Brown irks columnists

Gordon Brown has caused a stir among political pundits by hiring an adviser specifically to target the "commentariat".

Downing Street confirmed the appointment of Paul Sinclair, a former aide to international development secretary Douglas Alexander. Sinclair has already set up a series of meetings with leading commentators including The Guardian's Polly Toynbee.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said commentators would 'regard it as appalling that someone was being paid to persuade us what to think'. But The Times' Daniel Finkelstein said: 'Columnists absolutely can be swayed, provided the person proceeds through lucid arguments.'

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