Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Politics Needs Substance, Not Spin

Robin Harris has an ARTICLE in the Telegraph today which shouldbe required reading for everyone. Headlined POLITICS HAS ALWAYS BEEN SPUN, BUT NOW IT IS OUT OF CONTROL, the article says that politicians of all parties have been lured into the culture of spin but the remedy is for them to restore public trust in politics by talking about substantial issues. Read it HERE.

PS Watch my interview with Robin Harris on his new biography of Talleyrand HERE. Robin is an ex Director of the CRD and a former member of Margaret Thatcher's Policy Unit.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

A good article and thanks for bringing to the attention of your readers.

It points out the need to put principles first.

But I bet your first thought when the Patrick Mercer story broke was nearer to "how is this going to play with voters?" - a pragmatic view, rather than a moral stance based upon what your conscience was telling you.

Am I right or am I right?

Colin D said...

Is spin an euphemism, for lying, bullshitting,going to war?

Man in a Shed said...

There is a real problem for the members of the big two political parties. (The Lib Dems are at least used to changing beliefs with each street they walk on.)

Why remain a party member of any mainstream party ? You are looked on with suspicion by the focus group minded leadership, who know that as a party member you've marked yourself well out from the mainstream where all the votes they need are. Indeed some of the best political strategies seem to revolve around beating up your membership (clause 4 / the A List).

The answer used to be its worth belonging because of what the parties believed in. But now everything is - except Christian relgious freedom apparently -up for negotiation.

The parties answer is state funding - so career politicians no longer need to hang out with the weirdos who make up their party's memberships.

comfy socks and a bottle of rum said...

And the moral of the story is don't spin,but Tony and the lads have been in power for ten years.What does this tell us,well that Tony and the lads got it right.

Newmania said...

I read the Telegraph and I can’t say this grabbed me much. It is a meandering article that reheats a decades grumbling as if it were an insight. For what purpose other than to fill space , is unlcear

Political clarity is the least of our problems. Fiscal clarity is vastly more serious . I was at an elf` an` safety meeting yesterday and we were reminded that 40% of the working population have a reading age of under 12.How can our democracy function when taxes are routinely hidden in verbiage in a style that would land a Pensions salesman in court? Why do we put up with the very notion of a stealth tax ? Where is the anger that we are lied to and misled about our own money .Don`t worry about spin , noone listens to politicians anyway. Worry about actual lies in legislation where we might at least start to do something about it .

Anonymous said...

This article would be more convincing if harris wasn't so hypocritial about Iraq.

He can just about get away with being a neo-con cheerleader despite admitting the public were misled but he consistently acuses Howard of opportunism over Iraq. Yet then Harris says the public were misled. Go figure ???

Anonymous said...

nice of Dave's old boss to describe him as 'a marketing man to his fingertips'.

just what the country wants, i'm sure.

Ralph said...

If we, the public, and the media didn't listen to or broadcast the spin they would stop using it.

comfy socks and a bottle of rum said...

Newmania said...clarity is vastly more serious . I was at an elf` an` safety meeting yesterday and we were reminded that 40% of the working population have a reading age of under 12.

Not surprised just have a look at the comments pages over at Guidos'.

Anonymous said...

Yes, New Labour have spun to a significant degree, but Harris possibly underestimates the enormous impact that 24 hour news and the internet have had. I'm not saying Blair's lot weren't already predisposed to playing the media game, but no other government has had to do so much to continue feeding the beast which is a much more unrelenting, demanding creature than even 5 years ago, let alone a decade.

Media outlets are not impartial observers, and if the government aren't giving them what they want, they will take retribution, with a bitchy column or an attack piece. This extent of media managment is here to stay, whichever party is in government. Steve Hilton isn't there to be the next Bernard Ingham, swatting away a few hacks, he is there to be Alastair Campbell, creating a continuous campaign, and a seamless melding of policy and communications.

It's just how it works today, and the more Conservatives get on their high horses now, the more you will have to eat your hats when Steve Hilton is sexing up dossiers and booking interviews with Cameron on Richard & Judy.

David Anthony said...

Robin Harris has an ARTICLE in the Telegraph today which shouldbe required reading for everyone

I don't see why, the article offers nothing new.

Anonymous said...

Substance is not the opposite of spin. At least not in the way the article meant it - that is intellectually consistent.

I remember when a [Kantian] Labour MP asked Blair what he believed in - Blair's reply was "a reflective puddle" - well he meant to say that.

I think you can agree that being intellectually consistent is what is wanted, as well as less spin. Though our doubts as to whether we will get either reflects our certainty that the two are not reciprocial.

Madasafish said...

I read the article. It was inane. Politicians should tell the truth. So what will make them?

The article stopped short of saying how. Which is the key point. Short term politicians lie cos they can get away with it.

And in the same paper on the same day they were lamenting the absence of Osbourne on the pensions debate.

Says it all really. The Conservatives could not run an Opposition in a 20 party state let alone a 2 party one.

IF the Official Opposition can't be bothered, it's as much their fault as the Government's.

I have little sympathy for the Conservative party (being a natural Conservative voter) cos they bought the lies on Iraq and frankly are about as incompetent in Opposition as the Government are in Power.

I see no reason for state funding of total lies AND mediocrity...and I would demand that Ministers who lie have no choice: they are forced to resign and lose ALL their perks AND pension rights (as they should)..

Standards in politics have to be brought to a mediocre level.. we cannot trust politicians to do it...