Katie Perrior, former director of communication at No 10 Downing Street, has been very critical of Theresa May’s communication skills in a talk at City University on 2 February 2018.
Addressing the postgraduate class of political reporting on the topic of ‘spin doctoring’, Katie Perrior talked about the difficulties of the Prime Minister to open up to journalists’ questions.
“When I was prepping her for an interview, she would ask me ‘Why are people interested in these things?’” Ms Perrior said. “She never really understood the fact that people want to know that she cares about the same things as they care.”
Ms Perrior joined Theresa May’s staff for the leadership campaign in June 2016 after the Brexit referendum.
When I was prepping her for an interview, she would ask me ‘Why are people interested in these things?’
Immediately after starting at No 10, Ms Perrior was told that her team would not be using social media channels for communication purposes. An avid Twitter user for political means, she was instructed to put everything through traditional press releases and then on Twitter.
“I continuously said that it was madness,” she said. “It doesn’t take a genius to see that I had the title of director of communication on my business card, but I didn’t have the control to be able to act accordingly.”
In the past months Ms Perrior has talked extensively of her difficult relationship with Theresa May’s former aides and chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, defining them bullies and terrible leaders, prone to childish behaviour.
When the snap general election was called in August 2017, Ms Perrior resigned her position, after only 10 months in office.
“It was a great point for me to leave because I had a horrid time when I was there. I thought it was the perfect moment to go and also they [Timothy and Hill] decided they did not want me running her election campaign.”
Ms Perrior expected the election to be won by Theresa May, who was 26 points ahead in the polls at the beginning of the campaign. She blames the presidential style of the campaign for Theresa May’s loss of confidence and poor results in the election.
Ms Perrior does not hold a grudge against PM Theresa May, though. “She doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. She just wants to serve.”
During the lecture at City University, Ms Perrior also talked about the successful mayoral campaign she managed for Boris Johnson in 2008 and her time spent in the communication team of senior Conservative William Hague in the early 2000s.
She expressed her long-life passion for political communication and her admiration for the American way of managing campaigns.
“Politics really grabs you. On my bucket list there’s going to a Democratic or a Republican convention and absorb it all up.”
She doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. She just wants to serve