Andrew Grice: Brown will crave coverage, just like Blair

Independent political editor Andrew Grice said Blair would be best remembered for spin.

"It worked brilliantly for New Labour in opposition. It worked for a while after 1997 because of the goodwill towards the new Government, but often became a substitute for policy and eventually damaged Blair.

Its limitations were exposed over Iraq. You can't spin the case for war on the basis of half-truths." But he said that Government was "slightly more open" now than 10 years ago, "despite the spin".

"Labour deserves some credit for bringing in a Freedom of Information Act. It's a step in the right direction, even if the secretive culture in Whitehall has not really changed much. Unfortunately, the Government now wants to water down its own Act, a proposal it should abandon."

When asked whether Gordon Brown will usher in a new spin-free era, Grice said: "He should do. He certainly intends to. It could help to define him as a man of substance against David Cameron, who might be seen as the ‘heir to Blair' on spin. But it will not be easy to stick to it, especially when the going gets tough. His instincts will be the same as Blair's: he will want good media coverage.

"Brown can win the support of the papers but he will face a difficult task to keep them all happy. Some of the traditionally Tory papers may revert to their natural home, especially if Cameron is doing well in the opinion polls. Never underestimate the desire to back the winner."

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