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The spin is all in the prism

Posted on 14 April 2009 | 9:04am

‘Gordon Brown’s attempts to soften his image with a family pet for his young
sons backfired yesterday as a canine spin operation went horribly wrong. 

Downing Street had been planning to give the story of the Browns’ new dog
to The Guardian, who were angry that The Times had recently been favoured with
an exclusive about the Number 10 vegetable patch.

But the story of the latest Downing Street arrival leaked
out via the website

Last night Tory MPs were calling for an inquiry into Downing Street denials that that the dog photographed on the
doggy website was the Browns’ chosen pet.

“There is no doubt this is
the same dog as the one we now see Mr Brown parading around Downing
Street,” said shadow attack dog Chris Grayling. “The denial to calls into question the veracity of the whole Downing
Street operation. We need to know who knew what when and who said what to whom

Mr Brown said all his energies were focussed on the economy, Iraq and
Afghanistan and saving the planet.’

Far-fetched? Maybe. But not entirely.

Political reporters see everything through a prism. It changes according to
mood and moment.

For the moment, the mood around Barack Obama remains ‘can
do no wrong.’ Gordon knew that feeling for a while, when he took over from Tony Blair.
Then it went around the time of the on-off election. It came back at the start
of the economic crisis. It went again as the scale of the crisis became clear.
He got a bit of it back at the G20. Now, for the next period at least, the
prism will be defined by the departure of Damian McBride.

So, had the dog been British-Portugese not American-Portugese, and the timing
now, the above news spoof may not be too far-fetched after all. As for the
facts, for Brown read Obama, for Downing Street read White House, for sons read
daughters, for Guardian read Washington Post, for Times read New York Times.
For, apparently, read .

And the White House did claim that the dog pictured on it was not Bo, the
Portugese water dog currently getting more media attention than any celeb,
crisis or war, when clearly it was.

Trivial? Yes. But when the prism changes,
the trivial can sometimes damage almost as much as the serious.

‘Speaking on The Antiques Roadshow last night David Cameron said “We were
told the era of spin was over. Yet now we know that when Downing Street should
be worrying about jobs, they care more about which paper gets the dog story and
who gets the vegetable patch. I’m not just calling for an inquiry … Surely it
is time for an election.”‘

  • Wardog

    Where are the policies Alistair?

    Not only is Damien McBride who has become the story it’s the whole frenzied spin system, over the last few months we’ve story upon story of empty rhetoric, faux action and a general waiting to see if it gets better because ‘that’ll prove our actions were right’

    Labour are floundering, you and others like you have very well out of the New Labour Project. Despite calls aplenty to tax high earners to pay for better social services, New labour resisted. After twelve years the poverty gap is bigger, the odious BNP are knocking on the door o of England and Scots are wanting to break loose (atleast in a monetary and economic sense) from Westminister control.

    We’ve been to war twice and are still involved some six years later, we’re committed to renewing our nuclear armaments just when Obama calls fro drastic reductions. We have the spectacle of the Tory’s supporting Labour on new civil nuclear power, pfi, privatised schools, privatised hospitals, privatised royal mail and publicly owned banks where the Government seem terrified to actually act.

    The pound has dipped, the housing market is bust and we’re in the deepest recession with the biggest debt ever recorded in recent history.

    Surely IT IS TIME for an election?

    At the very least, to confirm the pulic are behind Brown’s economic policies.

    IT’S TIME Brown put Britain First and not New Labour.

    TIME to back up the rhetoric.

    What a mess.

  • Caroline Hett

    I feel desperately sorry for Gordon Brown this morning. I heard (on R4 Today prog at around 7.50am) this morning that the McBride debacle puts paid to Labour’s (albeit very slim) hopes of being returned to power. Not only has McBride completely ruined the Labour party’s election hopes, he has been bad for democracy.

    Apparently McBride introduced himself as “Gordon Brown’s Spin Doctor” at a House of Commons’ Burns Night Party. Were you not there, Alastair? Celebrating your Scottishness?

    Gordon Brown could have been basking in post-G20 euphoria. Instead he is having to hand-write letters of apology for some puerile emails which had nothing to do with him. Poor chap – he is too good for the Labour party.

