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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
How damaging are the leaks?
Leaked memos
The UK chancellor insists the leak is of little real significance
The UK Government has been exposed by another leak - a confidential memo in which the government is labelled "out of touch" by one of the prime minister's closest advisers.

The document - a memo from Tony Blair's private pollster - also warns that Labour's majority could be slashed at the next election, and that the "New Labour" brand is badly contaminated.

Chancellor Gordon Brown insists it is of little real significance. But the Tories, who deny any involvement in the disclosures, say the memo shows signs of panic in the government.

Are these leaked memos damaging the Labour Party's image beyond repair? Or does it show that government can recognise its shortcomings? Do people care about these revelations? Tell us what you think. HAVE YOUR SAY

What the public wants off politicians is honesty

Gavin Pearson, USA
What the public wants off politicians is honesty, so they can vote in whoever meets their personal priorities best. What they find in a leak is evidence of misrepresentation by these politicians in order to get elected. Hence leaks allow the public to make a better judgement on who to re-elect next time. Given the contradictory nature between the spin and the content of the recent leaks I wholeheartedly think that this is excellent for democracy.
Gavin Pearson, USA

So, Tony Blair attacks the media for reporting "trivial information". Is this the same Tony Blair who commented on heavyweight political issues such as "The Free Deirdre Rachid" campaign??
Carl Minns, England

One more leak like these just before the election, and it's bye bye Tony.
Brian, Britain

Crime has improved under Labour. In fact in Hackney crime has improved by 54% in the past year. The only problem is, the only improvement appears to be in the figures being quoted. Crime has risen and so has tax.
Danny Prince, UK

In direct answer to the question, fatal, I hope. (Politically speaking of course.)
Mark Gurney, UK


These leaks just bring to light that Tony Blair and his party have done nothing for this country

William Dryden, UK
These leaks just bring to light that Tony Blair and his party have done nothing for this country besides trying to sell Britain out to Europe. Labour have done nothing for education, except increase class size for every one bar 4 and 5 year olds. They double the student loans needed to get through higher education, crime has gone up, instead of one waiting list in the NHS we now have a waiting list to get on the waiting list. Just to cap things off the most highly paid cabinet we have every had, and what have they done for this money - nothing.
William Dryden, UK

These "leaks" are just a clear form for SPIN. Now you all feel sorry for poor old Tony. Further, he (poor old Tony) creates the impression, he knows, he is out of touch and that he cares...Please! All he cares about, is re-election.
Ian, UK

Labour's image is already tarnished. All these memos show is an interesting insight into Blair's thought processes. The only sensitivity they have towards the people of this country is in securing their vote and 'gaining their place in history'. The media, by effectively performing the role of the Opposition, have truly rattled Labour's cage. If this rids the Government of their complacency and encourages them to do the job they were elected to do, then some good may come from it.
Paul R, UK


I wouldn't be surprised if the whole leak thing was not a perverse plot by Tony himself to show to the electorate that they are 'concerned' about what people think

Mark, Germany
Give us a break. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole leak thing was not a perverse plot by Tony himself to show to the electorate that they are 'concerned' about what people think. A sort of political public enquiry. Tony has thought, I know lets make it look like we've lot the plot and now we are going to bow to the will of the people showing how flexible we are just in time for the next election. Nice try Tony but the results of our expensive and semi-anarchic society has shown that a firmer grip on the reins of power are needed and governments should exercise this power frequently rather produce boring propaganda and drivel.
Mark, Germany

Leaks, Scandel, Moles, Spin. All seem a little dubious to me. Sounds like Labour are cashing in on the idea people like to gossip. It seems Labour are trying to get a point across and can't think of any better way of doing it. The way it happens is, 1. Memo leaked. 2. Problem established. 3. Labour acknowledges problem. 4. Labour highlight plans to sort problem. It's all very high profile it's in all the papers; it's scandal and its boring!
Matt Ward, England

At the next election people will decide who wins on the issues of the NHS, schools, crime and the economy all of which have improved under Labour that's why they'll win and why leaked memos are blown up by the right-wing it's all they have!
Kevin Larkin, UK


No one with his head screwed on can blame the press for being interested in a scoop like this

Nigel, England
It's unprofessional for the civil service to leak, but no one with his head screwed on can blame the press for being interested in a scoop like this. It shows us what top ministers really care about - and it's frightening. Few people are interested in the Labour Party per se, and how it looks, but it's depressing to see serious issues treated as if they only mattered as part of some political beauty contest.
Nigel, England

