Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website
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.

Perhaps without realising the implications of what he was saying Damian McBride has pinpointed the real reason behind the distrust of the Labour government’s spin machine and Gordon Brown’s failure to stamp his authority on the party. In interviews apologising for the lurid emails that led to his resignation in April, McBride insists that it was his responsibility to respond to what he considered were “vitriolic” attacks on Brown by former ministers.

When searching for news and checking facts reporters often have to bend the rules and possibly break the law. But through its covert mass purchase of confidential mobile phone messages the News of the World has blackened the reputation of British journalism. In a true democracy journalists have to be free to investigate without the constant fear of falling foul of the state or of being hounded by the police and the courts.  Indeed principled journalists are ready to go to jail rather than reveal their sources.  But there is a huge difference between a justified breach of personal privacy in support of investigative journalism and a blatant fishing trip for private and confidential information.

Journalists were given little encouragement during a debate on the Priorities for Digital Britain -- a forum held in the wake of the recent report by the outgoing communications minister Lord Carter. Google – which earns 15 per cent of its global income in the UK – insisted it was sharing some of its massive online advertising revenue with UK newspapers and television channels but this was of little reassurance to news providers attending an event organised by the Westminster Media Forum (9.7.2009).

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.