One of the golden rules of good PR is that the medium should never
be more high profile than the message - a fact recognised by Gordon
Brown’s ebullient former press secretary Charlie Whelan in his
resignation statement this week.
David Blunkett is determined that Whelan’s resignation will signal an
end to the media’s obsession with spin doctors, while born again old
Labourite John Prescott has made clear his intention to sacrifice spin
in favour of substance.
Despite media suggestions of a shift of power into the Campbell camp,
Tony Blair’s ’spin doctor’ is now likely to come under considerable
pressure to become virtually invisible. But in attempting to dumb down
the emphasis on presentation, there is a real danger that the Government
will throw the baby out with the bathwater.
While in Opposition, Labour effected a real revolution in terms of
communication with the media; a more open presentation of policy
development; and the appearance, at least, of a united front. The fact
that the Conservative Party has used Millbank’s communications machinery
as a blueprint to restructure its own is a testament to its
What is needed now is a return to this unity - a move away from the
focus on individuals - and for ministers to finally stop using the
considerable skills of Labour’s press secretaries to carve out their own