Right of Reply: Benjamin Wegg-Prosser
Tuesday 14 December 1999
to the article by a disillusioned spin doctor at Labour's headquarters written under the pseudonym `Peter Millbank'
PETER MILLBANK'S criticisms of Labour's so-called spin doctors were no more than a childish attack on Margaret McDonagh, the party's General Secretary.
Across a page of verbiage Mr Millbank, a man who chose the cloak of anonymity to preserve his job at party HQ, criticised Ms McDonagh for the following reasons: she seeks constantly to update and improve the organisation for which she has executive responsibility; she does not suffer fools gladly and disapproves of skivers; she has a tough management style demanding the best from her staff; she has the support of her own boss, the Prime Minister; she gets involved in detailed aspects of the work of the party; and she rates loyalty among her staff highly.
Now imagine the opposite - hardly a recipe for success in any company or public body, let alone a political party.
There's nothing new in Labour's revising its internal structures and introducing new ways of working. Harold Wilson wrote a report in 1955 that highlighted fundamental management failings and concluded: "compared to our opponents we are still at the penny farthing stage in a jet-propelled era". In 1985, Philip Gould produced a 64-page document setting out the communications plan so crucial to the creation of New Labour.
Labour should and will always seek to change and improve because that's the only way to keep up with the public and stay ahead of the Tories.
If Mr Millbank can't handle working for someone who asks him to arrive on time, pay attention to detail and work hard for the things he's meant to believe in, then it's probably time he left Millbank Tower. He should take note of history, remove his head from the sand and acknowledge that he's doing a job that thousands of Labour supporters would die for.
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