Amanda 'I'm not a politician' Platell defends past briefing from Labour

William Hague's spin-doctor, Amanda Platell, was challenged on her own political philosophy when she appeared at the television festival.

William Hague's spin-doctor, Amanda Platell, was challenged on her own political philosophy when she appeared at the television festival.

It was disclosed last week that Ms Platell, when a Mirror Group executive, was briefed by the Labour Party before appearing on the BBC's Question Time. Yesterday she was asked by ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis whether she had changed allegiance for her new job and if she was bothered by the criticism.

Ms Platell responded: "I'm not a politician. I don't have a comment. If the worst thing that people can drag up about me is that I worked for the Mirror and went on television and gave their line, I'm not unhappy."

Ms Platell told the audience that Mr Hague wants to challenge Tony Blair to a live TV debate during the next election campaign. She said she had been negotiating with stations for about a year, but Mr Blair had not yet agreed to the idea.

Gordon Brown's former press adviser Charlie Whelan, on the same panel discussing the role of spin-doctors, said: "Blair wouldn't do it in a million years. He is too far ahead in the polls." Mr Whelan said that in the last general election Mr Brown debated with Tory chancellor Kenneth Clarke. "The debates with Ken Clarke were the most difficult thing Gordon Brown had to do by a mile."

Mr Whelan distanced the Chancellor from the phrase "the third way", which has come to characterise the Blair philosophy. Mr Whelan said it was a myth that all ministers used the phrase. He said: "It's only the Prime Minister who has used that phrase. Have you ever heard Gordon Brown talk about the third way?"

He added: "Gordon Brown in his last Budget speech used the word 'prudence' 20 times. You may think that is over the top, but you have to do that to get the message across."

Mr Whelan criticised the journalists' lobby at Westminster as a "secret, murky world, a secret sect that takes unattributable briefings. I have been there in the lobby when they make up stories and hunt in a pack."

Ms Platell was critical of the spinning at the Democratic Party convention in the United States, where a home video of presidential candidate Al Gore kissing his wife was shown. "I would never recommend that William Hague kiss Ffion." She said: "We can learn a lot from Australia, where you have a prime minister who has turned his back on national TV as he wasn't getting a fair show, and uses local radio."

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