How to spin out bad news, mayoral style

By Mr Brocklebank on Nov 30, 12 02:36 PM in Liverpool Mayor

THE press office at Liverpool council has a system by which staff rate the daily media coverage of town hall comings and goings.

Stories are ranked as either "positive", "neutral" or "negative".

Needless to say, as some of the daily round-ups which Mr Brocklebank has inadvertently been copied into suggest, very seldom is it that any story, no matter how critical, is put down as negative. Neutral, it would seem, is a far more ... well, neutral word.

So it's a good job, then, that Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson isn't responsible for compiling the daily round-up, otherwise the (by and large excellent) performance of the press office in trying to manage the media would look as though it were in a very sorry state of affairs indeed.

For his own now near-weekly digests of the news (emailed to the Labour group but, needless to say, leaked to Mr B and colleagues while the proverbial ink is still wet), reveal that the mayor is rarely impressed with the output of the local media, not to the point of suggesting stories are negative, but to the point of suggesting that they're not stories at all.

For example, the recent wranglings that saw Cllr Joe Hanson stripped of all his responsibilities for being critical of fellow cabinet member Roz Gladden was described by the mayor as "not a matter of real public interest".

Really? Nope. Apparently it was "nothing more than an internal party matter".

Surely that a holder of elected office should have behaved in such a way that his party believed did not make him fit to hold various responsibilities on various committees both internal and external to the council is very much a matter of public interest.

Mr B wonders how, had a similar issue arisen within the Liberal Democrat ranks while Labour were in opposition, the then Cllr Anderson would have taken to the press refusing to publish because it did not pass the public interest test.

Mayor Joe's email then went on to clarify there was no "lack of support for some of our MPs in Parliament among our councillors".

Any suggestions the Liverpool MPs "don't have the full support of our councillors for any reason whatsoever is wrong and inaccurate," he added.

Fast forward to one of the Mayor's close allies Peter Brennan's "unreserved apology" for comments that he was "appalled and disgusted" (mistakenly, of course) at our MPs' absence from two supposedly crucial Parliamentary debates, and it's difficult to see how that qualifies as "full support".

DEPUTY mayor Paul Brant's contribution to the round-robin email rant was the most sagacious.

"Can I please remind people that we should not put in writing anything that we would not be happy to have on the front page," he wrote.

With wise fellows like Paul around, there's no need to spend £90,000 on a spin doctor after all!

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David Bartlett

David Bartlett

City editor of the Post and Echo covering politics, regeneration, and urban affairs.
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