Alastair Campbell stands wrongly accused of trying to politicise
the Government’s information service, Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard
Wilson told the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Administration
The Government’s new, more centralised, communications strategy
instigated by the Prime Minister’s press secretary was part of a
’systematic and determined effort to coordinate the presentation of
Government policies and messages in a positive light across the whole of
the Government,’ said Wilson.
Wilson was speaking at an investigation on reforms to the Government
Information and Communication Service (GICS) and press lobby briefing
system. His appearance followed evidence earlier by former Government
spin doctor Bernard Ingham, who accused Campbell of destroying the
impartiality of the GICS.
While defending Campbell Wilson warned: ’The responsibility for
monitoring the boundary (between party politics and Government duty) is
down to me and the Prime Minister. If he were to go wrong, I would go
along and say, ’watch it’.’
Wilson, whose predecessor Sir Robin Butler instigated the reform of the
GICS, insisted that recent changes, including a new strategic
communication unit at 10 Downing Street, did not mean that Campbell was
intent on politicising the information service.
He said it was right that Campbell’s wages should be paid by
’Alastair Campbell is not a Labour Party spokesman, he is a spokesman on
behalf of the Government and this is proper expenditure for the tax
payer,’ said Wilson.
WILSON REPORT: RECOMMENDATIONS EXPECTED
While Alastair Campbell works to centralise the GICS at 10 Downing
Street, Sir Richard Wilson has conducted a review of Government
presentation and policymaking, which is expected to recommend a
strengthening of the Cabinet Office.
Although the Wilson Report is still officially under wraps, recent press
rumours suggest that its recommendations would turn the Cabinet Office
into the Government’s chief implementation unit, effectively merging it
with the Prime Minister’s team at Downing Street, and giving Blair
greater control over the levers of power at Whitehall.
Peter Mandelson is tipped to be given a full Cabinet role as chief
Wilson refused to be drawn on the contents of the report when questioned
by Tuesday’s committee . ’We are doing more work on some aspects. It is
for the Prime Minister to decide what he wants to say and when.’