Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Depending on who you believe, Gordon Brown is now in his fifth or is it his sixth worst week as Prime Minister. It doesn’t matter who is right: what is so damaging to the Labour government is that in the eyes of the news media the Brown Premiership is now in crisis mode, in the same kind of downward spiral which ended with John Major’s humiliating defeat a decade ago.

However hard ministers might try to regain the initiative, most journalists are now judging events simply on the basis of whether or not they constitute yet another disaster for an accident-prone administration.

Major was depicted by the cartoonists as a wimp who tucked his shirt into his underpants just as Brown is now being ridiculed un-mercilessly and has progressed from a brooding bear-like grump into a bumbling and incompetent Mr Bean.

Tony Blair ended his decade in power as badly damaged by the word "spin" as John Major was by "sleaze". How, after a mere one hundred days in office, could Gordon Brown have finished up with the same dreaded label "spin" hanging just as firmly around his own neck?

What the new Prime Minister became a victim of was uncontrolled spinning which is not only eroding the credibility of his government but is also destabilising his party and eating away at trust and friendship within the wider labour and trade union movement.

In place of the control freakery of the early Blair years, we are witnessing a new phenomenon. By uncontrolled spin I mean the unstoppable trade in anonymous quotes, leaks and tip-offs which, for example, did so much damage within the party during the final years of the Blair-Brown feud and which is still causing just as much mischief.

Guest lecture by Nicholas Jones at Loughborough University, 7.11.2007

Tony Blair finished his decade in power as badly damaged by the word "spin" as John Major was by "sleaze". How, after a mere one hundred days in office, could Gordon Brown have ended up with the same dreaded label "spin" hanging just as firmly around his own neck? What the new Prime Minister has become a victim of is the uncontrolled spinning which is not only eroding the credibility of the government but is also destabilising his party and eating away at trust and friendship within the wider Labour and trade union movement.

From its inception New Labour encouraged a culture of spin which is now more deeply embedded within Britain than other comparable countries. The relationship between our politicians and the news media is much closer, more manipulative and poses a far greater threat to the democratic process. But in place of the control freakery of the early Blair years, what we are witnessing is a new phenomenon. By uncontrolled spin I mean the unstoppable trade in anonymous quotes, leaks and tip-offs which, for example, did so much damage within the party during the final years of the Blair-Brown feud and which is still causing just as much mischief.

It is the same runaway spin which fuelled so much speculation about a snap general election that the hype developed a momentum of its own, with the result that Brown found he had boxed himself in.

A succession of disastrous newspaper headlines for Prime Minister Gordon Brown provided an ideal illustration for the political reporters of Kazakhstan of the robust relationship which exists between the British press and the government of the United Kingdom.

No wonder the journalists of this former Soviet republic are in dire need of inspiration: they are having to try to report the activities of a Parliament which since August has turned Kazakhstan into a one-party state.

September 10, 2007 

By allowing "political storytellers" like Alastair Campbell to have so much influence in presenting the case for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush and Blair had made it more likely the post-Iraq trauma would be even worse than the aftermath of the withdrawal from Vietnam.

Sam Gardiner, a retired USAF colonel who investigates the media strategies of the US military, believes that unless Gordon Brown manages to distance himself from the way the wars were spun he will get caught up in a convulsion which is bound to damage the credibility of Britain as well as America.