Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Traying off-message

The undoubted success of New Labour's PR machine will warrant a fat chapter in media studies text books, long after Tony Blair leaves Downing Street. For those of us at the sharp end of spin culture it's easy to get a little jaded of politicians blurting out the party line. It's hardly surprising then, that news librarians, journalist and editors (in that order), long for well-drilled ministers to slip up or stray "off-message", some do it quite naturally, others are just unfortunate.

Pity then MP Caroline Flint's recent appearance on BBC's Newsnight. Tasked with having to defend the Government's relationship with troubled technology supplier ISoft, the Junior Health minister put in a performance Mr Tony would have been proud of.

Having survived a mauling by presenter Emily Matlis imagine Flint's horror then as she pressed play on the video later that evening. Although she maintained a fixed glare at the camera it was the tea lady in the office background who stole the show. Ghanaian born, Nana Amoatin , seemed unconcerned about such weighty matters as government bungling, choosing instead to carry out her tea duties, live broadcast or not. Admirable dedication you might think, but it was Mrs Amoatin's amazing techinque of carrying a full tray of mugs on her head that caught the eye of this librarian. Having passed on the sighting to the Guardian's diary columnist the item was published and sure enough a flurry of reader's emails lit up the editors inbox, eventually prompting the busy editor of BBC's Newsnight to pen an explanation for the programme's blog.

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