WAR DIARY: 'Tempers are frayed, the tempo has increased'.MoD information officer Jonathan Spencer's diary continues, with the press office keen to formulate the Government's message on 'carpet bombing'

Monday 29 October

We host a press conference at the MoD, which gives us an important

opportunity to address the Arab and Islamic media, and others. We cover

all those from ABC to Al-Jazeera. All have their individual issues and

angles, and a good question deserves an answer from a spokesman.

Secretary of State Geoff Hoon is off to Washington with our chief press

officer, Simon Wren. He is going to have talks with Defense Secretary

Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

So minister of state Adam Ingram goes on Newsnight.

It is always better to get a chance to be face-to-face in a studio - it

adds balance to an interview and injects personality. You don't always

get that from a two-way video link, which can be a lonely four minutes

and a rough ride against Jeremys Vine or Paxman. In the car on the way

we review issues and lines to take.

Tuesday 30 October

Tough headlines in The Mirror and The Times are unfair and misleading,

in our view.

There seems to be an attempt to find a gap between the military and

government on the readiness of our Marines for combat. Quotes are taken

out of context.

There's a line wrongly attributed to the Admiral on HMS Illustrious and

Downing Street wants to be clear for the morning lobby.

We take a string of calls from Number 10 - and one to Illustrious from

Northwood HQ. The Admiral is clear and it's an issue sorted.

Wednesday 31 October

Tempers are frayed, the operational tempo has increased in the press

office and there are gaps in the duty rota. We have a pause to take

stock of attitudes and concerns.

Simon is back, jet-lagged, and PRO Paul Sykes is a tad over-cooked from

his trip with the minister to the desert sun of Oman. Both could do

without dissent in the ranks.

If we're in for the long haul it will take some forward thinking and a

back-up rota - cool heads are needed.

Thursday 1 November

A strangely quiet day - a lull after a storm - time to attend to

unopened e-mails (and overtime forms). Then everything in Wren's in-tray

flies across the desk, exploding like the contents of a B52.

The Foreign Office needs a line on 'carpet bombing'. It's an inaccurate

term that gives an impression of indiscriminate attacks, when strikes

are targeting terrorist and military sites. This is the message we need

to get across.

Friday 2 November

An MoD press officer off to Islamabad has a meeting with Alastair

Campbell. Coalition Information Centres are being established for media

activity and news as it breaks across time zones.

PA is saying army radios don't work in the desert. Like other kit, it's

used as a stick to bash the Government. It isn't news, but that won't

stop the Daily Mail.

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