.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Press blunder No. 2 - the inadvertent e-mail

If you are the press officer for a political party you always face an uphill struggle to interest hacks in your policy initiatives and ideas. That is because the media are more interested in tittle tattle, cock-ups, rows and knocking copy than they are in the rather dry policy-making process that most parties go through to arrive at their manifesto. That is not to condemn the media, after all they are merely reflecting the tastes of their readers. The idea of accidentally leaking a draft of one's pre-manifesto to the opposition is therefore as good a way as any of hitting the headlines and getting the policy ideas in it discussed more widely. If only we had thought of that as an actual strategy. The reality is that a Party official mistakenly pressed the wrong button on his e-mail address book and the 20 page document winged its way through the ether to all 30 Labour AMs. I can of course rationalise this by saying, as others have done, that the document contained policies that had already been announced in much-ignored press releases and that it had already been in the public domain as a consultation document sent to various interest groups for comment. That would not make for such a good story of course. So I will not say that at all. Instead I will encourage all our political opponents to get onto the bandwagon and throw as much mud as possible at us. In that way it will be our agenda that people will be talking about and not theirs.

Update: I have removed the reference to Labour Party Chairman Ian McCartney here because my rather bleary-eyed reading of the BBC on-line report at 7.30am this morning mistakenly led to me attributing the quote from Damien Green to him. Apologies.

David Collins e-mails to ask why if the document was in the public domain already it had "Confidential" printed all over it. Possibly, that is because it was not yet meant to be released to the World at large, though it will be debated in public at our Party Conference in advance of the General Election, an academic point really.

David also takes issue with proposals to scrap the New Deal. It is hardly a new proposal as James Graham points out - it was in our 2001 manifesto. It is our view that this policy has achieved very little, that the real drop in unemployment has been due to economic recovery and that the money can be better used elsewhere. In its first year, two-thirds of the successful young people would have got jobs anyway, and about 40% had gone through the programme without getting any work. As for the so-called secret plan to axe the new Child Trust Fund, well this was incorporated in a press release by David Laws MP on 26 November 2003, a point made very well by Mark Ramsden.

As David Laws says "The Government proposals on Baby Bonds are a gimmick which will have little real benefit when looked at alongside plans to massively increase the level of student fees. Children will be given money by the taxpayer which the wiser will use to reduce university costs but some may be tempted to blow it at 18 on a good holiday or a good party. The Baby Bonds policy should be scrapped and the annual £250m savings ploughed into early years education, so that all children, regardless of their economic position, are well prepared to face the future."

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?