26 September 2009

Methinks Labour doth protest/spin too much

One of the lead stories the BBC website today caught my eye as a an extraordinarily orchestrated effort to avoid all the talk of getting rid of Gordon Brown that preceded last year's party conference.

It summarises what cabinet ministers (and one former cabinet minister) have been saying to various newspapers on the eve of the last Labour Party Conference before the general election - and depicts a level of unity that, to say the least, smacks of being rather too good to be true.

Here’s how the story starts, followed by a selection of fan/spin messages from Mr Brown’s colleagues (full post can be seen HERE):

Ministers back PM pre-conference
Cabinet ministers are falling in behind Gordon Brown as he prepares to issue a rallying cry at Labour's last party conference before the general election.

Schools Secretary
Ed Balls said the prime minister's "authentic" approach would find favour with voters.

The Energy Secretary
Ed Miliband said Mr Brown was "the right leader".

International Development Secretary
Douglas Alexanderr said Mr Brown had "nothing to fear" from a TV debate between the party leaders.

Mr Miliband said Mr Brown had "bags" of resilience to take into the next election.
He told the Daily Telegraph: "I think we've got the right leader in Gordon. He's the man who stopped us going from recession to depression in Britain and around the world."

Mr Balls - regarded by most as the prime minister's closest ally - insisted there was "all to play for" in the next election as he geared up for the conference which begins on Sunday in Brighton.
He said the party needed "more fighters, not quitters".

Mr Balls told the Guardian the prime minister should not worry about lacking "razzmatazz". "Gordon is who he is. Gordon is at his strongest when he is being authentic," he said.

Mr Alexander suggested any televised debate could be part of a series between Labour heavyweights and their opposite numbers ahead of the next general election.

'Game on'
"I don't think Gordon has anything to fear from a TV debate,"
Mr Alexander, who is also Labour's election co-ordinator, told the Daily Mirror. "I hope this campaign provides the opportunity for serious debates at every level of the party.

He said the conference would demonstrate that "it's not game over, it's game on".

According to the BBC report, the only leading Labour politician who’s ‘off-message’ is John Prescott:

'Meanwhile, ex-deputy PM John Prescott has accused Labour MPs of defeatism. He told the Independent there was "something lacking" at the top of the party and no direction in campaigning, adding: "We are drifting"… in his interview, Mr Prescott suggested there was a lack of talent and experience among the party's team of advisers. He said: "Those who have responsibility for campaigning - it is not reaching out to the depths of the party. "We've got a whole bank of MPs, but everybody seems despondent. There's too much defeatist thinking. There's no central direction to campaigning."

Reading posts like this makes you wonder how the BBC website goes about compiling such material. Does a reporter, spend an hour or two reading today's newspapers and then cobble together a 'detached' summary on his/her own initiative?

Or does some Labour Party spin doctor prompt them into doing it?

Whatever the answer, it gives the party with a great deal more coverage than appeared on the same website one day last week during the Liberal Democrat conference (i.e. none) - which also makes you wonder just how 'impartial' the BBC really is.

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