Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website
Coalition government has not put an end to political spin but so far the Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration has been refreshingly free of an over-arching concentration on media presentation.  David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been as resolute as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in their determination to command the news agenda while not allowing their urge to manipulate the media to become an obsession. 

If ever an anti-spin award is introduced for public servants, perhaps the first recipient should be General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, who is currently the target of a New Labour campaign of vilification.  Once Labour’s leading apologist, Lord Foulkes, entered the fray and started parroting the anonymous smears of the Blair-Brown spin machine, General Dannatt must have known he had finally made his mark.

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.

 London, May 1, 2009
Andrew Gilliagn (l) and Jamie SheaA chilling insight into the military mindset -- as explained by Nato’s leading media strategist Jamie Shea -- provided an unexpected but revealing talking point at UNESCO’s annual world press freedom day debate on the international media’s role at times of war. Shea spoke in support of the motion that “governments at war are winning the battle of controlling the international media” – a motion that carried the day by a majority of more than two to one.