Take Me To Your Leader Writer

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...has written more leaders (newspaper editorials) than anyone alive or dead, an honour still to be recognised by the Guiness Book of Records or the Nobel judges. I have produced them for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday People, the Evening Post (Hemel Hempstead), the Caithness Courier and the Student (Edinburgh). My creed is: Have opinions, Will travel.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

The Baldwin truth

Remember that terrifying scene at the end of Carrie when the hand thrusts out of the grave? Or the moment the bunny boiler bursts up in the bath in Fatal Attraction?
The political equivalent has happened with Ed Miliband's new media appointments. The disembodied figure bursting on an unsuspecting world is Alastair Campbell.
The hand of Campbell is clearly in evidence in the hiring of Tom Baldwin from The Times and Bob Roberts from the Daily Mirror. Apart from anything else, the new Labour leader doesn't really know many journalists so it isn't hard to see why he should turn to the spin master for suggestions.
Bob Roberts is the latest in a long line of Mirror political editors to take the Labour shilling but he is an excellent appointment. He is honourable, trustworthy, likeable and conscientious. The Westminster hacks he will now be dealing with know they can rely on him. Well done, Alastair - good move.
Tom Baldwin is from a different mould. He is certainly a clever fellow and in many ways a good journalist but he has a decidedly dodgy record when it comes to handling politics. He was known as Campbell's mouthpiece when Blair was in power, not a good recommendation.
Greg Dyke says of Baldwin: "When I was still running the BBC I once asked Robert Thomson, Baldwin's editor at the Times, why he didn't sack Baldwin, as he wasn't an independent journalist at all but a mouthpiece for Downing Street. He replied: 'He gets good stories,' which missed the whole point. The reason that Baldwin got good stories from Downing Street was that he was Campbell's man; he acted as their messenger."
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Perhaps Tom has now found his proper home and will be brilliant for Ed. Despite his many faults - including lying, deception and oiling the wheels that took Britain into an illegal war - Alastair did great things for Blair and the Labour Party.
Let me ask one thing, though. Andy Coulson is under continual attack for the role he may or may not have played in phone tapping when he was editor of the New of the World. But I believe him to be a decent, honourable man.
Who would you most trust not to get involved in the production of a dodgy dossier for his boss: Andy Coulson or Campbell/Baldwin?

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