OPINON: BERNARD INGHAM - PR's good sense imploded last week

Last Saturday - 10/02/2001 - may, according to The Independent, be the first truly palindromic date for 808 years - since 29/11/1192. It also marked the end of a week in which too many PR people went stark, staring bonkers.

Last Saturday - 10/02/2001 - may, according to The Independent, be the first truly palindromic date for 808 years - since 29/11/1192. It also marked the end of a week in which too many PR people went stark, staring bonkers.

Tony Blair put the euro at the centre of the next election by confessing a decision would be made on entry within two years of the poll. That was, to say the least, a curious pledge when the European Commission's barometer revealed British support for the euro is at an all-time low of 21 per cent. Mr Blair is not noted for backing losers.

Keith Vaz, the beleaguered Foreign Office Minister, played the race card in defending himself from, it seems, a full Heinz - 57 different varieties of charges best summarised as conduct unbecoming. Eleven leading members of the Asian and black communities complained in a letter to the Guardian of a 'ferocious witch hunt' against him on racial grounds. Fortunately, the Asian community is not without people of good sense. Labour and Lib Dem peers Desai and Dholakia hastily rejected the notion, saying they feared it would discredit their community.

Peter Mandelson, who is certainly not being pursued because of his colour, finally spun out of control in his distress at throwing away a political career. He also provoked Number 10 into a flurry of, please note, unattributable abuse in these supposedly on-the-record days, by describing him, among other things, as 'emotionally incontinent'. In the course of a few days, Mr Mandelson succeeded in demonstrating why nobody but nobody should follow his PR ways. He seems to think you can - and should - sell a lousy product, regardless. Far from sustaining his government and himself in office, his brand of PR has undermined both.

And if Number 10 continues to employ his methods against him, it will sink them, too.

This brings me to the Press Complaints Commission's tenth birthday party.

This is the body which grew out of the old Press Council that was formed in the 1950s to self-regulate newspapers out of their proneness to excess.

Latterly, under the byzantinely-complex former Tory Cabinet minister, Lord Wakeham, it has done a good job. But its glittering birthday bash for celebrities revealed its capacity for going barmy, too.

I am not concerned whether it was used by Prince Charles as part of his long-term campaign to reconcile us to Camilla Parker Bowles, both of whom attended. Or whether it was part of Prince William's social education by exposing him to the press's pirhanas. Instead, I merely ask what you would think of a Lord Chief Justice, who, even in these debased days, organised a knees-up between the judiciary and its most socially visible plaintiffs and a plethora of the usual suspects. This is no way for a quasi-judicial body to behave, especially when its independence is compromised because it is financed by the press barons.

Is everybody cracking up?



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.