'Bullying' Labour accused over spin doctor plea
Tuesday 18 January 2011
Labour was accused of "bullying" journalists today after the party's new chief spin doctor appealed to broadcasters to change the way they describe the Government.
Tom Baldwin, director of strategy and communications, claimed that referring to "the coalition" gave a misleading impression of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat alliance.
He called on the BBC and Sky News to introduce the labels "Tory-led" or "Conservative-Liberal Democrat" instead, insisting that party labels were "fairer" and "more accurate".
His comments, in a letter to executives and producers at the broadcasters, reflect a recent change in language among senior Labour politicians including leader Ed Miliband.
Mr Miliband is concerned that Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is taking too much of the flak for the coalition and wants a stronger focus on Tory Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Baldwin, formerly a journalist on The Times, was recruited to the Labour Party last month.
In his letter, he wrote: "As you may have noticed, we have changed our language in recent weeks to avoid describing the Government as a coalition or a partnership of equals.
"We believe a more accurate description is that this is a Conservative-led government."
He said broadcasters were "making a choice" by referring to the Government as "the coalition".
"The word 'coalition' is one that avoids party labels while also suggesting a degree of inter-party harmony and co-operation which is, day-by-day and split-by-split, being shown as false," he wrote.
Mr Baldwin added: "When you are talking about this government in a political context, I think it would be fairer to refer to it by reference to party labels."
Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: "This futile attempt to control the press is a pretty desperate move by Ed Miliband.
"It just goes to show that Labour are still up to their old bullying tactics."
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