Political parties prepare 'spin rooms' ahead of televised leader debates

Labour is planning to cram dozens of media operatives in to its 'spin room' for tonight's televised prime ministerial debate.

Spin chief: Mandelson to run Labour 'spin room'
Spin chief: Mandelson to run Labour 'spin room'

All three parties are planning to run some form of post-debate spin room from Manchester this evening. The media-management operations will be based on those employed by US political parties following presidential debates.

PRWeek has learned that Labour could have as many as 40 media operatives in its spin room to brief reporters and commentators about the performance of Gordon Brown and his rivals.

A Labour source confirmed the party had provided broadcaster ITV with a lengthy list of names it wanted accreditation for, ranging from Downing Street aides to regional operatives.  At the top of the list is Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who will run the operation.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will also have numerous media operatives in Manchester to brief journalists in the wake of tonight's debate on ITV.

For the Tories, director of strategy Steve Hilton and director of communications Andy Coulson will both occupy key roles in the spin room.

The Lib Dem spin room will be run by Jonny Oates, the party's director of general election communications, who recently rejoined the party from Bell Pottinger.

In the US, where the televised clashes are the focal points of the campaign, spins rooms are seen essential because each debate is followed by an intense round of interpretation and analysis.

Some American political operatives even believe the post-match spin can be as important as the debate itself, potentially determining which exchanges and comments are reported and which are ignored.

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