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back to front - the limits of spin


WHEN BLAIR finally leaves Downing Street, as one day he surely will, you can be sure that the people who earn their living from commenting on politics will date his demise from the departure of Alistair Campbell. And they will be wrong.

The myth has grown up that all the spin doctoring of Campbell, Mandelson, and others, was the reason why Labour was elected in 1997. It's a myth assiduously cultivated by those who believe they direct events in society, and worse still believe that they are responsible for how people think.

The truth is that people are a lot more clever than spin doctors and politicians give them credit for. People think for themselves, and judge for themselves, even if they can often give the appearance of not doing so.

Take the issue of the euro. Nothing has been subject to greater spinning from ministers, their aides, and their "friends" (a strange term, that, in a world where stabbing in the back is part of the normal way of life). All kinds of lies and deceptions have been wheeled out, leaked out, spun out to tell us how vital it is for Britain, how we will fade away without it, how we will find the Eurozone countries speeding away from us. Yet the spin seems to be having no effect.

And this is no isolated phenomenon. When the Danes were urged to abandon their own currency for the euro, a referendum was fought in which the entire establishment of press (every television channel and national newspaper) and major parliamentary parties, plus the trade union confederation, urged them to vote for the euro. And they refused, rejecting it in their referendum in 2000. Of course, the Danish government will try again, but it is now wary and talks about "some time in 2004".

The Swedes are currently experiencing a similar propaganda bombardment ahead of their referendum on the euro on 14 September, but according to opinion polls are ungraciously rejecting the advice of their press and politicians.

Workers are not sheep, a fact that for a long time has confounded those who wish to manipulate them - including those on the so-called "left" who believe that they can use captured moribund union branches as levers to transform the thinking of union members. Workers are thinking beings. They will not make a revolution because someone tells them to, and quite rightly so.

Workers have already rejected (if, indeed, they ever accepted) the Blair mantras of the euro, subservience to the US, and privatisation. His stock was slumping well before Campbell left or the Hutton inquiry started. Let the spinners spin, and believe they are changing the world; they do not have a fraction of the influence they think they possess.

Those who truly wish to see thought transformed in this country, and play their part in transforming it, should start by listening to the thinking that is already out there. They will learn a lot about the limits of spin.