  • Peter Farley

    Nothing like teaching old attack dogs not to suck on grandmas chocolate creme eggs then? But then what would an absuer of innocent sheep entrails in the name of music know about “Me and You and a dog named Boo” anyway? Happy mixed metaphors…..

  • kevin

    Very true. Prisms often have three sides. Camerongate should be reserved for the run-up to a GE. I don’t think any would would be so dumb as to guess what Camerongate might be but it sounds like the title of book. Why does it need to be fiction when facts abound? A man in a hurry is a man whose worried; that’s Cameron.

  • Ian Eastwood

    You couldn’t make this stuff up! Could you? No wonder there are so many reality TV shows the truth is stranger than fiction.

  • Charlie

    Following yesterdays Parrot metaphor, the other film that springs to mind when considering Gordon Brown is Titanic.

    Brown becomes Captain just as the ship strikes the iceberg……etc etc.

  • Vincenzo Rampulla

    At the risk of going all ‘scientific’, I think that it’s too easy to imagine that prism you’re talk about as somethign solid, unchangeable. It’s more fluid than that, and politicians (or anyone else in front of the microphone) can influence it.

    Why couldn’t Hazel on the BBC this morning decry political journalism and it’s focus on sensationalism? That’s the story: Labour and Tories are working to feed the beast and dancing to its tune, and we’re all too scared to challenge it.

    By just holding the line at “Gord’s taken action” we’re just running to stand still, hoping the journos will lose interest.

  • jayprich

    Though superficially funny, this case actually highlights the complicity of the media establishment: a status quo as true in the UK as the US.
    The guy behind FDC appears to solicit an appearance on TV Jon Stewart’s satirical “Daily Show”, shown by Ch4 over here, made by Comedy Central part of the MTV network. I gather it is rather good and these talk shows (and The Onion) are the equivalent of Private Eye here. UK can’t be complacent that it is somehow in a healthier situation than our cousins.

  • Patricia Norrington

    surely the public can see why the Tories are in uproar over the emails,they are trying to overshadow the work the Labour Government is doing.Mr. Cameron should try overshadowing the LABOUR Party by working out good Policies…NOT, but he is failing in that sense, so has to resort to methods of distraction by blowing the email saga out of proportion.

  • Em

    I find myself agreeing with Wardog on this point: parties like the BNP flourish in this kind of economic climate and Labour must do more to address the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

    GB is a thinker and a believer, his lifelong interests in socialism, left-wing economic theory and historical examples of socialist labour movements, tell me he could be the man who helps New Labour transcend its centre-right policies and help Britain become the world’s best example of a democracy that maintains a balance between individual will, creativity, and/or entrepreneurship, whilst providing a good standard of living, comprehensive care, rehabilitation and (re) education for those in need. It’s a Utopic idea, but GB has the intellect to conceive and implement this social balancing act. I won’t echo Caroline’s GB is “too good for the Labour party” but GB is very good indeed and someone at No. 10 needs to get serious about communicating this “factoid” to the British people.

    Of course, strategically, that would give the Tories room to breathe. It’s no wonder Cameron as all artifice. He and the Tory leader body count behind him have been cornered by Labour policies which leave the Tories in a policy no man’s land.

    Finally, you know, you almost got me with your waterdog gate satire. Politics are so surreal these days, how was I supposed to know Tory MPs werent really calling for an inquiry into the dog picture?

  • Mark Clitheroe

    “Mr Cameron says “Downing Street should be worrying about jobs, they care more about which paper gets the dog story.” That’s rich coming from the man that abandoned his constituency a few years ago when they were sufferring from severe flooding to seek headlines from an overseas publicity trip. If he spent more time defining Conservative policies instead of appearing on The Antiques Roadshow I might respect his opinions.

    As far as Gordon Brown’s dog is concerned I couldn’t give a monkeys. I would be disappointed if Gordon Brown was involved in promoting a story about a dog, alhough important to his boys, in the scale of world events it doesn’t even register.

  • CPW

    Hopefully this McBride business tolls the death knell for his and your political class – the unelected but paid guttersnipe type who has spent ten years in preparation for his New Labour role kow-towing to an Eddy Shah (you shitting me, AC) or Maxwell type before he’s perfected his lickspittle personality to such a height that he’s only for the Iago role in an AM-Dram Othello.

    You’re all poor players – invidious, obnoxious and hungry for power without the humility nor application to run for public office.

