A BBC producer known as “Gobby” has been appointed Ukip’s director of communications.
Paul Lambert, a veteran of the corporation’s political coverage, earned his nickname because he was the BBC’s voice off-camera shouting questions across the road to ministers on their way in and out of 10 Downing Street, with the question posed often being: “Will you resign?”
But on Sunday Ukip announced Lambert would be switching from trying to get politicians out of office to trying to get its representatives into parliament, as a key member of Nigel Farage’s election team.
Lambert said: “Over the past few years I have been following the work of Ukip and Nigel Farage, and I feel that he is changing British politics for the better. I am delighted to be able to add my experience to his team. He has been one of the best, most hardworking and most normal political figures I have worked with, and trust me I have seen the lot.”
Other famous Gobby moments included asking the chancellor last week “Have you fixed the deficit yet?” and David Cameron and Nick Clegg “Are you off to renew your vows?”
He briefly had his Commons pass suspended in 2011 for filming the aftermath of the foam attack on Rupert Murdoch at a phone-hacking hearing, in contravention of rules on what can be filmed inside parliament buildings, but it was reinstated after a “save Gobby” campaign on social media.
Farage described Lambert as “one of the best in town”. He said: “Knowing him, and how effective he has always been in getting his message across, he will fit Ukip like a glove. Drive, passion, hard work, honesty and immense good humour are the hallmarks of Paul. It’ll be fun working with him.” Last week, the Ukip leader accused the BBC of using “selective quotations” after comments he made about breastfeeding provoked an outcry.
Farage joins political rivals Cameron and Boris Johnson in appointing an ex-BBC journalist as director of communications. Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell tweeted: “That BBC ‘full of lefties’ – now providing the Ukip comms team.”
BBC Newsnight’s political editor, Allegra Stratton, said Lambert would be an asset to Ukip. She tweeted: “Shock departure of @westminstergoby to Ukip doesn’t trigger byelection at the BBC … But it leaves a big hole. Very good hire for Farage.”
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