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Thursday, June 02, 2011


This morning's Independent reports that the personal spin doctor and attack dog for the embattled Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has been muzzled, after senior Liberal Democrats objected to her alleged rubbishing of Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and other Liberal Democrat ministers.

The paper says that Jenny Jackson was barred from briefing journalists after being caught sending emails that undermined Mr Clegg:

Earlier this month, Mr Clegg told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that the reforms were being pushed through too fast, that the 2013 deadline should be put back and that GPs should not be forced to sign up to the new commissioning consortiums. Senior journalists then received emails from Jenny Jackson, quoting things that Mr Clegg had said about the NHS reforms before his party suffered setbacks in the May local elections and the referendum. The clear implication was that the Deputy PM had changed his tune after his party's drubbing at the polls. The email outraged senior Liberal Democrats.

Ms Jackson was already in their sights after an anonymous briefing in April in which a "Tory insider" belittled the contribution of Liberal Democrat junior ministers in Government departments headed by Conservative cabinet ministers. The "insider" likened Liberal Democrat junior ministers to "yapping dogs" who could be largely ignored. Later Ms Jackson was named as the source of these comments.

After speculation that she could be offered as a sacrifice to improve Coalition relations, it was reported yesterday that she had been sacked. That was denied categorically by the Department of Health, though the press office would not comment on whether she was still entitled to brief journalists.

It is the most serious row involving a Conservative spin doctor since the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, complained to David Cameron about a personal attack on the head of the Electoral Commission, Jenny Watson, attributed to a spin doctor working for Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.

The paper has already drawn its own conclusions about this behind-the-scenes row, attributing it to tensions within the coalition. However, anybody who recalls the spin wars between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair will know that in comparison this is a storm in a teacup.

What is remarkable is not that Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are briefing against each other but that the Prime Minister has stopped it so decisively, for now.
"What is remarkable is not that Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are briefing against each other"

"We're all in this together."

Yes you are - Tory patsies ...
It is rather sad that this is the only level that you can engage in debate. However, what is clear from all the evidence is that the Liberal Democrats are nobody's patsies and are actually having a major influence on the government's agenda.
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