Monday, May 23, 2005

New Labour deception

Did anybody caught Dispatches on Channel 4? It was an insightful documentary into the way New Labour press office and spin doctoring works and how New Labour is still operating like they did in 1997 - obsessed with media manipulation.

In one scene Alan Milburn, the election co-ordinator found that there weren't enough journalists who bothered to turn up. Faced with embarrassment, Labour press officers were sent to fill up seats pretending to be journalists.

Labour MPs were also spoon fed. Some can't even write their own letters and have press office create templates for them. Yes - templates. All the MPs has to do is to fill in empty blanks on templates such as this:

"xxx MP urges people to xxx area to become school governors."

Fake letters in praise of the government and NHS are sent out to regional papers. These letters are so similar that a paper in Barnet printed the exact same letters twice.

It also seems that New Labour had a strategy of sidelining print journalist. They get residents to write the papers condemning other parties such as the Liberal Democrats. No, that is wrong - the press office writes the letters for the residents.

This is because many people trust the letters in print more.

New Labour also sent out party activist to ruin walkabouts by Charles Kennedy. Such fake demos which are run anonymously and are called independent protest are actually done by Labour activists.

Jenny, the undercover reporter who works at Labour Head Office were forced to attend the launch of a Labour poster. The crowd were told to be 'ordinary local voters' but in fact were filled with Labour back room staff. ITV's Nick Robinson was at the event and heckled Tony Blair.

In the next event, the Labour press officers decided to use 'Labour supporters' to shield Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Even the BBC were shouting at the human shields (mainly Labour office interns) to get out of the way. You can actually listen to Andrew Marr, the political editor of the BBC grumbling in the background. Something I never knew Andrew was capable to doing.

Did Tony Blair actually met any real people who were unveted during the election? It looks like the answer is no.

It was a fascinating documentary. Very informative. In this media orientated world this is supposed to be normal (in the US it is), but should such deceptions really be allowed to happen at a supposed democratic country.

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