The Ministry of Spin
How the Attlee Government Became Hooked on the Power of PR
by Richard Milton
When the Second World War ended in 1945, the Government’s propaganda offensive was only just beginning. But now its target was the British people.
The post-war Labour government under Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Deputy Prime Minister Herbert Morrison carried out the most ambitious programme of social reform ever attempted in a democracy, including wholesale nationalisation of industry. To overcome political and public opposition they used the resources of the wartime Ministry Of Information to implement propaganda campaigns costing millions – even though the MOI should have ended with the war.
“With this seemingly casual Cabinet decision, control of Britain’s propaganda machinery slipped into Morrison’s pocket like a silver teaspoon from a stately home.”
Throughout their term in office Labour deceived Parliament, press and people with propaganda. They initiated clandestine PR organisations like the ‘Economics Information Unit’ and the ‘Information Research Department’, which secretly fed the media, and concluded a secret deal with Reuters News Agency to distribute government inspired ‘news’. They also ran phoney news agencies, such as Britanova in the U. S. and the Arab News Agency in Beirut, staffed by Secret Intelligence Service personnel, like Kim Philby.
When the Conservatives succeeded to power in 1951 they reacted at first by dismantling Labour’s PR machine – but later became enthusiastic users of propaganda in the Suez Crisis and in quelling the peace campaigners of the early 1960s.
- THE MINISTRY OF SPIN is the first popular book to dig down and piece together the story of how the post-war Attlee government hoodwinked Parliament, press and public by hijacking the propaganda machine created during the Second World War. In doing so they gave birth to a virtual ‘Ministry of Spin’, and the culture of spin that permeated subsequent British politics.