Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website
Will the fall-out from the scandal over MPs’ expenses – and the probable election of a Conservative government – lead to a clean-up in the spin culture of Downing Street and Whitehall?   Greater transparency has become the mantra across the public sector and the government’s spin machine is unlikely to escape unscathed.

Simon Lewis, the Prime Minister’s new official spokesman, says he only took the job on condition it would be non political and that he would be able to conduct himself with civil service neutrality. Unlike previous Downing Street directors of communications such as Alastair Campbell, Lewis is not a Labour Party appointee.  He has accepted a two-year civil service contract and when asked (at a debate in London at the Reform Club 1.7.2009) whether he would like to remain at No.10 should David Cameron defeat Gordon Brown in the general election expected in May 2010, he made it clear he has an open mind and intends to wait and see what happens.

 Simon Lewis, the newly-appointed director of communications in Downing Street, might be forgiven for thinking his only role will be to pull down the shutters on the last chance saloon for the Labour Party’s discredited spin doctors. But although the Prime Minister has probably less than a year in power, Lewis does have an opportunity to turn a new page in the government’s relationship with the news media and roll back the abuses which were institutionalised by Alastair Campbell and which spawned the Damian McBride scandal.

Almost lost amid the United Kingdom’s minimal news coverage of the election campaign for the European Parliament and the English county councils were some significant developments within the British media landscape.  Newspaper websites broke new ground in their bid to challenge other news outlets and showed they could compete head on with mainstream television and radio services.

All too often elections to the European Parliament have been reduced to not much more than a snapshot of the popularity of each national government.  When the United Kingdom votes to elect 72 MEPs -- in what The Times says is the election that “never happened” -- British voters seem destined to give a good kicking not just to the Labour government of Gordon Brown but also to the entire political establishment.