My minute-by-minute (political) day in the life…

It’s been a while since I blogged one of my days (see the ‘It’s a typical day’ blog)…

Yesterday was a tough one, as I was hardcore tired after Tuesday (which is always a long day as I get picked up at 6:40ish in the morning to do GMTV, then focus on the weekly email for the rest of the day. I rarely finish before 10pm).

Normally I get to recover on Wednesday mornings, but yesterday was different:

  • 6.25 am. Alarm.
  • 6.55 am. Taxi motorbike to get to GMTV.
  • 7.15 am. Arrive, go to the green room & meet the producer looking after my slot.
  • 7.35 am. On air to do a four minute slot on redundancy planning, based on new unemployment figures.
  • 7.40 am. Leave studio, have a chat with Wendi Peters in the corridor & lift (ex Coronation street actor, now in new play)
  • 7.45 am. Go to the 2nd floor cafeteria, get my laptop out and start checking through emails. We’ve just gone live with the Lib Dems pledge parliamentary motion on automatic bank charges payout story, so my priority is to see the impact.
  • 8.00 am. The cafeteria opens, and I’m about to get breakfast when the producer comes down. We then run through the email questions sent in so far to try and balance the range of questions.
  • 8.20 am. Walk back up to the studio.
  • 8.35 am. On air again for a five-minute slot on redundancy, this time answering viewers’ questions.
  • 8.45 am. Meet with the planning editor, Owen, about next week’s slots.
  • 9.05 am. Leave GMTV and walk to Trafalgar Square.
  • 9.25 am. Arrive in Trafalgar Square; finally get some breakfast in a place with free wi-fi.
  • 9.30 am. Open up the laptop to go through every link from the weekly email and see how it’s working. Call MSE Dan in the office and we discuss if we need to make any tweaks in the email for the second batch to be sent.
  • 10.00 am. Answer the 50 or so emails I’ve received since I last checked.
  • 10.30 am. Start writing my News of the World column on ‘should I fix’, which needs be in Friday. Normally I start this on a Thursday but this week I’ve also got the monthly Telegraph column to do – on the politicised side of budget airlines – so I need to buy some time.
  • 11.10 am. Leave Trafalgar Square and walk to the Treasury to meet MSE Wendy.
  • 11.30 am. Go into a meeting with Stephen Timms MP, the financial secretary to the Treasury. The meeting was set up after I lobbied Children’s Minister Ed Balls about what I consider to be a black hole between Childcare vouchers and tax credits interaction and the worries over how they work (see my Childcare Agitation blog for a full explanation). The meeting went well, they were receptive to our ideas (soon i’ll write something here or in MSE news on exactly what happened).
  • 12.20 pm. Make a few phone calls – a few newspaper journalists have called regarding stories. Download emails on my phone and deal with what I can, giving a few quotes.
  • 12.30 pm. Realise I’m late for my next meeting and jump into a cab.
  • 12.45 pm. Arrive at a central London restaurant, where I’m meeting the no.2 and no.3 at the News of the World. This is an important meet for me as I have my own weekly page up the front of the paper, and the meeting’s been set up to discuss the future of it. All’s good and we spend a lot of time discussing future projects, important things I think’d work (e.g. distributing the teen cash class guide with the paper), and what campaigns can be done.
  • 15.00 pm. Leave the restaurant, go through emails on phone (another 80 since the last check) start going through that then realise I’m late for a meeting at MSE Towers so jump in a cab.
  • 15.55 pm. Arrive back at MSE towers, to meet Chris A’court – the former editor of BBC Moneybox – in the bar area (MSE towers is in a collective office building which has a coffee bar). He was a colleague of mine when I worked at the beeb in the 90s, and now works in charge of Nationwide’s members section; it’s the first time we’ve met since he moved. We have a quick catch up and I get some info about what’s going on at Nationwide.
  • 16.30 pm. Meet MSE Judy who manages my activities and media work, and we go through the list of requests that’ve come in. As I was out of MSE Towers for the day things have built up: we look at requests from Prima magazine, a few other smaller magazines, Radio 5, and a couple of national newspapers, and decide which I can do and which are too much.
  • 16.45 pm. MSE Guy wants a quote from me for his news story about a poll on who should be chancellor, which apparently I came second in!
  • 17.00 pm. Have a quick chat about the MSE charity support for the ThinkJessica campaign.
  • 17.10 pm. Realise I still haven’t done any more on News of the World and start to get worried.
  • 17.15 pm. Get distracted and have a meet with some of the team about some more changes we’re making to improve the home page.
  • 17.30 pm. Still distracted re-click every link from the weekly email to check the feedback and popularity (it helps me judge what people want and dont want from MSE) and reply to some posts in the forum on bank charges and a couple of news stories.
  • 18.05 pm. Realise I have to do a pre-recorded interview with Radio 5 there and then, and I’ve forgotten to get our ISDN line for radio interviews sorted. Have a small panic moment but sort it out with MSE Brendan’s help. I do the interview with Mathew Bannister (on the Lib Dem bank charges pledge).
  • 18.15 pm. Decide the News of the World column’s not getting any further today, as my Sunday Post column on tax credit overpayments has just arrived. To write this column a journalist from the paper interviews me for 25 mins (I did it on Monday) and writes up the first draft. Then it comes to me and I go through it (as a control freak I always change far too much – defeating the whole point of writing it this way in the first place). This column is then syndicated to a range of regional newspapers and other magazines, so I always try to focus on getting it spot on.
  • 19.00 pm. Finish the column and go through my emails again (another 50 odd).
  • 19.30 pm. Leave MSE towers and go to the gym for 30 mins of exercise.
  • 20.10 pm. Head home, making a couple of calls on the way.
  • 20.15 pm. Sort out some food. Mrs MSE is out so I’m on my own.
  • 21.00 pm. Put Dragons Den on. Turn the computer on as I’m watching to look up I was rather surprised to hear it had 100,000 users a month as I’d never heard of it, and that’s quite a significant figure. I looked it up on google trends where it wasn’t big enough to register, and then Alexa where it was tiny, so would be interested to see how they came to the quoted usage figures.
  • 22.00 pm. Having turned my computer on I stupidly check the site and realise there’s a problem with one of the home page articles – a link to a news story but isn’t connecting through. As I don’t know how to fix it I try and contact a member of the team who does.
  • 22.20 pm. Realise i’d promised myself to write a blog about my day – so start doing so.
  • 22.41 pm. One of the team emails to confirm the home page is fixed.
  • 22.42 pm. Finish writing the blog.

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