Political managers: Spinning almost out of control - As the number of spin doctors and the column inches they occupy increase daily, isn't it time we returned to old-fashioned, plain- speaking politics?

Political managers: Spinning almost out of control - As the number of spin doctors and the column inches they occupy increase daily, isn't it time we returned to old-fashioned, plain- speaking politics? - January was a month to forget for the present Gove

by MICHAEL HESELTINE

January was a month to forget for the present Government. Day after day the fallibility of government screamed from every headline as crisis after crisis subjected ministers to the intense exposure that follows when things go wrong. 'Nothing new' could be the immediate comment but that, in itself, is precisely the story.

An army of politically motivated researchers and assistants has been recruited by the Government to control politicisation of Whitehall and the spinning of news on a scale never attempted before. It doesn't work.

When the heat is on, Fleet Street cuts a swathe through the smooth-talkers who now peddle the latest soundbite distributed over their electronic bleepers from some mastermind in Number 10 or party headquarters. In truth, you've seen nothing yet. The underlying public mood is benign. The public's assessment of its economic outlook remains positive. People expect to be better off at the end of the year than they are at the beginning. There simply aren't many little groups of resentful voters clamouring to 'get them out'. There will be, but the change will be at its most intense when the economic underpinning has gone and people associate personal unease with the crisis of the day.

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