Diary: Fishy rentacrowd tactics exposed

Still on the election stump, New Labour's news management techniques are attracting headlines - for all the wrong reasons.

The Daily Mail last week slammed the party's spinners for 'shipping in photogenic people' to greet Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at a photocall in London's old Billingsgate Market.

Hacks had a field day exposing how one family, the Virgos from East London, had been wheeled out by Labour on a previous occasion to endorse Blair and Brown.

The Times's Ben Macintyre amusingly wrote, in reference to the photocall and its location: 'Perhaps it was ghosts of mackerel past but the whole event seemed distinctly fishy from the outset.' Macintyre even reports the BBC's Andrew Marr 'arguing furiously' with Blair's comms director David Hill over issues at the Billingsgate event.

PRWeek's enquiries to Labour HQ - to ask whether it was curtains for the Virgo family's PR usefulness - and to the Tories - to ask whether they ever get up to such antics - were not returned.

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