Blair’s confusion PR tactics will ultimately be his downfall

In my time in the Government’s service, I encountered many people who saw positive benefits in confusion PR. They believed in keeping everybody guessing until the machine had decided where to go. For one thing, everybody could put their oar in, believing that they had a chance of influencing the outcome. Some of them also believed in saying one thing while doing another. Indeed, Harold Wilson was felt to be the arch-exponent of this method of PR.

In my time in the Government’s service, I encountered many people

who saw positive benefits in confusion PR. They believed in keeping

everybody guessing until the machine had decided where to go. For one

thing, everybody could put their oar in, believing that they had a

chance of influencing the outcome. Some of them also believed in saying

one thing while doing another. Indeed, Harold Wilson was felt to be the

arch-exponent of this method of PR.



It is, however, very hard on the credibility of spokesmen, and Margaret

Thatcher’s clarity of purpose came as a breath of fresh air. I was

blessed among press secretaries because she knew what she wanted to do

and stuck to it. That enabled me to brief with the power and authority

which reinforced the apparent strength of her governments.



Now, after nearly two years of Mr Blair’s Government, we can see that

when it is not in the confusion PR business, it sees merit in saying one

thing and doing another. Witness, as examples, Mr Blair’s dealings with

Formula 1 cigarette advertiser, Bernie Ecclestone; that London parks

lover, ex-Welsh secretary Ron Davies; and, most recently, genetically

modified crops.



The Government says it is in favour of reducing atmospheric pollution

(while burning more coal and writing off nuclear power); ending welfare

dependency (while running away from it); and openness (leaking, or

’trailing’ as they put it, every initiative three times over, while

gagging the Sunday Telegraph when it gets hold of a copy of the Stephen

Lawrence race killing inquiry report).



It began this week to shift a bit on its essentially Augustinian

position on entering a single currency - Oh Lord, make me pure but not

until the Sun agrees - but do not expect any change in next Tuesday’s

Budget presentation from Gordon Brown. Our Chancellor is a past master

at employing smoke and mirrors. His last Budget offers a remarkable

insight into his methods.



You will recall that while, on the one hand, he said ten times over that

his Budget was prudent, he proposed to spend an extra pounds 57 billion

(15 per cent) over three years on health, education and welfare.



This did not add up, so I made some enquiries. I now have it from the

Commons Library that while, for example, he portrayed himself as

spending an extra pounds 19 billion on education, it is at the most only

pounds 10 billion and, adjusted for inflation, only about pounds 6.5

billion. He managed this feat by double and treble counting so that

additional spending in each of the three years of pounds 3 billion,

pounds 3 billion and pounds 4 billion was presented as pounds 3 billion,

pounds 6 billion and pounds 10 billion, thus converting pounds 10

billion at the most into pounds 19 billion. Confusion PR will be the

death of this Government because increasingly it is being rumbled.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.