Tonight’s Evening Standard has a headline “Mayor’s spin doctor sent on £11,000 Mumbai trip”. The story revolves around the LDA’s comms director, Lurene Joseph, pictured right, spending £11,400 of our money on a beano to India. The Leaders’ Quest event she attended all sounds very worthy, and I am sure that it is an appropriate way for a pop star or dot com millionaire to spend their own money, but it is not something that a public servant should be doing.
I will probably get flack from either the Mayor’s office or LDA for publishing her picture here. They always seem to be defensive about the naming and shaming of public servants but if you fly business class to India, spend £1,997 on the flight and then stay in two 5 star hotels you might reasonably expect to be named and shamed. The event cost £8,000 plus VAT. Total cost of trip £11,397. I don’t imagine that this is the whole bill. Can you visualise her using her Oyster to get to the airport? No, I don’t think so.
Lurene is one of that modern breed of public sector “comms professionals” who doesn’t understand why ordinary people don’t see the value of spending £100,000 of public money every year on her salary. Believe me there are literally hundreds of these drones. In her own words: “My role is a mix of media, public affairs, internal communications, brand management and stakeholder relations”. What an idiot! How can a state agency with no competition need brand management? The only stakeholders involved are the DTI who give LDA £450 million every year and the Mayor who dictates how it is spent (clue: not on development, certainly not economic development). Let us imagine her stakeholder “engagement” with Livingstone. Lurene: “What do want me to say Mr Mayor? …”