The Conservatives have decided to take a second bite at the Stephen Byers/Jo Moore affair in a House of Commons debate tomorrow; it is to be hoped that they will get their teeth into it rather more effectively than on the first occasion three weeks ago. There are two interwoven issues; the first is Mr Byers' handling of the deteriorating Railtrack situation and the second is Ms Moore's role as his public relations adviser.

It could be said that Ms Moore's hapless handling of her job should not engage the attention of the media and the Opposition parties to the extent that it has; she is a relatively unimportant special adviser to a relatively junior cabinet minister. However, she was a knack of making major errors which uncover something nasty at the heart of the Labour government. Attempts were made to excuse her atrocious e–mail advice that September 11 would be a good day “to bury bad news” but last week she may have done something much worse – at least in Downing Street's eyes. The long–awaited minutes of Mr Byers' contentious conversation with the Railtrack chairman were released exactly five minutes after the Chancellor of the Exchequer began his Pre–Budget Statement last Tuesday and thus, to use No 10*s word, “contaminated” the media coverage of Mr Brown's important speech. In another telling phrase, No 10 “refused to deny” that it had reprimanded the Department for Transport. Perhaps unfairly, but nonetheless understandably, Jo Moore has come to represent the unacceptable face of Labour government “spin” and it would now be better for everybody, including herself, if she were to resign before, eventually, she has to be fired. RAY FLEMING


To be able to write a comment, you have to be registered and be logged in.

* Mandatory fields

Currently there are no comments.