STEVE SAMPSON on the Brexit Party’s new spin doctor, making waves before he has even opened his mouth.
Jack Irvine, the new Brexit Party attack dog. He’ll be loving it. Back in the headlines. Attacked from all sides.
The former Scottish Editor of The Sun, currently chairman of PR firm Media House, is the new director of campaign communications for the Brexit Party’s General Election push. The mouthy brash party which wants to kick Europe in the goolies and anyone else who gets in their way. Who better than Jack Boot? By Christ, I hope he lets rip.
He’s already got the Huffington Post in a lather. A screaming headline last week with “slobbering old Queers” – a quote uttered by Irvine during the Blair government’s Gay Rights campaign to equalise the age of consent for 16-year-olds. Bringing a 21-year-old story bang up to date.
Jack came to PR late. He was a senior production executive going nowhere at the Daily Record. They ruled the roost in Scotland, The editor didn’t like him. Me neither. That changed when the Scottish Sun came along. He and I were the founder editorial team. And it wasn’t long before the circulation was roaring up the way. The Daily Record editor got the bullet. The next one didn’t do much better.
It was where Jack learned the dark arts. Breaking huge stories… lawyers, cops and crooks trooping through reception. All making headlines, never out of trouble. Rupert Murdoch flew into to see us from New York. Editor Kelvin MacKenzie told us later: ”Rupert either said we’ve got the right pair there. Or a right pair there”. Who cared? There was only one speed – ramming.
Naughty stuff? Not really. Scotland’s most wanted man surrendered to The Sun one Friday. He had gone over the wall at Barlinnie Prison. Thirty armed cops hunting him, but he trusted us to keep him alive. That was a bit of a day. Just lucky, I guess. A fiscal in Fife wanted to arrest us for revealing how a woman had been murdered. Said we were possibly shielding the killer. Who? A cop? As for the judges, it was a busy time.
Jack set up Media House with another former Daily Record big gun David Whitton. They were a formidable pairing, Whitton became a MSP, tapped right into the political heartbeat. David Scott, the BBC and STV big beast, summed them up perfectly: ”Everyone loves Jack but nobody trusts him. No one likes David, but everyone trusts him.”
The fox hunting fraternity paid Jack a fortune to fight their case. He was deeply involved in the Rangers Football Club tribulations advising in the dogfight for control. Stagecoach millionaires Ann Gloag and Brian Soutar paid him handsomely to watch their backs. Soutar using Jack in the battle to keep Section 28 banning the promotion of homosexuality. They lost.
Jack has depth, he’ll sum up the position – then go for the jugular. The Brexit Party won’t win seats taking the middle ground or sucking up to the Tories. They are ram-raiders and Jack is the perfect battering ram. The Sun was to set the agenda for the week. Start with a bang, hog the noise. He’ll be picking his targets right now.
He is pals with another Scottish media stiletto – Andrew Neil, the BBC’s most feared political interviewer. Peas in a pod really, proud ordinary lads, well-educated and ambitious, both got to the top with Murdoch. You’d pay to see the pair of them go head to head. Two beachmasters slugging it out.
It would be tempting to say: “Don’t be fooled by Jack’s hard exterior. Underneath it he really is a bastard”. He isn’t. Much as he would like you all to think so.
Steve Sampson is former Assistant, Northern and Scottish Editor of The Sun newspaper, a Director of Trinity Mirror publications including the Daily Record and Sunday Mail and Business Insider. He was a launch presenter of Radio5 Live, founder of First Press Publishing and contributes to the BBC. He is an investor/owner across a series of digital initiatives, and a media adviser