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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Will the spin 'outlast Campbell'?
Labour's culture of "deceit" will continue after press chief Alastair Campbell leaves, Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith writes in the Independent on Sunday.

Mr Campbell expects to leave in the next four to five weeks, at the same time as his partner Fiona Millar leaves her post as Downing St special advisor.

David Hill is to be Labour's next director of communications and is characterised as a more popular figure by commentators.

Will Campbell's departure have an impact on the Blair government? Is this the only government that 'spins' stories?


Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Spin and politics are inseparable but labour has given spin an unacceptable dimension. Will spin outlast Campbell? Definitely! Will labour outlast the next election? I hope not!
AT, UK

we are used to this culture of being lied to by this government
David Howe, UK
"Spin" is synonymous with New Labour just as "Sleaze" was synonymous with the Conservatives. The term "spin" means "lies" - we are used to this culture of being lied to by this government. We no longer trust them to tell us the truth - and even if they said the spin had stopped - how would we know? It might just be more spin.
David Howe, UK

The original New Labour spin doctor was not Campbell but Mandelson. Funnily enough look who's back to help reorganise the Downing Street Press team, none other than Mandelson. So will spin outlast Campbell - I think so!
John R Smith, UK

Blair will suffer greatly to the point of losing his job. Campbell will find a new private role as he has now marketed himself and his partner to the hilt at the expense of the labour government. Ultimately British politics would be in a better place without the likes of Blair or Campbell.
MS, London

In 1997 we thought things were about to change, there was a feeling all round that we were on the verge of something special. As a fresh faced 18 year old, I voted for the first time in a general election and I voted labour...then all the spin started...and now, well, I will never vote for them again. We have been to war for no reason, people have died on all sides for no reason, education is ruined, the NHS is on the verge of collapse. I am one of many jaded 25 years olds...well done Campbell and Blair...you have ruined a nation!
Helen Kreissl, UK

If he deceived anyone it was under orders
Matt, UK
Spin does mean presenting things in a positive light, which is something we all want to do ourselves. However it has come to mean telling half truths, announcing spending three or four times so that people think there is new resources, hiding disadvantageous policies and hoping no one notices (like tax increases). Remember Alistair Campbell worked for the Prime Minister. If he deceived anyone it was under orders, if he manipulated it was under orders. If he displeased his boss he could be fired. Don't blame the messenger.
Matt, UK

Let's dispense with this comfort word 'spin' (How many folk know its origins by the way?) we are dealing with Lies, Distortions and Propaganda. It is not new, it was not invented in the 1990s. It's what governments do all the time. Thank God we have a democracy, which allows Us to keep an eye on Them and raise a howl of protest when We catch Them out. It's one of the ways the democratic systems works.
Roger, UK

The comments made by Roger (UK) are quite true. However, the problem is that although we (apparently) live in a so called "democracy", "we" don't actually have any power over THEM at all. I can assure you that if there was any political party, or any person who was putting themselves up for election, who would actually genuinely change anything in this country, the powers that be, the unelected people who actually run this country, the hoards of people who sit in Whitehall every day planning the next phase of "control" would never allow them to be elected. We all sit around with the comfortable feeling that we can vote out any government that we don't like. What we forget is that we can only ever elect a similar government, doing the same stupid things. Its like the old slogan goes "if voting actually changed anything it would be made illegal".
Simon Moore, EU

I've just got around to reading the Have You Say on 'spin'& welcome Simon Moore's response, however in reply I would invoke Churchill's comment 'Democracy is a poor form of government but the alternatives are so much worse', so let's make the best of what we have got. If democracy did not change anything then why are we not still ruled by Devine Right of a King (OK that may be a slight naive but heck, it keeps the debate going!)
Roger, UK

I am amazed so many people seem to believe Alistair Campbell invented "spin", and that every previous Government were open, honest and even handed in the presentation of news. He had the highest profile of any previous incumbent from his days in Fleet St. That's what brought him to public attention in the first place. He was good at his job, but no more dishonest or honest than Bernhard Ingham, or any other predecessor in the role. Those who spout vitriol and conspiracy theories really should just grow up.
Peter, UK

Some of the comments here are amusing! Don't people realise that Campbell hasn't gone! Neither will he go. He has just gone underground. The lies will continue. Well said Richard Boesch, "Newspeak" is exactly what we are being fed "Truth is lies, lies is truth" I thank Campbell for one inescapable truth, at least, through him, we now know what we have always suspected, British politics are utterly and completely rotten to the very core
Danny, Southampton, UK

