Archive for May, 2010

Translation of last Thursday’s Golwg Column: The old doctor spin at work

Sometimes it is difficult to believe what one sees and hears. Often one needs someone else as a second opinion.

It’s the same in the political world. Someone in all the parties is ever ready with an explanation of what you’ve heard or witnessed. But the difference in the world of politics is that you get the ‘help’ even if you ask for it or not. There is a name for these characters – the spin doctors.

In an election these ‘doctors’ are essential to the campaign. Before the start of any speech someone will persuade you that it will break new ground and it is going to be very important and it will be to your advantage to be there.

After the speech there will be an interpretation of what you have just heard, to help you read between the lines. Indeed after they have done their work you might well believe that black is white.

The new situation in the race to number 10 is a good example of the world of the spin doctors. In the opinion polls the contest is shaping up to be a genuine three party race. Three parties that are very close to each other in public support. So who wins each debate and who slips up becomes all important. Your party must gain the advantage.

Labour spin maintaining that Brown is the only man of substance, the only one you can imagine as prime minister. The only one that can steer us safely through the economic crisis.

The Liberal Democrat spin says that we must move away from the old parties that have ruled us to a newer, different and honest party. Despite us all knowing that their party is an old party that has been around since the 18th century.

And the Conservatives saying that without a clear majority for a party[ sub text - 'theirs'], the country will face an economic crisis and the IMF will have to intervene and rescue the country’s economy.

There is no doubt that the surge of support for Nick Clegg after the first television debate shook the two larger parties. Especially the Conservatives. They thought that the election was in the bag and that Cameron was on his way to number 10. Nobody had bothered asking the question how a party that was at one time 18 points in the lead and slipped down to single figures.

Be that as it may, what had rocked the Conservatives was seeing the Lib Dems getting so much support and some polls even indicating that they had overtaken the Conservatives.

The question they faced was how to deal with ‘Cleggmania’. Naturally team Cameron turn to the spin doctors. How would they deal with Clegg? Their answer, to call in the correspondents of Tory supporting papers. The purpose? To give them all the gossip they had on Nick Clegg and his party.

It was no accident that the Daily Telegraph had a front page story on Nick Clegg’s expenses, and that on the very same day the Daily Mail accused Clegg of a Nazi slurr on Britain. No, not an accident at all but the work of the spin doctors.

Indeed another spin doctor from Labour, our old friend Lord Mandleson, maintained that it was straight from the dirty handbook of the Tory party. But this too was spin. It was to show Mr Cameron in a bad light and give Labour the moral high ground.

So be careful about what you read and believe, just in case that old Doctor Spin has been at his work.