EDITORIAL: A spanner in the works of peace

This Sunday, viewers will be treated to the sight of a pot alleging that a kettle is blackening the Northern Ireland peace process. In an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby due to be broadcast by LWT, Senator George Mitchell questions the strategies of Downing Street’s press spokesman and accuses the Government of serial ’leaking and spinning’ in a bid to manipulate public opinion over Northern Ireland.

This Sunday, viewers will be treated to the sight of a pot alleging

that a kettle is blackening the Northern Ireland peace process. In an

interview with Jonathan Dimbleby due to be broadcast by LWT, Senator

George Mitchell questions the strategies of Downing Street’s press

spokesman and accuses the Government of serial ’leaking and spinning’ in

a bid to manipulate public opinion over Northern Ireland.



Admittedly, the success of the peace process has at various times been

overstated by both Alastair Campbell and Mo Mowlam, but doesn’t every

Government official seek, by default, to present policies or events in

the most positive light? Surely Senator Mitchell, coming as he does from

the land that invented spin, could not be so naive as to believe that

every congressman, senator, or press spokesman would not be tempted to

do the same given the soul destroying nature of the Irish challenge? His

evident distaste for a process of presentation which this Government

borrowed, after all, from its US political counterparts, indicates a

conveniently short memory.



In addition, while the Northern Ireland Office appears, as suggested by

Mitchell, to have been responsible for a number of leaks, these have

chiefly been detrimental to Labour’s own position. While the Irish have,

in turn, assiduously briefed and ’spun’ in order to set the public

agenda prior to every Anglo-Irish conference. For the peace process to

be finally derailed by partisan presentation would truly be a travesty,

but to suggest that the whole process can take place in a vacuum devoid

of spin is unrealistic idealism.



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