Oh dear, poor old Tony. I do feel for him. It must be quite a shock to wake up from dreamland to find your beautifully crafted image is slipping. He is suffering because of lack of conviction in what he wants to achieve and we the public have been suffering for much the same reason. Time to step down Tony and let Gordon Brown lead the way - at least he seems to care about more than just image and public opinion.
Kevin, UK

The reality is that we have a government that has done nothing for "the many" in this country - and in fact has substantially reduced the quality of life for the majority of ordinary families - after winning an election under false pretences. These leaks only serve to confirm what many people feel - that the "social experiment" hasn't worked and it's time to re-join the real world!
Allen, UK


These leaks paint a quite refreshing picture of a government that recognises its failings.

Dip Chaks, USA
Since every government that I can remember has buried its head in the sand, these leaks paint a quite refreshing picture of one that recognises its failings. However, Blair's administration does need to concentrate far more on actively pursuing the policy objectives it was elected to undertake, and far less on polishing its image.
Dip Chaks, USA

It should be remembered that however bad New Labour seem to be at the moment the Conservatives would just be 10 times worse...
Hel, England

Personally I feel the government is doing a job, and that the recent leaks from the government offices have been blown out of all proportion by a very bored press and an unsteady opposition.
Nigel, UK

This just goes to show that the government themselves are starting to realise what the British people have known for some time, that they are out of touch, and don't deserve to win the next General Election.
Simon Carey, UK

This sounds like typical mid-term blues for Tony Blair and New Labour. Every government, between elections sees a trough in its standing with the electorate and this government is no exception. Blair should be concerned about finding the source of the leaks and putting an end to them; they are damaging to his government.
Jeff, USA

Any government based along party lines forms a club mentality that often become detached from its voters. Leaks play an important role in controlling the build up of a strong uncontrollable government.
Krishan Canagasabey, Ceylon

I remember the last Conservative government and what they did to this country. Sorry Mr Hague but you're going to be second again!
Peter Wilson, UK

Bill Clinton furnished Mr. Blair with the secret for getting elected, and it worked. Unlike the American public, Brits are not quite so gullible when it comes to politicians, and have already seen through the Blair spin machine. And too, the British news media is not in lock step with the government. Here, the news media serves as the Clinton administration's Ministry of Propaganda, and the public has up to now believed it.
Jim, USA


The amount of "spin" being put on these documents is breathtaking

Paul Sceeny, UK
The totally disproproportionate amount of attention these leaks are getting serves only to show the media's complete obsession with itself. On the day after the Chancellor announces unprecedented amounts of new money for rebuilding our country's infrastructure, why are the press instead fixated on a couple of private memos written over two months ago? One minute the Government is being accused of complacency and arrogance, the next it's being "damaged" by frank discussions about its potential vulnerabilities coming to light. The amount of "spin" being put on these documents is breathtaking, and I'm sure most people are far more interested in looking at what the Government is actually doing!
Paul Sceeny, UK

I think that the Government, because of these leaks, appears to be far too image conscious. It's the first government I can remember which has, as a number one concern, re-election as the core of its policies, as opposed to a government more focused on what is best for the country.
Barry Sewell, UK

Caring? What this episode proves is that the only thing New Labour cares about is how to cling to power at any cost. Blair is finally revealed for what he truly is. A major-league chancer!
Stuart Morrison, Scotland

Much of the trouble in the Government stems from the fundamental split in the New Labour project. What we are seeing is a battle between those who want to favour the "Labour Heartlands" and those who want to continue with the New Labour coalition. This division was suppressed in an effort to end 18 years in opposition, now the battle lines are being redrawn. The Government is more and more resorting to gesture policies in an effort to appease the wings of the party.
John W, Holland

The fact that the Labour Government in Britain has recognised that sensitive documents have been leaked is a positive sign. It just shows how the Blair Government has the courage to readily accept its failures. However, it is a sad reflection that the leaks have been rather too many in the recent past. Having admitted its shortcomings, the Government will do well to ensure vital documents of national importance are not leaked again as otherwise the electorate will simply lose faith in the already "out of touch" Labour Government. And the Tories who are waiting in the wings will exploit the situation to their advantage and stage a comeback.
Albert Devakaram, India

Potentially damaging leaks, like these, seem to have brought out public sympathy. Are we once more the victims of spin?
Paul, UK

