Friday, 10 July 2009

Part of the story

A fascinating piece in the Independent from Steve Richards, who argues that it's bad for a spin doctor like Andy Coulson to become part of the story but feels that the influence of spin doctors is overblown.

But then, if you are or have been a political correspondent, you may be too close to the issue - or the spinner - to see the problems. Richards thinks that Alastair Campbell's significance has been overstated:
During Labour's conference in 1996 an entire, tedious Panorama focused on Labour and spin, a few months before the general election.

Throughout the pre-election period more words were written about Campbell than any member of the Shadow Cabinet apart from Gordon Brown. On the whole Campbell fumed against what he regarded, rightly, as a disproportionate focus on his activities. But I suspect in the early years at least those involved in presenting new Labour's case were flattered at the suggestion they were mesmerising titans.

It's quite amazing that Richards seems to be telling us that Campbell was angry at what he saw. How does he know what Campbell thought? Campbell may have professed anger but he was a spin doctor - geddit? At least Richards shows some grasp of the possibility that what Campbell said was not the same as what he really felt.

On balance Richards thinks Coulson will get away with being implicated in the News of the World phone tapping scandal, although becoming the story will be a problem. Not least:

Who does [Cameron] turn to for advice about how to handle the media's sudden interest in his Director of Communications?

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