In a glass case on the first floor of the People’s History Museum in Manchester, there sits a pipe that once belonged to Harold Wilson. The Labour leader – who was resident in Downing Street twice, once in the 60s and once in the 70s – did not smoke it by choice. He preferred cigars. But he and his aides understood that a pipe was a signifier for authenticity, roots and a mind that would not be rushed. Every time Wilson publicly puffed away, in other words, he was indulging in the modern political game we know as spin, long before the word was ever invented.