Nick Jones

Sultans of Spin Author Nicholas Jones Published by Victor Gollancz hardback 1999 ISBN 0-575-06732-2 Orion paperback (updated) 1999 ISBN 0-75282-769-3

Does presentation matter more to New Labour than the proper procedures of government?  For Labour's spin doctors the transition from opposition to government did not come easy, and the initial image of a government which could do no wrong was soon buried under a heap of banana skins. The New Labour machine, so streamlined and smoothly oiled when attacking the Conservatives, spluttered when faced with the realities of power.  Embarrassments came and went, but for many political observers - and politicians - they were symptomatic of a larger issue: was style now winning over substance?

In Sultans of Spin Nicholas Jones, acclaimed journalist and writer on the uneasy relationship between politicians and the media, examines the failure and successes of the Labour media machine during the first years in power.

The trials and tribulations of the New Labour propagandists: Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One and tobacco advertising; the "psychologically flawed" Gordon Brown and his rivalry with Tony Blair; Lord Irvine and his expensive new wallpaper; Rupert Murdoch's need for a little help from his friend; "Whenever you are ready, just tell me what you want, who you want to meet, and Derek and I will make the call for you."

The Control Freaks  Author Nicholas Jones Published by Politico's Publishing 2001 harback ISBN 1 902301 76 5 paperback 2002 (updated) ISBN 1 902301 83 8

Nicholas Jones has never toed the Westminster line. After nearly three decades on the front line of British politics he has built a formidable reputation as a journalist prepared to break ranks with fellow lobby correspondents and reveal the reality of the New Labour media manipulation. The Control Freaks provides an audit of the unprecedented powers and resources acquired by Tony Blair and his media advisers as the obsession with control - born of a determination that Labour should never repeat the chaos of the 1980s - became ever more ingrained.

This is an unsettling book, for behind the day-to-day diet of spin and gossip lurk uncomfortable questions. How far has the civil service been politicised? And - most important of all - how far has the democratic process itself been compromised?

Nicholas Jones has been a thorn in the flesh of New Labour's coterie of spin doctors. His previous book Sultans of Spin was ridiculed for containing "utter bollocks" by Gordon Brown's former spin doctor Charlie Whelan. But Gerald Kaufman MP, a Labour media strategist from an earlier era, who held an equally jaundiced opinion, agreed that Jones had a job to do: "Pain in the neck though he may be, Jones constitutes a persuasive argument for the role of journalist as a useful nuisance.  Long may he and his tape recorder flourish - but, if he doesn't mind, as far away as possible from me." 

Campaign 2001 Author Nicholas Jones. Published by Politico's Publishing 2001, ISBN 1 902301 78 1

 

Campaign 2001 offers a first hand account of the 2001 general election which produced a kaleidoscope of political images. Pride of place goes to the Prescott punch, a straight left jab to the chin of an egg-throwing protestor which proved the most startling image of the whole campaign. But there were plenty of other enduring memories: the curious disappearance of the shadow Treasury spokesman Oliver Letwin, the mystery of Shaun Woodward's butler, Sharron Storer buttonholing Tony Blair about the inadequacies of the NHS, Baroness Thatcher in The Mummy Returns.  For all the political knockabout, the campaign brought about very little change: Tony Blair returned to Downing Street with another landslide, while the Tories managed just one more seat than in the catastrophic 1997 vote, then settled down into an apparently interminable leadeship struggle.  Veteran BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones, an acclaimed chronicler of the stormy relationship between politicians and the press, witnessed the whole election at close quarters, and his campaign diary forms the latest of his compelling dispatches from the front line of British politics.

In his introduction to Campaign 2001, Jones explains why he found the 2001 campaign like no other he had previously reported: "On the one hand the Labour victory seemed all but certain; on the other hand there were unsettling factors suggesting an unpredictable outcome. Because of a crippling outbreak of foot and mouth disease that had beset the country since February, Tony Blair had to disappoint the Labour Party and abandon his preferred polling day of Thursday 3 May.  When he postponed the election until Thursday 7 June, many of his MPs feared that victory was about to repeat itself and that Blair had taken a step which could prove as dangerous as the ill-fated decision of Labour's last Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, who delayed polling day until May 1979 and then lost to Margaret Thatcher.

Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs  Author Nicholas Jones. Published by Politico's Publishing 2006 ISBN 978-1-84275-090-2

Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs reveals the largely unexplored world of the leaker and exposes the hidden trade in confidential documents. Politicians, ministerial aides and spin doctors hope to gain favourable coverage by offering exclusive stories to the news media. They find willing accomplices in journalists, only too eager to exploit the illicitly gained data supplied by leakers and information traders. Deliberate leaking of ministerial decisions in advance of official announcements has become almost institutionalised under Tony Blair's government, and the leading offenders within the government are named and described in detail here.

Trading Information examines the factors which have given risen to the expanding trade in unauthorised disclosures under both Labour and Conservative governments.  A leaker himself, in the "Bastardgate" controversy involving John Major, the author has interviewed a group of serial leakers and gives vivid first-hand accounts of their methods and their motives.  Nicholas jones gives the insight of a BBC insider into the unauthorised briefings given by the late Dr David Kelly. 

Unlike the City of London, where illicit trading in sensitive data for commercial gain is a criminal offence, ministers and their advisers cannot be held to account for leaking official information for political advantage. Nicholas Jones laments the failure of MPs and peers to address an abuse that has weakened the authority of Parliament and allows spin doctors seemingly to rule supreme.

Campaign 2010CAMPAIGN 2010
The Making of the Prime Minister
Nicholas Jones

Published 1st July 2010
378pp Paperback £9.99



On 11 May 2010 David Cameron walked calmly through the door of 10 Downing Street after five days of political theatre which almost brought the administration of the country to a standstill and which then opened up a new chapter in the post-war government of Britain. Defying all the journalists' and pundits' best guesses the Conservatives formed a pact with the Liberal Democrats to create the first coalition government since the Second World War, led by the youngest Prime Minister since 1812.

CAMPAIGN 2010 is the full, extraordinary story of the 2010 general election, told by one of Westminster's most seasoned observers. As well as all the thrills and spills of the campaign itself - the TV debates, the emergence of "Cleggmania", Gordon Brown's "Bigotgate" encounter with Gillian Duffy, and the supporting roles played by the leaders' wives (and by the media, who consistently seemed to call the wrong result) - Jones looks at the origins of David Cameron himself and the pivotal events along his road to power, including the 2005 party conference speech that won him the leadership, Gordon Brown's bottled election that never was of 2007, the MPs' expenses scandal, dealing with the non-doms, and Rupert Murdoch's switch of allegiance.

Nobody is better placed to provide a detailed, detached highly illuminating chronicle of this unique electoral saga than Nicholas Jones, who as BBC industrial and then political correspondent covered general elections for over thirty years.


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