What culture of deceit? Labour present events in the best light for themselves - as do all public bodies.
Jackie Ryan, Britain

The new spin is already happening
Steve, UK
Campbell who? The new spin is already happening; the lead national news story is that the new person is giving up some share options. Obviously we're meant to be really impressed by him giving up so much for "public duty" spin, spin, spin, spin. Here we go again; bare-faced lies are so unattractive.
Steve, UK

Every government has to control the information it gives out to the public in order to prevent occasional panic and handle delicate behind-the-scenes negotiations. The fact that we are discussing the Gulf war now, in the same year, rather than in thirty years time surely does show that we have an open and honest government. Politics is sometimes necessarily an untidy business.
Steve, UK

It's not the spin, it's the web, of lies. It's not the spin, it the circular logic, of we had to attack them first because they were going to attack us first. Tops at spin. But the greatest spin of all is the truth, so with none of that left, well the spin just wound down.
Michael Harris, Cork, Ireland

Alastair Campbell has performed an excellent job managing a mostly hostile media. Those who ascribe this role to New Labour seem to have forgotten Bernard Ingham, who performed exactly the same role for Mrs Thatcher. It is more interesting to note that the BBC's antagonism to the current government is clearly indicated in the headlines and following paragraphs of this item. "A culture of deceit" - so very even handed. I doubt we will see an article on how the BBC "spins" stories, though anyone who listens to the "Today" program regularly knows it does. The BBC should not follow the transient hysteria in the popular press.
Geoff Batchelor, UK

Alastair Campbell will be missed, by Downing Street and the press, but most of all by the lack lustre Tory party, who blamed him for everything. Now of course the spotlight will again fall on them, especially now all the problems of Conservative privatisation are coming home to roost i.e power cuts and transport, both sold off by the Tories, both still costing the tax payer billions and no ordinary person ever benefited from their sell offs in the first place, yet we still are being forced to pay to keep fats cats richer.
Actually this government has been more "spun against than spun itself", Labour are not failing to deliver, in fact they are delivering on almost everything and education and health is in a far less parlous state than it was six years ago. This is why the Tories loved Campbell, they could conveniently keep pointing their finger at him yelling spin.
Lucy, UK

It's not for the press to complain about government spin. Modern-day British journalists spin along with everybody else.
Neil, UK

Sad to see such an able man leave Blair behind when the likes of Mr Prescott remain of dubious value to both party and country.
David, UK

As long as there are politicians, there will be spin.
Quentin Hawkins, UK

Campbell won't be gone, he'll just be under cover. This resignation is just more 'spin'. If you look closely at his parting comment, Campbell said he'll continue to help and advise anyone from the Labour party that asks his advice. Blair, for instance?
John Farmer, UK

Will Campbell's resignation make any difference? This government is so used to telling lies and failing to deliver on anything significant that removing the head is unlikely to stop the body continuing on for some time. How about a November general election so that Blair can ask the people for a vote of confidence?
Dave, UK

Spin's real name is PR or damage control. No major corporation or government can afford to be without it. The names may change, that's all. Marco Polo, Japan

Alastair Campbell is an irrelevance. The key point is that this government continues to fail to deliver. I don't know what it stands for, who it represents, or what it is trying to achieve. The war against Iraq was an oligarchical decision lacking any democratic credibility.
Michael Smith, UK

Good riddance but I doubt much will change
Richard Boesch, UK/Spain
I have always thought that spin had a disturbing similarity to 1984's "New Speak"; it also shows contempt for the democratic system and the electorate. Good riddance but I doubt much will change.
Richard Boesch, UK/Spain

Midway through his second term of office, I am no closer to knowing what Tony Blair (himself) really represents or believes in than I was in 1997. With most of the architects of the "project" gone, will the real Tony Blair now stand up??
Ken, UK

Alastair Campbell has succeeded in ensuring that the message of the Labour Party is heard and understood by the voters - and that is why Labour won two landslide victories with its commitment to combining social justice and economic prosperity. He will be greatly missed.
Paulinus Barnes, England

Don't worry Alastair, there will be still room for you at Turf Moor.
Corey Hodges, a fellow BFC fan, UK

Has he really resigned or is this just more spin? Seriously though, does this mean some honesty will now come out of this government? Of course it wont!!
Jerry, GB

Campbell's departure is probably the biggest blow of all to Tony Blair, who now looks almost totally isolated. I would not give much for the Prime Minister's chances of survival to Christmas. Gordon Brown (in the short term) and the Tories (in the longer term) will be rubbing their hands in delight.
David J, UK

