire success as a campaigner will be determined in your effectiveness in getting the job done in a timely fashion.

In this blog, you are going to learn the 21 greatest campaign strategies ever discovered on how to flunk a campaign.

Let me tell you where these ideas come from. I have been working on political campaigns since I was 15 for the British Labour Party when we really knew how to lose elections. We took sure things and threw them away.  I drifted into working for politicians and then as political consultant for NGOs and industry.

Then I asked why some campaigns won and so many lost, and indeed most never got off the ground at all.

That’s when I learned the law of cause and effect. This law says there is a cause for every effect, there is a reason for everything that happened.

So, I spoke to the best campaigners around, and asked them what they were doing differently from the others. And, they told me, and I did it, and I won more campaigns.

From that moment on, I read every book, article, watched every DVD, went to every course I could get on how to win campaigns

Campaigning is a profession. It is science and an art.  It is based on technique and methodology.  There are certain things you can do as campaigner that will bring you extraordinary results as a campaigner.

Successful campaigners are (1) result orientated. They are focused on getting the job done and getting it done well.  (2)  They are solution focused. And, they are (3) action orientated.



21 ways to fluff your political campaign


Key Idea 1: Framing  the debate is  for others.
Don’t frame the debate. You wait for the other side to frame the debate. And, when they have done so, you will engage privately and publically in the debate on their terms.

Key Idea 2: Clarity is repugnant.
You will make sure that the only people who can understand your case have done a post-doc at Caltech.  Yours is a world where the only people who understand your position paper have never stepped inside the world of government or politics.


Key Idea 3: Faith not evidence.
The people you are trying to persuade don’t need evidence, and will trust you on a blind faith.  The other side will present state of the art science, clearly presented, outlined by an expert whose been coached to speak to the media, politicians and the civil servants.  This is not for you. You’ll rely on a “for hire” expert, whose long ago been discredited for their latest research that proves “gravity does not exist”.


Key idea 4: Plain English is a fad
You won’t join the latest fashion of plain-English. Instead, you’ll present 9-page position papers in font 10.  And, banish anyone who slips in a chart to summarise the case.


Key idea 5: Words, not visuals
Visuals are not for you. Infographics are for others. Videos are for entertainment. Written text, preferably lots of it, with Latin, will serve us well.


Key idea 6: Engage only with your own allies
Engage only with those who support you. Ignore those who are not true believers. Ignore those who are not your natural allies. Heroic defeats are more important than winning the vote.


Key idea 7: Civility is old fashioned
You will throw everything into win, whatever the cost. It does not matter how many bridges you burn. You won’t need to deal with the same officials and politicians again.


Key Idea 8. Journalists !
Yours is a world where no comment is the only statement you’ll ever say to the 4th Estate.


Key idea 9.  Speak to the press as a last resort
Don’t return journalists calls for comments, let alone provide a background briefing. If forced to issue a press release, make sure it is 5 pages long and 5 days late. Don’t be the point of contact for insight and comment for a busy journalist.


Key 10. Display your wealth
You will attend meetings with a politicians and regulators with a watch last seen on the wrist of an oligarch. Your tales of economic hardship if a decision goes one way will not be diminished your ostentatious displays  of the fees your making from this.


Key Idea 11 Shoot from the hip
You are right and they are wrong. There is no middle way. You need to tell them. It worked for President Carter’s Hamilton Jordon.


Key idea 12:  Media training
You are one in a million and a natural before the screen. You have the wit and wisdom of Jordon B. Peterson. You don’t need preparation. Tony Haywood is your muse.


Key Idea 13. Speed talking
Speak really quickly with people, ideally in a language they don’t understand, or is there 3rd language. If you slow down, use lots of jargon from the start.


Key Idea 14.  Be in an internal meeting
The vote will wait for you to have an internal meeting. Don’t worry.

This is where the key decisions to win are made, not out there in face to face meetings with decision makers. Be unavailable for meetings because the weekly  staff meetings is at the same time.


Key Idea 15. PowerPoint works.
PowerPoints are always right. Whatever you do, always come with a very lengthy Powerpoint. It doesn’t matter that this is your only opportunity to be face-to-face and actually converse with the person that will ultimately make the decision on your case. What matters is that you go through your 57 slides.


Key Idea 16:  Don’t follow their guidelines
Law and policy makers often follow well established principles and guidelines when they are preparing decisions. If you speak to them about breaches of their rules they are likely to listen. You’ll appeal to them on different grounds.


Key idea 17.  Ignore their rules
Laws and policies are follow well laid out procedures. It is the one thing law making has in common. There are points in the process that are there for you to engage in and influence. You’ll step in when it suits you and not before.


Key Idea 18: 2 minutes after midnight.
Don’t step in early whilst proposals are being discussed and drafted. You’ll step in long after the ink has dried. Now is the time to raise hell on earth and demand changes.


Key Idea 19: Talk about what interests you and not the decision makers.
Don’t speak to decision makers about the things that interest them and focus obsessively on what interests you. It does not matter that they may have backed you because your case raised issues that interest them. Go in and tell them how it is and nothing else.  Make sure what you give to them can only be understood by a few people and certainly not by the people making the decision.


Key Idea 20: Don’t budget.
The money tree exists for many governments and so it does for you. You will start you campaign with no a care in the world for how much it is going to cost, let alone having the money on call.


Key Idea 21:  You don’t need guidance.
If it looks like you are going to lose, keep digging. And, do not employ guidance from a professional hand, because after all how hard can it be.


The Number 1 Rule of Lobbying … in Four Words

Get to the point.

The best lobbyists get to the point immediately. They don’t waste other people’s times. They ask what they need to know, get the answers,  and thank the person they are meeting and leave.

A former boss in DG Environment taught this No.1 Rule to me many years ago. He always accepted a request for a meeting from one lobbyist.  One day he explained to me  why he did.

He explained  “X, he just comes in, says who his client is, mentions the issue, and asks what the client needs to know. He is always polite and straight to the point. As soon as he has his answer, he thanks me for the time and leaves. He is always polite. I usually find myself having rare spare time in my agenda”.

Powerpoint – Modern Day Corporate Board Waterboarding

Most of the time people try an alternative approach. They bring out the 62 page powerpoint, and start a slow and painful process that is akin to corporate water-boarding.  Around page 57 they will get to the point and ask the question.

The politician or senior official will wonder why they ever accepted the meeting and will be begging for the meeting to end. Fortunately, as the 62 page powerpoint was not rehearsed, the clock has timed out before the key point and questions and have been reached.

An hour of peoples’ lives has gone up in smoke. No answers will be have been secured. The official or politician is perplexed what the meeting was all about.


Get to the point before hand

I find the following extra  two steps helpful.

Send a briefing before hand.

I  send a 1 page briefing a few days ahead of the meeting. It lays out the issue, from the client’s perspective, and the questions to be raised.  It helps avoid any doubt about what the meeting is for. I find it ensures the answers to the questions are secured. I find that my briefings are similar in style, tone and content to any standard civil servant briefing, so not more than 1 page.

Don’t send it on the morning of the meeting.  Send it a few days ahead to give them time to read it.

Speak to their advisor

A call a week in advance to one of the officials at the meeting helps. Letting them know what questions will come up from the client’s side allows them time to find the answer. The whole point of a meeting is just to get the answers you need and nothing more. So, it makes sense to prepare the ground to get the answers.