Friday, October 20, 2006

Spin - the human condition?

I want to put forward a hypothesis - we all tell lies from time to time, true? yes? We will flatter our friends, tell them they look good to make them feel good etc. We will also make ourselves appear better than we are. How many times do we tell someone when we are late that insurmountable problems caused our lateness, not the truth that we couldn't put down a book, had to finish the level on the game of the moment, took too long getting ready or actually couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. All of these things we do!

Yet we expect more from politicians, and in fact one small lie (white usually), one small deviation from the pure unaldulterated truth, and they are damned. Are we expecting too much. I don't suggest this out of a love of all those who enter politics, far from it, but from a recognition of them as human beings who share all the same foibles as the rest of us. Equally I want us to consider how new spin is. We may see it as an invention of Blair, Mandelson or Campbell (Alastair of course), but do you really beleive that spin was post 1997 only. There are famous examples from history, but also there are many instances we may wellbe unaware of - as it is only since there were rottweiler political PR men badgering journalsits that there was the rise of the rottweiler journalist who actively sought out spin to report it to a shocked nation. So should we not just accept spin as normal and not castigate the politician; or is there another reason for us getting worked up when we detect a lie from our leaders?


Roman said...

Hi Darren

welcome to the blogosphere.

Expectations - i agree that's the keyword. Our entire culture has been based on expectations from others, and advertising only cultivates and further develops these expectations. The more politicians try to gloss over their (and the system's) problems the more people will be frustrated with the system. Managing expectations (i.e. giving out a more realistic assessment of what can be done by a bunch of people in Westminster) is vital for the survival of democracy. JFK was right when he said 'don't think of what your country can do for you, but of what you can do for your country'.

Chindu said...


Good to see you here -- even better to see you are prolific in your posts. Way to go.

Is spin same as PR? Isn't there a difference between the two?

Again, I think every profession brings with it certain expectations. For instance, you expect a journalist to verify his facts, to not report falsehood. And if he does, and gets caught, he would be castigated -- not just by the public, but by his own peers/peer organisation. Ditto, a doc. Or a lawyer. So why not the professional politician too?

Agree with your point 'spin' is part of political life. Something to be accepted. So is, I think, the castigation that comes with it when you are caught spinning a yarn. That happens everywhere...

Darren Lilleker said...

True every professional has expectations attached, however the crutiny an MP faces is far beyond that which someone in any other profession would endure. For example, we may expect our doctor to advise us against smoking or drinking but recognise that despite their knowledge they do not always conform to the judgement of their profession. Perhaps that obscures the issues somewhat, the point is though that often we do not know if there are transgressions from 'professionals', therefore trust is high for most apart rom politicians and journalists: the public eye is a crical thing!
Perhaps the issue relates to Chindu's comment on the difference between PR and spin. We all try to manage others' perception of us; a minor example of PR. Some of that involves spinning, and we can be caught out. But the difference it seems between politicians and the rest of us is that one use of spin and the media damn them. So the media manage our expectations of this one profession, the politician, whereas the majority of professions manage their own image and the errant few whose errors do make the media are not seen as representative.