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Letter: Labour in a spin

Sir: The press complains incessantly about spin-doctoring. Quite rightly. Then how would you describe your front page article "Ditch Ashdown, ministers tell Blair" (9 January)?

I quote: "John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor and Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, are to join forces in an attempt to prevent Mr Blair calling a referendum on electoral reform before the next election."

I scoured the rest of the story for quotes from these three "heavy-hitters". Not a word. Andrew Grice quotes "a source close to Mr Brown". Later in the story Colin Brown in Cape Town quotes "one Blair aide".

Who are these invisible people who must not be named? Will their lives be in danger if their identities are revealed? Will it destroy their families? Lose them their library ticket? No, of course not. These incognito sources are the very spin doctors so reviled in your editorials.

Political editors and reporters seem to spend much of their lives whirled in a vortex of gossip, rumour and disinformation. Take a lesson from the outing of Mandelson and Whelan. Reveal your sources. Some of your readers might find it intriguing to evaluate the quality of your source material. Or is that none of our business?


London NW3