Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Civil servants at war with special advisers"

The sacking of Jo Moore as a government spin-doctor was messy because of her obvious rows with the Department of Transport's head of communications, Martin Sixsmith. She will at least have the consolation of knowing that she helped bring him down, too - though she won't feel quite as good as I did when I took Peter Mandelson down with me.

The split between Sixsmith and Moore enabled hacks to write about wars between civil service press officers and special advisers. But Sixsmith wasn't a proper civil servant. He had been headhunted from the BBC, just as much a political appointee as Moore - and that's probably why they fell out. There was also jealousy over who had greater access to their boss, Stephen Byers, and Sixsmith was annoyed that Byers took more notice of Moore. This friction can cause problems - it's no secret that Ken Clarke's press secretary at the Treasury did not last five minutes with me around.

Given that I had worked with Gordon Brown in opposition, it was obvious that he would listen more to me. Most people in the press office were glad to be able to talk to someone who knew the Chancellor so well. In fact, most government press officers like having a "political" special adviser helping them, because it means they don't have to worry too much about the arcane rules relating to things political.

The Treasury press office is not allowed to put out statements deemed political. I thought all Brown's speeches were political, but apparently not. Rarely some jobsworth would point to a "political" line, and that's where I'd come in. I would release it to the media, thus avoiding a pointless row about what is and isn't political. Maybe one day we will have a sensible debate about the role of political appointees.

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