Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Prime Minister wants end to culture of spin"

When Philip Webster writes a story in the Times, we all have to take it seriously. But even Phil must have chuckled as he wrote about how Blair had ordered an end to the "culture of spin". The problem is this story was itself spun for about the hundredth time, so no one believes a word of it.

The reality is that Blair is obsessed with spin. How else can you explain why, on the night Labour came to power in 1997, he spent hours trying to persuade Gordon Brown to sack his spin-doctor (me)? And who, the next day, wasn't interested in discussing the independence of the Bank of England but in when Brown's spinner should go?

The reason why the story about the special adviser Dan Corry was so badly reported was because nothing has been done to end the "culture of spin". Blair was even at it the day the Webster story broke - appearing in Sven-lookalike glasses. No, the only way the government will end the spin culture is by doing something dramatic. Blair should now do what he ought to have done after the last election - sack Alastair Campbell. He would be making the clearest statement he could that spin was behind him.

The reason he doesn't sack Alastair is the same reason he let Mandelson back in to the government: he thinks he can't cope without him. This is bollocks. I am not so sure Campbell wants to stay on, and anyway, he has lost his touch, as the row over the Queen Mum's funeral shows. It was Campbell making such a fuss about it that made it a bigger story than it was, and all he has done now is ensure the story again makes headlines. Sorry, Alastair, but it's time to go - like the French football team, you're past your sell-by date.

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