DIARY: Modern phenomenon has a historical basis

As the results of last week’s PR Week survey show, the vast majority of the British public have never even heard of the term spin doctor, but they are hardly a new breed.

As the results of last week’s PR Week survey show, the vast majority of

the British public have never even heard of the term spin doctor, but

they are hardly a new breed.



This month’s History Today shows that spin doctors have existed in one

form or another for more than 150 years.



The term itself is said to come from Jacob Faithfull, an 1835 novel by

Captain Frederick Marryat, which begins: ‘Come doctor, spin us one of

your yarns.’ Royal spinners go back even further than that.



William Cobbett became press counsellor to Queen Caroline in 1821, while

a generation before Joseph Doane was recruited to improve George III’s

image.



More recent parallels can be drawn between Boris Yeltsin’s health

problems and the stroke which incapacitated Churchill in 1953. Calling

on the skills of his press baron friend Lord Camrose, Churchill hung on

to power for another two years. It remains to be seen if Yeltsin will

last that long.



edited by Rebecca Dowman



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in