Diary: Cabinet Office takes care over 'purdah'

It appears that political correctness and concerns over religious tensions have prompted the Cabinet Office to avoid using the term 'purdah' for the period after an election is called.

It has apparently adopted the term 'sensitive period' for the interlude during campaigning, in which civil servants are not allowed to do anything that might appear to be using public money for party political ends.

But when quizzed on the source of the news, officials could only say that the word - whose everyday use refers to a system of screening women from strangers using a curtain in some Hindu and Muslim societies - had been used in government circles 'for a long time' but was absent from guidance for civil servants on dealing with enquiries from journalists.

Indeed, The Cabinet Office seems embarrassed as to how the whole issue has even come out. 'We've had a lot of journalist enquiries in recent weeks. Maybe someone talked to the press', said a spokeswoman.

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