Campbell backed by Wilson on GICS tactics

Alastair Campbell stands wrongly accused of trying to politicise the Government’s information service, Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson told the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Administration on Tuesday.

Alastair Campbell stands wrongly accused of trying to politicise

the Government’s information service, Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard

Wilson told the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Administration

on Tuesday.



The Government’s new, more centralised, communications strategy

instigated by the Prime Minister’s press secretary was part of a

’systematic and determined effort to coordinate the presentation of

Government policies and messages in a positive light across the whole of

the Government,’ said Wilson.



Wilson was speaking at an investigation on reforms to the Government

Information and Communication Service (GICS) and press lobby briefing

system. His appearance followed evidence earlier by former Government

spin doctor Bernard Ingham, who accused Campbell of destroying the

impartiality of the GICS.



While defending Campbell Wilson warned: ’The responsibility for

monitoring the boundary (between party politics and Government duty) is

down to me and the Prime Minister. If he were to go wrong, I would go

along and say, ’watch it’.’



Wilson, whose predecessor Sir Robin Butler instigated the reform of the

GICS, insisted that recent changes, including a new strategic

communication unit at 10 Downing Street, did not mean that Campbell was

intent on politicising the information service.



He said it was right that Campbell’s wages should be paid by

taxpayers.



’Alastair Campbell is not a Labour Party spokesman, he is a spokesman on

behalf of the Government and this is proper expenditure for the tax

payer,’ said Wilson.



WILSON REPORT: RECOMMENDATIONS EXPECTED



While Alastair Campbell works to centralise the GICS at 10 Downing

Street, Sir Richard Wilson has conducted a review of Government

presentation and policymaking, which is expected to recommend a

strengthening of the Cabinet Office.



Although the Wilson Report is still officially under wraps, recent press

rumours suggest that its recommendations would turn the Cabinet Office

into the Government’s chief implementation unit, effectively merging it

with the Prime Minister’s team at Downing Street, and giving Blair

greater control over the levers of power at Whitehall.



Peter Mandelson is tipped to be given a full Cabinet role as chief

troubleshooter.



Wilson refused to be drawn on the contents of the report when questioned

by Tuesday’s committee . ’We are doing more work on some aspects. It is

for the Prime Minister to decide what he wants to say and when.’



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