: Soap Box - Hugh Milward, deputy MD, TLG

There are important lessons to learn from the coalition's woodland U-turn.

Members of the Government have learned the hard way that some measures to balance the budget deficit are more toxic than others.

It is not good enough for ministers to give the go ahead to the pet projects of civil servants without first holding them up to the lens of political common sense.

If the issue is emotive, the opposition well organised and the media mobilised, initiatives designed to save comparatively modest sums can quickly consume vast quantities of ministerial capital. The restructuring of No 10 should ensure unforced errors are minimised.

When situations do spiral out of control, David Cameron has shown there is a way of limiting damage to his authority - through a prompt, sincere and complete apology. That is something his predecessor in No 10 never understood.

The lesson for those involved in political PR is that while there remains a need to cut the deficit, the details of how the Government plans to make the savings are not yet set in stone. In other words, it is not always futile to resist cuts.

But such campaigns can win only if they are backed by a broad advocacy group, they recruit the backing of the mass media, and they can demonstrate the cuts contravene the national interest.

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