This opens the way for the Government to change its communication strategy
Boyd Rodger, Oxfordshire, UK
Alastair Campbell's resignation is the reasonable outcome for such an influential, but unelected, official. This opens the way for the Government to change its communication strategy from synthetic spin, which was largely unappreciated, to the authentic openness Blair initially promised in 1997.
Boyd Rodger, Oxfordshire, UK

Could a UK bestseller on the behind the scenes life of a government worker be on the cards? Or am I too cynical?
Ben Christie, UK

I feel sorry for the amount of criticism people give this guy. For the last few years a lot of the media and public have unfairly blamed him for everything that's gone wrong. Give the guy a break. A highly intelligent and hardworking man is now leaving the side of the PM.
Jonathon Ellison, UK

Spin journalism was around well before Mr Campbell arrived
Paul Hyatt, UK
A pity to see him go. He could stand up to the destructive spin of the right wing press. Spin journalism was around well before Mr Campbell arrived and journalists just didn't like the idea that he could play them at their own game. Unfortunately his resignation probably shows that the press is as nasty and destructive as ever. Good luck Alastair.
Paul Hyatt, UK

I suppose this will pave the way for Mandelson's return, AGAIN!
Geoff Hirst, Scotland

Thank goodness and not a moment to soon. With a bit of luck his boss will follow - but we won't hold our breath!
NS, UK

As the saying goes "When you're being run out of town... try to get to the front of the crowd and make it look like a parade!" So much easier to go now than to wait for Lord Hutton's verdict... and watch out for those diaries in the Christmas bestsellers.
(Yours cynically) David, England

When the BBC announced his resignation, he accused them of creating stories from rumours. Yet it's true; another shadow of doubt cast on his 45 minute denial.
David Chard, UK

I have never bought the myth that Blair puts across of himself doing the Vicar of St Albion act upstairs while Campbell pursues his black arts in the bowels of Downing Street. Blair is down there in the gutter with Campbell. Good riddance to Campbell.
Stephen, England

One of the few who were prepared to stand up to the media hacks
TDK, UK
Sorry to see him go. One of the few who were prepared to stand up to the media hacks and be counted. The government will be the poorer for this decision.
TDK, UK

Good luck to him. Doubtless now we'll have all the crackpot theorists and conspiracists reading into his departure the behind-the-scenes reasons for his leaving. He has in fact been an outstanding example of how a political party has to defend itself against biased and offensive media attention. It's the press and television that are out of control, not New Labour. And I say that as being in no way a Labour supporter.
Alex, UK

The government will go on, but without one of its more able and more colourful contributors.
Barry, England

The problem was that Mr Campbell overreacted to the BBC reports and made a difficult situation worse. Even if the BBC didn't get it quite right did they touch a nerve?
Phil Aplin, UK

I fear UK politics will be boring without him.
Matt, UK

I feel many people got wrong idea about "spin". It is a necessary and fundamental skill of any politicians for centuries to give best presentation possible. Without this skill, they are unsuccessful as politicians! Campbell was too good at it until very recently.
Johnnie, UK

The resignation betrays a hidden guilt
Jamie K, UK
Campbell's resignation is indicative that the government has been weakened by its own Machiavellian behaviour, and that the realisation that the public are aware of something deeply inappropriate in its recent conduct. The position of the press has been strengthened as a result, and the respect towards the opinion of a questioning public somewhat restored. The resignation betrays a hidden guilt of something sinister which through his final act of diversion he hopes to blanket the exposure of. The sooner the resumption of normality and political efficiency, the better the chance the public will forgive, yet i believe the damage has already been done.
Jamie K, UK

Despite being one of the obvious fall guys to save Blair's neck, it is a good thing as he has operated by bullying and has had an unhealthy influence over the prime minister. However the crucial issue here is whether New Labour can now rid itself of this culture of spin and media manipulation and get back to cabinet government to address the UK's domestic problems it was elected to sort out. (Don't hold your breath!).
LH, UK

Alastair Campbell is a very talented and intelligent man, and the government has lost a capable ally. His job was no different from any advertising or creative director; to sell the product. However, unlike in advertising, where if people don't like the advert they just don't buy the product, in politics it seems they go further and actually vilify the product. Perhaps that's because there has been a tendency to see politics as a 'brand', and to market it as such. But politics speaks to a deeper level of people's beliefs than mere brand loyalties, and as such, Campbell was always on a hiding to nothing. He didn't fail, but he had an impossible job.
Rob, UK

