A HUGE row has blown up after it emerged the Assembly Government is planning to spend around £250,000 on employing six new spin doctors.
Opposition parties accused Labour of seeking to step up its propaganda campaign before next year's Assembly election.
The six "Heads of Ministerial Communications Teams" will each be paid on a salary scale from £37,918 to £48,990, initially at the bottom rate.
Plaid Cymru's director of communications Helen Mary Jones said, "The cynicism is appalling, coming so shortly after the Health and Social Services Minister pleaded poverty and said Labour had been forced to abandon its promise of free home care for the disabled. These jobs will cost around £250,000 a year - how many hours of home care could that sort of money pay for?
"If Labour needs to get its message across better in the run up to next year's election, it should be paying people out of party funds, not using taxpayers' money."
Welsh Conservative Assembly leader Nick Bourne said, "This is a blatant attempt to shore up the Labour Government's propaganda machine just months before the next Assembly elections.
"There can be absolutely no coincidence in the timing of this announcement. It is a disgraceful waste of public money and clearly designed to paper over the cracks of Labour's record of failure and broken promises.
"No amount of spin can disguise Labour's appalling record which was so vividly exposed last month when the Assembly Government reneged on its promise to deliver free home care for the disabled.
"This is the hallmark of a Government which can only survive through spin and presentation. We all know Rhodri Morgan's administration lacks substance and conviction and is short on delivery. The First Minister is getting desperate if he thinks he can spin his way out of eight years of failure by recruiting yet more people to try and manipulate the media."
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Mike German said, "If the current Assembly Government is serious about wanting another chance at governing Wales, then it should be concentrating on delivery in the next year - not trying to put a gloss on its broken promises. It will be very difficult for these new spin doctors to put a shine on unfulfilled commitments such as free home care for the disabled and free breakfasts for all primary school children.
"In attempting to build a spin-squad in the year up to the Welsh General Election the Assembly Government is trying to pull the wool over the Welsh people's eyes. The Welsh public are increasingly fed up with this tired Labour Government. No amount of greater media relations and good news stories can change that."
An Assembly Government spokeswoman said, "We have a duty to communicate because our policies have a direct impact on people's lives. We are reorganising our communications operation by establishing Ministerial Communications Teams, which will bring together for the first time the whole range of communications activity for six Ministerial portfolio departments.
"The Head of the Ministerial Communications Team posts will be key to establishing a truly joined up and flexible communications service. The post holders will need to have a strong understanding of how the whole range of communications activity can be marshalled to deliver portfolio policies and programmes for the people of Wales.
"Because of their key role, we are advertising externally for these posts to maximise the quality of the field. There are five posts to fill in total - one has been filled internally through the ASPB (quango) mergers process."
The spokeswoman said the posts would be funded by efficiency savings as a result of the first phase of ASPB mergers.