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Changing times


Ivory Tower: It’s election time for the UK’s leading university-media relations agency

Somewhere in SW1…

McCall: I’m not going to lie. The numbers are sobering.

Levido: They are unprecedented.

McCall: They are, sadly, a reflection of where we are now.

Holden: Is there anything you can do about them?

McCall: I wish I could, but it’s just the way it is.

Levido: But you’ve never submitted an invoice this big before.

McCall: We’ve never done so much work for you before. There is an election on you know.

Levido and Holden: We know.

McCall: I still can’t think what made him call it.

Holden: I think he’d had enough.

Levido: We’ve all had enough, now.

McCall: All that extra polling we’ve had to do, it soon adds up.

Holden: What did you say the sample size was for the one on national service?

McCall: 15,000.

Levido: Wow! That’s big.

McCall: And, sadly, expensive.

Holden: It’s just that we might have expected more than one side of A4 and a bar graph.

McCall: Well, it’s a policy which provokes clarity. Most people think it’s the worst idea since… well, take your pick really… Rwanda, probably. Besides, we were soon on to the next poll about priorities in the tertiary education budget.

Levido: Also, one side of A4 and a bar graph.

McCall: Simple messaging, broken down in an accessible way for time-poor clients in the midst of a busy campaign.

Holden: The numbers feel very similar to the YouGov poll asking the same question.

McCall: Confirmation of what the public thinks.

Levido: How did you say you gathered the data?

[Knock on the door]

McCall: Janet! Do come in. Isaac, Richard, you remember our degree apprentice.

Levido and Holden: Hi, Janet.

Janet: I’ve brought teas for everyone.

McCall: Thank you, so much.

Levido: So, where did the data come from?

McCall: Janet?

Janet: Yes, Mr. McCall?

McCall: Can you explain where the data came from for these polls we’ve been doing for Isaac?

Janet: The internet.

Holden: Ah, you use an online questionnaire.

Janet: No, I just googled YouGov…

McCall: Yes, thank you Janet. Such delicious tea. That will be all for now. [Exit Janet]

Levido: Googled YouGov?

McCall: Googled the YouGov methodology as a sense check, before using our own unique Juniper-McCall AI filter and secret patented mean regression pilot samplifier technology.

Holden: I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

McCall: That’s because it’s secret.

Levido: And you still got the same results as YouGov?

McCall: What can I say? It’s your policy.

Holden: Hardly.

McCall: Were you expecting different results?

Levido: Just something we could show Rishi to cheer him up. He’s a bit down at the moment.

Holden: Aren’t we all.

McCall: Well, we could throw in a pie chart of student attitudes to the Conservative Party.

Levido: Would it cheer him up?

McCall: Probably not.

Holden: You know when ministers do the media round and say, “well we’ve seen private polling that looks quite different”, can’t we have something like that?

McCall: They are lying when they say that though.

Levido: Not at all; we used to have to make up alternative polls for Boris all the time. If he didn’t want to talk about one lot of data on telly, we’d just give him something else entirely.

McCall: Explains a lot. Where did you get the other data from?

Levido: The internet, obviously.

Holden: Which brings me back to this invoice.

McCall: No need to thank me. Payment on 30-day terms is all the thanks we require. You will be able to pay in 30 days’ time, won’t you? You’re not going to pull the shutter down and disappear to the Cayman Islands, or something?

Holden: As if.

Levido: Personally, I’ve got a flight to Sydney booked for the fifth.

McCall: It’s a sad day for all of us. Over the last 14 years, you have been one of… no, let’s be honest, our biggest client, and we value that relationship. It’s just that, going forward, we understand that you may not be spending quite as much money… err time, with us in the future.

Holden: Hence, the stuffed invoice?

[Commotion and voices outside the door, it is pushed open.]

Juniper: Look lively Oliver, we’ve got new clients. Urgently, need to replace that government account once the Tories get kicked… Oh, this is awkward.

McCall: Good morning, Alexander. Isaac and Richard here were just chatting about that their last invoice.

Levido and Holden: Morning, Alexander.

Juniper: You can pay it, right? You’re not pulling out the phone lines and heading to the Isle of Man, are you?

Holden: As if.

Levido: Jersey, perhaps.

Janet: Mr Juniper, if I’m going to make tea for the new clients, I’ll need to wash some cups.

Juniper: And?

Janet: They are being used by Mr McCall’s guests.

McCall: Speaking of washing up, I think we’re just about done here gents. I’ll send over that student attitudes pie chart and if you could just settle the invoice.

Juniper: Sorry, gentlemen, but this room is booked for our next meeting.

McSweeney: Can we come in now? We’re in a bit of a rush; there is an election on. [He pushes in]

Juniper: My, this is awkward.

McSweeney: Not for me.

Juniper: Morgan, do you know Isaac?

McSweeney: Yes, we’ve met.

Juniper: And this is… sorry who are you again?

McCall: This is Richard Holden, chair of the Conservative Party.

Juniper: Is it? I thought that was Greg Bland.

McCall: Hands.

Juniper: I’ve used the gel at the door… Oh I see, never mind. Yes, this is Greg Hands.

McCall: Richard Holden.

Juniper: The latest chair of the Conservative Party.

McSweeney: The last?

Juniper: And this is Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator.

McCall: Wait, I’m going to have to write that down, I’ll never remember that.

McFadden: If you are too busy, we can always find another agency.

Juniper: Not at all, Pat, do come in.

Levido: We were just on our way out.

McSweeney: That’s what I’d heard.

Janet: This way, gents, perhaps I could call you a taxi.

McFadden: I’d heard that too.

Holden: Thank you, Janet. I’ll be in touch about this invoice, Oliver, just need to talk with the treasurer.

Janet: Off to Bermuda, again? That will be lovely this time of year. Just come with me and I’ll sort that cab. [They exit]

Juniper: I thought they’d never leave.

McSweeney: I thought that after 2019.

McCall: Well, it is nice to meet you at last, gents. What can we do for you today?

McFadden: We’re after something to counter this Tory culture war on universities and the young.

McCall: Exclusive polling, perhaps?

McSweeney: Sounds ideal.

McCall: What about a 15,000 sample.

McFadden: Gosh, that’s big.

Juniper: And expensive, sadly.

McSweeney: If we are satisfied with your work, we would be looking to retain you, should we be fortunate enough to form the next government.

McCall: How about a two-fer, an exclusive poll on the national service policy, and another on priorities in the tertiary education budget.

McFadden: Perfect, and could you do anything on student attitudes to the Conservative Party?

McCall: I’m sure our unique Juniper-McCall AI filter and secret patented mean regression pilot samplifier technology could cope with that.

McFadden: Really? What does that look like?

[Knock on the door]

McCall: Janet! More tea, how lovely. Gents, this is Janet our degree apprentice. Don’t know how we would do all this polling without her. Janet, looks like we’re going to need to commission some new data…

Janet: I’ll get my laptop. Oh, and the Liberal Democrats rang. They say thanks for organising that university visit, but Ed Davey has got his head stuck in some railings and ask if you have any suggestions.

Juniper: Call a photographer?

Terms of use: this is a free email for fun on a Friday, it should be shared widely like made up numbers about your political opponent’s tax plans. Want to commission exclusive polling using secret patented mean regression pilot samplifier technology? Want to say hello? Email: ivorytower@researchresearch.com