A fascinating snippet in the Sunday Times Atticus column yesterday, suggesting that former Labour party special advisers are now running courses for their counterparts in the new coalition government on ‘how not to be a spin doctor.’ Could this really be advice on how to avoid some of the more notorious examples of recent years, such as the ‘good day to bury bad news’, by being less devious and more open with journalists? Or is it more a case of ‘learn from our experience and make sure you don’t get caught’ ? I’m unclear. The news follows hot on the heels of The Times’ publication of excerpts from the ‘Prince of Darkness’ Peter Mandelson’s memoirs, where he brazenly admits that practically everything journalists wrote about the Blair-Brown rift over the past few years was true, even thought Lord M vehemently denied it all at the time. This is just the most blatant example of why journalists have rightly become so distrustful of what they are told by officialdom, and a tragedy because it has made reporters much more cynical, always having to assume that they are being lied to if the truth is inconvenient. In turn, this has made people who deal with the media resent the fact that journalists so often won’t take what they are told at face value – a viewpoint that frequently surfaces when we run media training courses. All this has become a hugely poisonous influence on media relations over the past fifteen years, which will sadly be hard, if not impossible, to reverse.