Well he says he's resigning. Have we had this confirmed by more than one source?
Gareth, UK

I hope we see some elements of honesty from now on
Paul Pearce, Ipswich, UK
Alastair Campbell has always been put forward as chief of the Labour manure production and regurgitation factory. It will be interesting to see whether there is any change in Labour's style of twisting, manipulating and lying. For example, is there anyone out there who believes this week's asylum figures? I hope we see some elements of honesty from now on... maybe that's stretching it but at least let us have less manure than we have been fed for the last eight odd years.
Paul Pearce, Ipswich, UK

Campbell may be spinning out of Downing St but the twister created by his actions still needs to be dealt with. The public should not lose focus on the issue at hand, the Hutton enquiry, from which we still need answers. The dust has not settled yet.
Ian, UK

What a shame an intelligent man like that has to go. I thought he was brilliant at his job. Spin was invented by the media, if you believe that nobody but the government has "spin" you really shouldn't be interested in politics. I hope he and his family have a very happy and peaceful life.
Heather, London, England

Campbell has played a huge role in the success of new labour and both the party and in particular the prime minister will miss his loyal and honest support, he will be difficult to replace. The already difficult task that new labour set itself in modernising the country's infrastructure and institutions will be all the more difficult without him. I wish him luck in whatever he decides to do next.
Tim Willis, UK

I think he would make an excellent prime minister
Richard, UK
Although I find Mr Campbell's role within the government deeply dubious, I can't help but admire his style when faced with harsh questioning from the media. I think he would make an excellent prime minister for this country.
Richard, UK

We don't need a "director of communications" in Downing Street. The sun will rise each morning, just the same.
Ron Williams, USA (UK expat)

Not a day too soon. But I presume that there will be no change of attitude in government - just another face in the same job. His own demise was inevitable when he started to be the news rather than just manipulating it. His best epitaph would be that no-one at all buys his memoirs, so he doesn't get rich out of trying to treat the public as chumps.
Jack, England

About time too. This arrogant man clearly thought he was above criticism. Hopefully he will soon be followed into retirement by the man whose skin he is meant to be saving.
Jon Tennison, England

I can't wait 'til his diary is published!
James Smith, UK
Campbell played a massive role in making New Labour electable, but his style was inappropriate in government and interfered with the idea of cabinet government. I can't wait 'til his diary is published!
James Smith, UK

Now we will get a clearer picture of Campbell's role within Blair's government... will Blair gain credibility now, or will he perform less well without Campbell constantly at his side? Can we take the resignation as capitulation by Number 10 in the Kelly affair?
Chris, UK

You can't blame him for choosing to leave - if it was a choice - perhaps this announcement will take the heat of his beleaguered boss for the time being? A final act of loyalty?
John, UK

I think it's a great shame. He's done a fine job and I think he will be missed. He was well respected with the government. All the spin has skewed people's opinions.
Ian Ben, England

Why not just promote one of the civil servants in the No 10 press office?
RK, UK
When Mr Blair appointed Alastair Campbell he made two big changes from normal practice: He appointed someone from within the Labour Party machine, and he gave that person the right to give orders to civil servants. I hope that he does not make these mistakes again. Sadly, if reports that Dave Hill has been lined up to replace Campbell are true, we will be open to charges of cronyism again. Why not just promote (Hutton permitting) one of the Civil Servants in the No 10 press office?
RK, UK

I suspect the reason he had to resign has more to do with his public displays over the last few months, rather than the actual handling of the dossier. In politics, you've got to have self-control.
Gabor, UK

This was a foregone conclusion. Tony Blair's government would not stand an iota of a chance while this man remained in his position. Strange the announcement was made the very next day after Tony Blair gave his 'performance' at the Hutton inquiry. I am deeply suspicious of every move made within government these days.
sue, England

Did he say he was able to resign in 45 minutes?
John McLean, Switzerland

He will not be missed
Kingsley, UK
This is a great result for British democracy. The man has been the driving force behind the government's spin-over-substance agenda. He will not be missed.
Kingsley, UK

This was always on the cards and has clearly been done to save his boss's skin. He said in interviews before the Iraq war that he intended to consider his future, so this should come as no surprise whatsoever.
Kevin, Scotland

I doubt if anybody will shed a tear for this extraordinary man. His spin strategy put even '80s Russia to shame. Goodbye, Campbell and hope we never hear from you again!
Prasad, UK





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