1 September 2008

Denying the obvious

Propaganda and spin under New Labour is all embracing.

Today the media acquired a confidential internal Home Office briefing letter sent to Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. The message of the letter was that the economic downturn which is causing rising levels of poverty and unemployment would in turn be accompanied by an increase in crime and other related social problems.

The BBC News political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said that although it comes as no surprise that ministers expect crime to rise in an economic downturn, there will be embarrassment that these thoughts have become public.

Two issues seem to me to arise from this sorry episode. First for what possible legitimate reason is ‘advice’ of this kind to government ministers kept confidential in the first place? Second, to what depth has government propaganda sunk – along with popular expectations of government behaviour – when something as obvious as “recession equals higher crime” can’t be acknowledged by the government. What started off under Alistair Campbell as “spin” as the key to all government communication – i.e. a policy of perennial propaganda in government speech – has now led to situation where citizens expect their government to misrepresent and deny the obvious. Is this one of the so-called British values that Mr Brown is so keen to promote?


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