Thursday 4 September 2003

Whitewash Will Change Nothing

by Paul Routledge

TONY Blair switched the Downing Street media machine from spin cycle to whitewash yesterday.

Out goes the manipulation of information to make the government look better than it is.

In comes a new age of telling it like it is. On the whole. Generally speaking. And so long as it fits the purpose of the day.

In a publicity fanfare worthy of Peter Mandelson (indeed, probably choreographed by him), New Labour promised to separate fact from fiction.

Now that the waves of horse laughter at Westminster have died down, we can examine this apparent change of heart by a government which has been addicted to spin for more than six years.

Any move to make government information more credible must be welcome. But will the new broom sweep as clean as it should?

David "over the" Hill, the latest media supremo in Number Ten, will not be another Alastair Campbell. Hard to see how he could be. They don't make them like that any more.

But his job will remain the same. To project Tony Blair's image in the best possible light, whether the Prime Minister is inventing weapons of mass destruction or defending the right of his wife to raid the family's so-called "blind trust" to buy £330,000-worth of flats in Bristol. The overhaul of the goverment's information machine was initiated by Blair.

This was chiefly because mounting public mistrust and dislike of spin was undermining New Labour's standing in the polls.

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