The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Yes. I think there is something in the argument which a number of people have made, including in this court, that there was a shift which New Labour brought in. I think that the leaders of New Labour, when it was in opposition -- Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson, later Alastair Campbell, who joined them as head of communications for the Prime Minister -- these men and many of their colleagues had a profound belief that two things had happened in the media: one, that John Major had been and was being destroyed by newspapers, or substantially destroyed by newspapers, and secondly, that before him, Neil Kinnock, the leader of the party before John Smith and leader of the party for much of the 80s, he also had been destroyed, most of all by the tabloid press and above all by the Sun.

These were almost articles of faith and in talking to many of these people when I was writing the book, it came up again and again. It was, if you like, the foundation of the way in which they wished to project New Labour publicly, that they had to stop the newspapers -- above all, the newspapers, who, after all, were the opinion makers, rather than the broadcasters -- to stop the newspapers ganging up on Labour. Once that happened, once the newspapers ganged up on a prime minister or indeed a leader of the opposition, he or she was finished. That, as I say, was an article of faith.

The way in which that was then prevented was to constantly -- I think I used the phrase, or someone of my interviewees used the phrase "feed the beast". Like a bird bringing back worms for its chicks, there would always be something to digest by the newspaper and therefore keep them on your terms, rather than you on theirs.

I think also that the New Labour aversion to any kind of scandal, including private or sexual scandal, and the way in which, once that came up, they very quickly tried to solve it was an another indication of this.

That then became the template. The belief that newspapers had to be kept, as it were, on the back foot by being constantly fed, the belief that 24-hour news, which had become a feature of the 80s and 90s, meant that they were under constant surveillance, 24-hour surveillance, and therefore could never relax, meant they had to armour plate their communication strategy and be constantly pro-active.

I think, as has been said in this court, the Prime Minister, when the Prime Minister was Tony Blair, saw constantly newspaper editors, newspaper owners, reporters, commentators, and that was the practice followed by his successor as Prime Minister. It was a combination of feeding and of armour plating.

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