Minister admits: We have overdone the spin

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Indy Politics

A cabinet minister admitted that the Government had "overdone spin". Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, made the admission just days after the Tories' full-scale Commons assault on government news manipulation in the wake of the Railtrack collapse.

Ms Jowell called on journalists to help political parties engage with the public. She told the Parliamentary Press Gallery: "As a Government we have overdone spin, but I also think there is a major problem that we are all responsible for trying to solve.

"So much political coverage is more like private conversations between the inhabitants of the Westminster village than a way of engaging people up and down the country. I think I would say that the answer to this disengagement with politics does not lie in substituting real, serious politics for lifestyle news."

The Government has been under intense pressure over "spin" since the 11 September e-mail from Stephen Byers' adviser Jo Moore about "burying bad news" and the release of the minutes of a meeting between Mr Byers and the Railtrack chairman, John Robinson, under cover of the Chancellor's pre-Budget report.

The furore sparked an Opposition day debate on Monday, based on accusations of "cynical news management" by the Department of Transport. Concern mounted after a newspaper report in which a former Department of Education special adviser revealed techniques of burying news on the internet, publishing damaging stories late on Friday afternoons and repeating favourable announcements.

Tim Collins, the shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said: "It is astonishing that this of all governments should seek to blame the media for growing public cynicism about the inability of politicians to deliver on their promises."