Opinion: Were the party 'memos' really leaked?

There is nothing like a few leaked internal memos to spice up an election campaign - and even better if they are from the two key election strategists.

Lynton Crosby and Alastair Campbell both had their name in the papers recently because of things they wrote to their workers. However, in the even blacker art of spin during an election campaign, it is not clear exactly where the memos came from. Surely anyone with half a brain knows that no email is secure, even if it is only sent around campaign headquarters. So how genuine are they?

The Crosby one, which told his team they were going through a tough time, first appeared in the Labour-supporting Guardian under the byline of arch Blairite Patrick Wintour. One ex-Guardian hack told me that it could quite easily have come from the Labour dirty tricks department.

Invented memos are nothing new. I confess to doing something similar myself with a certain Alastair Campbell. We simply made up an internal memo and leaked it to a BBC Today programme journalist who, believing it to be genuine, ran with it. The fictitious memo stated that the Tory leadership candidate we feared most was Ken Clarke. In truth it was Michael Portillo. Our strategy was to give Clarke a boost at the expense of Portillo - and it worked.

As for Campbell's latest memo, it may be possible that The Sunday Times has a mole within Labour's campaign HQ and paid a large wedge for the document. But I reckon it came from Campbell himself.

Think about it. Tony Blair's spin doctor would have been delighted to be named as Labour's 'chief election strategist' in all the papers. Whatever happened to Alan Milburn? Very little, if any, damage has been done with the offending memo because not even the most anti-Labour papers could interpret Campbell's words as 'crowing about victory'. In fact, it could be interpreted that Labour is still very worried about the turnout. Funny how Labour campaign HQ conveniently published the full text of the memo.

Stories about leaked memos are great fun but they don't really add up to a hill of beans in the grander scheme of things. As always, the party that wins (Labour) will do so because it is near to the centre ground of politics. Thanks to Crosby and his immigration and asylum strategy, Michael Howard is now placed 53 points to the right of centre in the polls, according to The Daily Telegraph. On average, the electorate see themselves two points to the left. Guess where a certain Prime Minister is placed? Yes, smack bang in the centre.

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