I like this government a lot more than the last and I think they are doing a great job. Are some of your other contributors living in the same country? Don't they think for a moment about what it would be like under the Tories! You think it's bad now? Wait until you see what they would do. The concerted right wing press effort seems to be having the desired affect. If "spin" and vague references to the level of tax are all you can find to complain about then I think the country must be exceptionally well run.
Robert, UK


I think the sensible people of Britain will decide, and put the memos in the bin

Martin Harry, Wales
I think that we should be thinking about the cash windfalls announced yesterday that will help the health service, fight crime and education, instead of these memos. What is more important, stability in the economy, unemployment falling, more doctors and nurses, inflation the lowest in Europe, interest rates at an all time low, or these silly memos. I think the sensible people of Britain will decide, and put the memos in the bin.
Martin Harry, Wales

Journalists desperately trying to fashion significant news out of nothing much. Its what they get paid for.
Dave, England

This is just another example of the orchestrated press campaign now being waged against Tony Blair and his government. Most of the newspapers are running pro-Tory/anti-Labour stories as a matter of course on a daily basis, designed to bring about a change in public opinion and a change in Government. With these right leaning, foreign owned press allowing Tory moles to set the news agenda, I see the future for the Labour government and the future for this country is bleak.
Tim Dilks, England

This is what I make of a "leaked memo": A process where a top political figure writes a dull internal memo, stamps "Top Secret" on it and then accidentally faxes it to the media. The media who for some reason still use the equation leaked memo = more sales jump into action and try to make the dull internal memo the most interesting political story of the century to spoon feed Jo Public with.
Michael, United Kingdom


I think that there is no problem with a leaky government, so long as the "leaks" are not damaging to a nation itself

Jeremy DeWaal, United States
I think that there is no problem with a leaky government, so long as the "leaks" are not damaging to a nation itself. Britain hasn't been hurt by this leak, it has been shown truth. The Labour party hasn't been defaced, it has been unmasked. This "leak" has torn down their facade, and exposed their attempt to hide their inability to govern. I think that the British needn't worry about a leaky government in any case.
Jeremy DeWaal, United States

Its time Tony Blair stopped worrying about being a victim and how he is perceived and rolled his sleeves up and started sorting out the health service, crime and education. Nobody ever said being Prime Minister was easy.
Andrew, England

It seems this government can't win with some people. Any attempt to explain policy or to foster debate is denigrated as 'spin', and any attempt to find out what the public wants from government is criticised as policy by focus-group. I for one want to hear what they have to say, and I am happy that they employ professional methods to get their message across. The false sophistication and cynicism of the (largely right wing) press is sickening but most people see it for what it is - shallow hackery.
David Baird, Scotland


The words "chicken", "home" and "roost" spring to mind!

Stephen, UK
I agree with the comments suggesting the leak may in fact just be more spin: an attempt to make themselves look in touch with their unpopularity even at the risk of appearing vaguely silly. Part of the trouble is that they have used up their stock of goodwill when it comes to "informing" the public, and since most of the impartial civil servants who used to do this job have either left or been sacked the government has no recourse to an objective information system. The words "chicken", "home" and "roost" spring to mind!
Stephen, UK

I have to confess that I believe these leaks to be orchestrated by the Labour Party in an acknowledgement that it has understood that it's adrift with public thought, or is it that the public was adrift with the Labour Party manifesto. Were we not told, at the beginning, that there would be tough choices to be made both economically and socially? Now that we're in a position of strength with regard to the economy (backed up by the Editor of the FT in last nights Newsnight) the government can now start to invest in a sustainable way. I think we need to focus on the facts rather than the spin produced by both the media and all the political parties.
Warren Buckley, United Kingdom


The leaks only show that this Government actually cares what people think about it

Riad Mannan, UK
The leaks only show that this Government actually cares what people think about it. This is a good thing. It shows their concern that even though the policies are being put through, the perception of the Government might be negative. If Labour tries to change that perception, the Tories call it spin. It's not spin - it's just good PR management.
Riad Mannan, UK

How sad that this reforming Government should be damaged by leaks and tabloid stupidity. It seems too convenient that this leak occurred on the day of the news of Gordon Brown's 43 billion spending. Perhaps the "forces of conservatism" are closer to the Prime Minister than he thinks.
Francis Murphy, UK

There's always talk of open government. These leaks are the only information the public gets without a spin-doctor in the way. Let's have more of them!
Andrew Dowle, UK

