There are too many advisers, says Major

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Indy Politics

Political spin-doctors have got "out of hand" and are harming the government, John Major, the former prime minister, said last night.

Political spin-doctors have got "out of hand" and are harming the government, John Major, the former prime minister, said last night.

Mr Major told the House of Commons Public Administration Committee he would never have appointed a political spokesman like Alastair Campbell. If he had been re-elected in 1997 he would have restricted cabinet ministers to one adviser each, he said.

Both his own government and the current one had been plagued by leaks from advisers, he said. "They have got out of hand. There are too many of them. Whatever their individual qualities, as a collective body they cause more problems for the Government than they solve," he said.

Sometimes a ministerial "spat" would explode in the media, suggesting the Prime Minister was at "terrible loggerheads" with a colleague while the two were lunching together, he said.

"It did occur to me that some of that came from advisers. It isn't good for government to have these tremendous spats that burst into the media, which I think often emerge below the salt, as it were, in discussions with people close to ministers."

Mr Major admitted there were disadvantages to having a civil service press spokesman, especially when "grey areas" arose between government policy and party politics. But in general, the advantages were far greater.

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