DIARY: Suits you sir, as Channel 5 plans to expose spin during general election

In retrospect, it was an innovation waiting to happen. Ever since

former BBC war reporter Martin Bell beat disgraced Tory Neil Hamilton in

Tatton in the 1997 general election, a white suit - Bell's trademark -

was bound to feature in the campaign this time around.

Rumours persist of Bell's plan to stand against another Tory, Eric

Pickles, in the Essex seat of Brentwood and Ongar. In the meantime,

Channel 5 has co-opted the white suit 'concept' in a bid to unmask the

spin used by party PROs and hold stage-managed events up to televisual


The station has handed ITN reporter John Gilbert a brief to travel the

country during the campaign 'exposing election lies and staged photo


A Channel 5 spokesman joked to the Press Gazette last week that Gilbert

had a distinctive way of 'asking rude questions in a very rude way'.

Channel 5 has unveiled a range of initiatives designed to ensure its

election programming is lively and entertaining as well as plain


For example, the channel has tasked its consumer affairs correspondent,

Charlotte Hume, with a daily political agony aunt segment during which

viewers will have the implications of that day's events explained.

The Man in the White Suit and Dear Charlotte should introduce 'a

completely fresh approach to election reporting', a station spokeswoman


Martin Bell would surely approve.

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