The leaks are causing terrible damage to the government. Not because there have been leaks but because they show that Labour have no concern for the people of this country. They want to throw us a few scraps to keeps us happy then once the opinion polls look better they can start on their directionless course again. I hated Thatcher but at least she stuck to what she believed in. Tony Blair's view on things changes hourly, and of course he never sticks to anything he says anyway. The sooner he has left number 10 the better.
Steve McCoull, England

The leaks should not occur since no organisation can proceed efficiently if it is constantly undermined by revelation of its internal workings. What bothers me more is that this will make it even more difficult to express frank honest views within government without fear of being set upon by a media who whilst moaning about "spin", are keen to pounce "Newsnight" style on any chink in the consistency of Government policy.
Mark, GB

I think we are seeing the Government's spin machine working overtime. Comments such as "I don't see why the British public don't see me as a family man" aren't leaks but carefully crafted PR releases to show how "kind, compassionate and human" Tony Blair is. I'll never cease to be amazed as to what lengths this Government will go to gain popularity.
Dave Massingham, UK

The government hasn't got a clue how to run the country. I'm surprised it's taken so long for the masses to realise it and that a leak admitting they're clueless is seen as so important.
Willy Davidson, UK


I remember the Thatcher days up here in the Tory outlands and all I can say is LEAK AWAY...

Ruaridh Shuttleworth, Scotland
Low inflation, unemployment moving towards under 1,000,000, stable economy, under 5's going to free pre school, A Scottish parliament at last. You can tell me it's not perfect and I'd agree but then I remember the Thatcher days up here in the Tory outlands and all I can say is LEAK AWAY...
Ruaridh Shuttleworth, Scotland

I am delighted to see Labour's attempts at social engineering beginning to flounder. When will the people of this country realise that good government is less government?
David Hill, UK

The "government" has yet to listen to any indication of what the public actually wants. I can't see much changing because a minister has noticed they aren't listening.
John B, UK

All 'businesses' whether private or public have occasional embarrassing leaks. All that has happened is that the technology has moved on from photocopies of paper memos to emails.
Keith Lomax, UK


Labour's credibility is slipping and that's evident. The message must be levelled with action

Peter, England
Leaks are a part of the political merry-go-round. What is interesting is that this Government is learning a simple lesson. If you raise expectations in terms of promises and then don't deliver in a practical and tangible way so that citizens 'feel' change you will be punished. What this Government must realise is that if it takes three years or more to produce a pot of jam for today then be honest about it at the outset. Labour's credibility is slipping and that's evident. The message must be levelled with action.
Peter, England

Leaks? There was me thinking that Open Government was starting to have some effect.
Jason, Scotland

The UK Labour Party is so keen to change the British culture that it fails to recognise that most people want the Monarchy, they want lower taxes, and don't want a "Nanny State". The memos show how out of touch with the real UK the Government really is.
John Atkins, Singapore

This government is clearly spinning out of control. Only yesterday, Gordon Brown stood in the Commons and announced to the world, albeit inadvertently, that the government was to spend 43bn to "underspin" the economy. Spin clearly pervades the thought processes of all government ministers.
Gary Winch, England


They talk plenty, do little and rob us blind!

Dave, UK
They should quite rightly be worried. Their analysts are recognising what the public realised within 18 months of Labour coming to power. They talk plenty, do little and rob us blind!
Dave, UK

The leaked memos only tell us what we already know.
Dr. S, UK

Image is the only thing that the vacuous TB cares about. You needn't look any further for the source of New Labour's woes.
Leighton Arnold, USA

The simple fact of the matter is that Blair got too much, too early. He does not realise that a majority like the one Labour has now, does not come along too often. Instead of biting the bullet and DOING things, this Government is acting like it has the slimmest majority and seems only concerned with image. They are still employing the same principles of media management, which got them into power.
Kevin, UK

The leaks themselves are in all probability another ploy by a Government trying to buy time before the next election. They have realised that people are ceasing to be taken in by the web of lies and deceit they like to call spin. Blair's administration is totally focused on one thing and that is not running the UK to its best advantage, it is getting elected again. They are deceitful, out-of-touch opportunists with no philosophical or moral substance.
Keith Stuart, England

I suppose we must be grateful that the Government is, at least, seeming to recognise its shortcomings in this way. However, the biggest concern is that, once again, the perceived solution from TB and his team is to lavish more spin and image upon the problem.
Adrian White, England


