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Whitewash, recycle and spin

The Diary couldn't help feeling a sense of deja vu at Labour's badly-received decision to launch its election campaign in front of hundreds of screaming schoolgirls at St Saviour's and St Olave's school, Southwark, last week.

A swift trawl through our files uncovered accounts of a remarkably similar event in November 1999, when Blair grinned his way through crowds of hysterical schoolgirls "reminiscent of the height of Beatlemania" at La Sainte Union girls' school to give a speech dlivering vital positive headlines to an administration reaching those terrible mid-term years.

Could that have provided the inspiration for last week's much-mocked scenes?

Oh, and then there was the keynote speech at Didcot girls' school, putting the final touches to Labour's education manifesto for the 1997 election.

"You can't blame him though," said one girls' school source."Who would want hundreds of spotty, grunting adolescent boys in front of the camera?"

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