Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

By “that tick Nick Jones” *

Political spin doctors rarely miss the chance to denigrate those who dare to question their authority, a compulsion which remains as strong as ever in the psyche of Alastair Campbell.


When the Chilcot Inquiry released the letter from Major General Michael Laurie which challenged Campbell’s evidence about the purpose of the Iraqi weapons dossier, Tony Blair’s former director of communications did not miss a trick when responding via his Twitter account:


“Nothing to add to evidence to inquiry. Dossier not the case for war. Set out why govt more concerned re Iraq WMD. Never met General Laurie.”

Despite denying repeatedly that he played a ‘sexing up game’ when working on the government’s much-criticised dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, Alastair Campbell acknowledged in his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry (12.1.2010) that his role had been unprecedented.

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.

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.

Yet again the Labour Party is paying a heavy price for giving free rein to political attack dogs who have the status of civil servants but whose uncontrollable behaviour is undermining the democratic process.  Damian McBride’s crude attempt at smearing both the leader of the Opposition and the shadow chancellor is par for the course in the every day story of the apparatchiks on whom the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues have come to rely. But while Gordon Brown is rightly being blamed for having lost control of his politically-driven spin doctors, David Cameron should also be in the frame.  He too has some questions to answer.