If anyone thinks Labour is "leaky" they must be daft

Bill Elgie, England
If anyone thinks Labour is "leaky" they must be daft. The "leaks" are nothing of the sort. They are specially placed pieces of information. Instead of standing up and saying the things, Number 10 are putting them out in this way to try and get them believed. It's just another spin. They must think we're all simple. What a shower!
Bill Elgie, England

The worst thing about this is not the way the Labour party try to diffuse revelations that they are obsessed with spin by spinning their way out of it, e.g. "What Tony is really saying...What Phil really meant...", but the fact that they are blaming the Tories! After three years in power they still blame the Tories for every governmental problem they come up against, and now they're blaming the Tories for their own memos. And they wonder where they've gone wrong?
Paul B, UK

These reports are highly embarrassing for Tony Blair because they are basically admitting that the whole New Labour "project" was always more about getting elected than making a positive change for the country. They have failed to act with conviction, relying solely on public opinion polls.
Ed, England


I feel that they are trying and are aware of their shortcomings and are prepared to do something about them. How refreshing!

Naomi, UK
I feel that this 'leak' could work in their favour. Personally I feel that they are trying and are aware of their shortcomings and are prepared to do something about them. How refreshing!
Naomi, UK

This is the start of the usual political propaganda which starts around this time prior to an election - it is hype fuelled by the opposition and the media - It's a bit reminiscent of the good ol' Tory sleaze.... Best thing to do is ignore it.
K Jones, UK

"We lack politicians genuinely in tune with the people." Labour selected MP's for political correctness (women only lists, black only lists) or because Central Office told them to, and not by merit or will of the masses. This is why Labour is out of touch, because it chose to be.
Philip - London, England


Sounds like a bored press to me - no serious disasters to report, so they get hysterical.

Owen Wheatley, England
The economy is doing very well, the Chancellor just "spent" 43 billion and the City just smiled genially, our reputation overseas (even despite the football) is very high. Perhaps the only gripe of substance is the lack of a lead on Europe. The charges against the Government appear to be "control freakery" (could someone explain exactly what this is and why we should sack the government because of it?) and that a sixteen year old boy got drunk after his exams. Hmm. Sounds like a bored press to me - no serious disasters to report, so they get hysterical. Only serious complaint I've got with the Government at present is the lack of a serious debate on Europe.
Owen Wheatley, England

It is all probably a PR stunt where the PM makes out that he is a victim so that people feel sorry for him. I will not wait patiently for actual changes where the people are demanding change - fox hunting, petrol prices, crime, NHS, immigrants etc.
Dom, UK


What these various leaks show is this government is more concerned about how it is perceived than whether it is following the right policies.

James, UK
What these various leaks show is this government is more concerned about how it is perceived than whether it is following the right policies. Tony Blair seems to have spent his entire term as Prime Minister worrying about being re-elected and not running the country. Taxpayers money has been used to turn the civil service into a propaganda machine for 'New Labour'. This has to be wrong.
James, UK

Any government that is able to identify its own failures or shortcomings and is prepared to do something about it in a constructive fashion must be a good and as such a very rare government. Those who have leaked such confidential correspondence have certainly scored an own goal by doing it.
Miklos Nomad, Hungary

Blair's disbelief at his level of unpopularity emphasises how out of touch he is with the electorate. He refuses to believe that any opinion other than his own bears any weight. Now he has been betrayed, perhaps his increasingly manic expression will become even more wild and disbelieving.
Steve Cahill, England


I am very pleased that this Government is sensitive to the wishes of the people

John Davidson, Wales
I am very pleased that this Government is sensitive to the wishes of the people. However, it is not possible for them to make difficult decisions in an environment of irresponsible leaks.
John Davidson, Wales

This Government appears to be floundering in its own errors. It is no better or worse than any government we have had in the last 30 years
Mark Hill, UK

In some ways if they're seen to panic it shows that they care, something not every government does or has done. Speaking for myself, it's made me think a bit better of them!
Kate, England

Since every government that I can remember has buried its head in the sand, these leaks paint a quite refreshing picture of one that recognises its failings. However, Blair's administration does need to concentrate far more on actively pursuing the policy objectives it was elected to undertake, and far less on polishing its image.
Russell Jones, UK


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See also:

19 Jul 00 | UK Politics
New memo leak hits Blair
19 Jul 00 | UK Politics
What did the leaked memo say?
19 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Labour's leaks: A recent history
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