  • AC

    I should make clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that the parts of today’s blog in single quotes are a spoof. I have seen some comments which seem to think David Cameron really was on Antiques Roadshow calling for an election over doggy-gate. He wasn’t.
    re earlier comments on Englishness/Scottishness/Britishness … happy to make clear I am British first. I strongly believe in the UK, and my own sense of national identity stems from that. My upbringing, in England, was a very Scotttish one because of the values and background of my parents. They are other relatives were a big influence on me. Culturally, because of my interest in the bagpipes I guess, I feel Scottish. In sport, I put Scotland ahead of England. None of that means, as one comment suggested, that I hate the English. Far from it. But I feel British then Scottish then English. I would be happy for my own children to describe themselves as any or all of those three, in any order. Do I support devolution? Yes. Do I think the BArnett formula should be reviewed? Not right now.

  • Em

    I understand why you clarified despite the several tip-offs in your entry.

    Today’s comments are hilarious. Now, I feel left out.

    The “you must feel British” line: I haven’t formulated it to myself yet, but there’s something in this that’s akin to heterosexism. Why can’t I feel Jamaican if I want to? What if there’s another culture out there that resonates with me more deeply than the one I happen to have been born to? If every child was afforded the luxury of self-definition, this would be a better world.

    I feel very much a citizen of the world. American when I’m in the U.S., British in the U.K., French in France — but not, I must admit, Scottish in Scotland. Some cultures are simply too homogenous for one to adhere to it on contact and, let’s be honest, who you are culturally is partly contingent on the gaze of others.

    And here lies the rub: some don’t feel a particular attachment to their parents or grand-parents’ adopted land because they live their days surrounded by gazes that pigeonholes them as “other”.

  • Em

    For the record: this comment is being submitted before any reply (if any) to my comment was published.

    I misspoke. “British in the U.K. but not Scottish in Scotland” really, Em?

    And why to I feel like giving a speech from a Scottish city hall balcony and scream out:

    “Vive l’Écosse! Vive l’Écosse libre!”

    (bisous à tous qui comprennent la référence)

  • Alan Quinn

    Just goes to show that the tories are so desperate that they demand government statements on a shite machine.

    Memo to GB: those dog hairs get everywhere and make the young Browns live up to their promises to take the dog out instead of leaving it to GB and Sarah whilst they’re playing on their PSP’s.
    Mr Miserable of Manchester (conned into owning two shite machines).

  • CPW

    Emmy dear, alas, your sensibilities and intellect really are uncongenial with this planet. you’re made of finer stuff – now, why not fuck off back to Mars.

  • Mike Barlow

    That wasn’t David Cameron ‘we all saw’ on ‘Antiques Roadshow’ that was Burnley FC *FA Cup Winners medals…both are about as connected to reality, as The Taliban are to The Samaritans.

    I am totally talking out my arse, of course, being a Liverpool supporter ;oP


    PS: Depressed? Anxious? Lonely? Want a lover? Call ‘The Talibans’ for immediate execution.

    *substitute ANY trophy, no matter how vague or unknown…even a Sunday League one, here

  • Alina Palimaru

    Hey CPW, I think Internet Providers should implement a registration system that would prevent single-digit IQ amoebas like you from spilling their filth on fora such as this one.

  • Alina Palimaru

    To Mike Barlow:

    Your comments are so puerile! I think they should raise the legal internet access age to 12, at least! Three-year olds don’t have much to contribute. Now Mikey, call your mommy and daddy, tell them to change your diaper and tuck you in… and then off to Crackpotland with you!

  • Jane A

    I probably shouldn’t but I loved the DC on Antiques Roadshow vision.

    Imagine, DC strolls up to Fiona Bruce with a dusty tome under his arm.

    “Ooooh,” says Fiona. “I haven’t seen one of those in a while. Any idea what it is, Dave?”

    Dave wipes his hands on a well situated servant.

    “Not a clue,” he says. “We haven’t been up in the ancestral attic since the War of the Roses.”

    Fiona peers at the book. “Mmmm. Cons…ser…M…N…F…ES…some of the letters are a bit worn away….is that an O?”

    Dave shakes his head. “Not a word I’m familar with, Fi, sorry.”

    “Hang on a sec, under that it says “Policies.””

    Dave looks blank. “Nope, doesn’t ring any bells.”

