DIARY: Panorama guest list may need doctoring if it wants to achieve credibility

BBC publicity chiefs must be rubbing their hands at the advance coverage of Monday’s Panorama on spin doctors, particularly following the Sunday Times’ tantrum from Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s media man, over the programme.

BBC publicity chiefs must be rubbing their hands at the advance coverage

of Monday’s Panorama on spin doctors, particularly following the Sunday

Times’ tantrum from Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s media man, over the

programme.



However, it remains to be seen whether Panorama can come up with the

goods in the face of what appears to be a less than positive attitude

from the two main parties.



Sheila Gunn, head of press relations for the Conservative Party, says:

‘It’s an inconvenience for us having them around. We would really rather

they went away. Our policy has been one of passive resistance and those

of us who seem to be doomed to be called spin doctors certainly aren’t

planning to give any on-camera interviews.’



Meanwhile, Labour will go no further than to confirm its awareness of

the programme’s existence, although, before Campbell’s outburst about

‘hatchet jobs’ it was rumoured to have refused all co-operation with the

production team.



Other likely suspects also seem to have had no involvement. Former Tory

director of communications Hugh Colver has not been interviewed, nor

Bernard Ingham or political PR guru Harvey Thomas. Sir Bernard says:

‘Perhaps they will be showing a blank screen for an hour.’



So how will Panorama reveal ‘the spin doctors’ tricks of the trade’, as

its pre-publicity suggests?



Alison Jackson, publicity officer for BBC News, denies the possibility

of a blank screen, saying: ‘I don’t yet know who’ll be on but we are

still in discussion with a number of people.’



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