q DF wants spin doctors banned - The Copenhagen Post

DF wants spin doctors banned

The use of spin doctors has been under increasing scrutiny after the Taxgate scandal involving the leaked tax details of PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s audit

Right wing party Dansk Folkeparti (DF) thinks that political spin doctors should be banned and that any political, tactical or press-related advice should be given via public officials in the ministries.

The DF argument comes despite a recently-published report from a Finance Ministry panel that concluded that the use of spin doctors is a practice that is working fine.

“The report is more or less a stamp of approval of the current practice, which is unfortunate,” Peter Skaarup, a DF spokesman, told Berlingske newspaper. “We mustn’t forget that the commission [which generated the report] was established due to a number of cases involving spin doctors being under the suspicion of utilising means and methods that were undemocratic.”

It was DF who teamed up with Venstre (V) and Enhedslisten back in 2011 to demand that the government set up a commission to look into the rules involving the use of special advisors, commonly known as spin doctors, after the prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne), broke the tenet that ministers were only permitted one spin doctor.

But now, DF wants spin doctors to be banned from ministries all together.

“By doing this, we also ensure that the individual advisor’s career doesn’t rise or fall with the career of a minister, thereby creating a temptation to employ dirty tricks and dubious actions in order to promote the minister,” Skaarup told Berlingske.

Skaarup went on to maintain that the spin doctors are paid by the taxpayers, which is yet another good reason for them to behave in a neutral manner and not as an extension of the political party arm into the ministry. Following the panel's report on spin doctors, the government has decided that their salaries should be made public.

The use of spin doctors has featured heavily in the news recently, personified by the case involving Peter Arnfeldt, the former spin doctor to the previous tax minister, Troels Lund Poulsen (V), who was charged by police for the leak of PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s confidential tax audit to Ekstra Bladet tabloid.

The commission report approving the use of spin doctors is the third of its kind since 1998, when the first rules involving the employment of special advisors were established.