    “It’s obviously an antique, then.”

    Dave looks around for some help. A minion whispers in his ear. “Oh, yeah, yeah, got it now – no, no policies in this generation. This must be grandpapa’s.”


  • CPW

    Listen Palimaru, I don’t need to use the ‘recherché’ plural of forum to establish my intellectual credentials. While we’re at it, the embarrassing sycophancy and the palpable sense of “give me a job, be my friend, ally’ is not only distasteful but fucking laughable. The man’s publishing his bland cogitations here because nobody will employ him, you half wit.

    Get you lickspittle sycophantic tongue out of his arse before you dare demur at my offerings again.

  • Mike Barlow


    Mommy, diapers….you’re not an over-zealous American intent on telling us Brits how to live life, eh, by any chance ;OP

    Perchance, Sir/Madame/Both/Neither/Either/Hybrid, you should not poke yonder nose into other nations internal discussions; but that would perhaps be asking too much to fight against your own genetics, it seems.

    Did you have a complete humour bypass performed whilst still in the womb. Not so much of a question, more of a cry to the ether. Or perhaps you got upset at my references to Burnley FC?

    In polite company, one must never mention the Brian Clough/Burnley/Jimmy Aristotle, Pease Pudding and Haggis conventions of 1978, espcially now that it has been made illegal to tamper with a Burnley monger document.

    So, on that faux pas of mentioning said unlawful acts twixt ferrets and Tommy Docherty, I apologise for having upset your rather staid sensibilities.

    By ‘ech lad/lass/whippet thas reet touchy the neet tha knows.


  • Em

    I’ve never been vile to you or insulted you, CPW. If you were a gentleman, you would treat me like the lady that I am.

    I, for one, refuse to be disrespectful.

  • BarBar of Oz

    My goodness. All of this sure reminds one what a class act was Tony Blair. If he becomes permanent president of the EU, Alistair, can the Brits secede to Brussels before facing the choice between GB Labour and the Tories?

  • Robin

    The McBride scandal reminds me of all the lies and deceit of the Blair and Campbell days. They talked of changing Britain for the better, saving the NHS, improving the schools, a fairer society etc.
    What have we got from this promise…Despite raping the country with hidden taxes and a spending spree of epic proportions the NHS is still floundering and roundly criticised, (you can actually now go to hospital and get iller !). School standards have been destroyed by dumbed down exams leaving vast swathes of our young barely able to read. The Police, once a highly respected part of our society, are busy criminalising the silent law abiding majority whilst ignoring real crime, which largely goes unrecorded because people have no faith in the system of justice anymore. This has been driven by a Labour Govt obsessed with setting targets and creating redtape and bureaucracy for the police. The Armed Forces, a true jewel in the crown of this country, has been tasked to undertake two major deployments whilst being scandalously under resourced. This is largely due to Brown and people like Campbell and Blair realising there are limited votes for Labour in the Armed Forces so why fund them when able to create thousands of unproductive jobs in the Civil Service and guarantee more tied in Labour votes at subsequent elections.
    The only real success of the “Blair / Brown project” has been the ability to spin utterly deceitful news and results to the electorate. The desire for power has so controlled their actions that they now actually believe what they say, fuelled by odious deceivers in chief like Campbell and McBride.
    I was once, a long time ago, a believer that “New Labour” might actually do something worthwhile. I now realise that spin is all it has ever really consisted of….treat the public like the fools we all are. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are far from perfect but I’d rather their imperfection to the lies and deceit of this self-seeking bunch. To me, it is people like Campbell and McBride that are as guilty of Britain’s demise over the last 10 years as Blair and Brown.

  • Matt

    My dog, who is incidentally called Bobby for reasons of great political history, is very important to me.

  • Em

    Mike, CPW, all you are doing is advertising your discomfort at Alina’s intelligence and eloquence. Your words about Alina say every little about her and speak volumes about you. Stop embarrassing yourselves.

  • Mike Barlow


    I think it neither intelligent nor eloquent for an individual to commence [and commence they did] personal attacks on 2 individuals who were making general comments within the forum.

    Rather than eloquent, I’d suggest egocentric. As opposed to intelligent, I would suggest ignorant and deluded, quite obsessed with self-importance and a HIGHLY misplaced sense of superiority.

    Now, am I allowed to say that Mein Fuehrer?