An article on this blog about a worrying precedent in government spin has caused a very minor ripple in the blogosphere.
On 20 June 2007, an entry on the blog, entitled “Government spin – a worrying precedent” told the story of how the Department of Health had suggested changes to the draft public record of a speaker’s comments after a meeting in London.
A posting on the site of Tim Worstall, a popular UK blogger, says:
“Many years ago I worked for a very large, meeting and committee ridden retail organisation. My immediate boss (whom I got on well with) was not renowned for his love of admin and paperwork which he would enthusiastically delegate to his minions – especially me it seemed.
“I was always surprised, therefore, when he would invariably volunteer to keep minutes of our meetings with Even Bigger Bosses.
“One night, at the end of a well-lubricated evening I plucked up the courage to ask him: ‘Fred, why do you volunteer to take, and write up, the minutes of the meetings, ‘cos you hate paperwork?’
“‘Jim my boy,’ he replied, ‘I’ll teach you a valuable lesson. Always remember that it is perfectly possible to lose the meeting – but win the minutes.’
Separately, a blog run by doctors who do not choose their words carefully – Dr Rant – claims that the government will do anything to control its message; and another Toblog said the Department was trying to edit history to agree with the party line.
UK Liberty said: “I cannot think of any legitimate reason to rewrite what a third party has said. It is far removed from clarifying the remarks of a colleague or making use of a right to reply, which are legitimate exercises.”