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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
The nature of the beast
Spin doctor Jo Moore with her boss Stephen Byers
Jo Moore - breathtakingly inappropriate language
Nick Assinder

New Labour spin doctor Jo Moore presented a public image that was heartless, calculating and cynical.

And she compounded her offence by breaking the first law of politics - she put her advice to ministers in writing and got caught.

In an astonishingly inept piece of spin doctory, she told her boss and others that the attacks on New York and Washington could provide the ideal cover to "bury" unpopular announcements.

Her language was breathtakingly inappropriate.

Her brutal and insensitive memo has now been revealed - presumably by one of her many enemies within the government machine - and the damage to her position is enormous.

New Labour's most controversial spin doctors, Charlie Whelan and Peter Mandelson are no longer in the party's frontline, but Ms Moore has been pitched into the spotlight to recall the bad old days.

Whiter than white

And never again will the New Labour machine be able to point at the media and accuse it of being cynical.

A large piece of this "whiter than white" plaster has been stripped away for good.

Downing Street's reaction when the story broke did little to help things.

Ms Moore had apologised but was not being sacked because both Stephen Byers and the prime minister valued her skills, a spokesman said.

And, for many, that said it all.

But it is deeply unfair to heap all the blame for this atrocity onto Ms Moore.

Political role

She is, after all, one of arch spin doctor Peter Mandelson's students.

He nurtured her during their time in Labour's communications bunker in Millbank Tower a decade ago, and he has always kept a watchful eye on her career.

Like many a New Labour apparatchik before her, she is now a civil servant whose salary is paid by the taxpayer, and her role is one hundred per cent political.

By issuing her memo she was simply doing her job.

She was doing it badly and she has embarrassed her masters as a result - but those who are now punishing her know where the real sin lies.

See also:

09 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Aide apologises for 'attacks memo'
13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Spinning out of control
13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Government advisers under fire
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