Sultans of Spin Author Nicholas Jones Published by Victor Gollancz hardback 1999 ISBN 0-575-06732-2 Orion paperback (updated) 1999 ISBN 0-75282-769-3
Does presentation matter more to New Labour than the proper procedures of government? For Labour's spin doctors the transition from opposition to government did not come easy, and the initial image of a government which could do no wrong was soon buried under a heap of banana skins. The New Labour machine, so streamlined and smoothly oiled when attacking the Conservatives, spluttered when faced with the realities of power. Embarrassments came and went, but for many political observers - and politicians - they were symptomatic of a larger issue: was style now winning over substance?
In Sultans of Spin Nicholas Jones, acclaimed journalist and writer on the uneasy relationship between politicians and the media, examines the failure and successes of the Labour media machine during the first years in power.
The trials and tribulations of the New Labour propagandists: Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One and tobacco advertising; the "psychologically flawed" Gordon Brown and his rivalry with Tony Blair; Lord Irvine and his expensive new wallpaper; Rupert Murdoch's need for a little help from his friend; "Whenever you are ready, just tell me what you want, who you want to meet, and Derek and I will make the call for you."
Reviews of Sultans of Spin: "Thank God for Mr Jones" Bernard Ingham, Daily Telegraph; "Beyond satire...I recommend this book to everyone" Sunday Telegraph; "Stick to your day job, Nick" Charlie Whelan, New Statesman; "Pain in the neck though he may be, Jones constitutes a persuasive argument for the role of the journalist as useful nuisance. Long my he and his tape recorder flourish - but, if he doesn't mind, as far away as possible from me," Gerald Kaufman MP.
Paperback edition fully updated to reflect New Labour's continuing success in manipulating the news media when trailing government announcements. Media strategists at Conservative Central Office were coming to terms with Alastair Campbell's coup in re-writing the rule book for Whitehall information officers and the ability of Tony Blair's government to influence and even dictate the news agenda. Nicholas Jones formed the impression that no newly-elected Conservative government would seek to reverse the changes which Labour had introduced. The control and co-ordination which Downing Street was exercising over the flow of information from Whitehall was such that no incoming administration would wish to roll back the new procedures which had been forced upon the civil service.