Friday, 4 May 2007

Labour Does Not Trust it's Ministers to Speak without Instruction

This from the Guardian ... had a good laugh while reading it :)

A briefing paper prepared by the Labour party for ministers appearing on last night's election programmes admitted in advance that the results were likely to go badly. Cabinet ministers were assiduous in following the official line in the 27-page document, passed to the Guardian, which included advice on what to say when asked about Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's relationship and how to rebut Conservative claims that a general election should be called once the new prime minister takes over.

The first of three "key messages" ministers were briefed to explain reads: "This was always a very tough set of mid-term elections for Labour. However, we fully respect the message the British people is sending us this evening."It offered recommended answers to questions about the party's unpopularity and the handover of power to Mr Brown.

Initially, ministers were told they should say: "Let us wait and see what the results are before engaging in speculation. We will know soon enough."Once the results began to come in, the paper said, ministers should reply: "We are midway through an unprecedented third term. All governments experience mid-term setbacks at the polls. In the end what matters is we have the right policies to take the country forward and take the tough decisions for the long term."

John Reid, the home secretary, duly did so on BBC1's election coverage, telling viewers: "We are in the mid-term of a third term, so it will be tough." He later sang the praises of his colleagues - again echoing the briefing document, which said ministers should defend Mr Blair as "the most successful leader and prime minister Labour has ever had" and Mr Brown as the "most successful chancellor ever".

The document advised that if ministers were put on the spot and asked whether Labour should have a proper contest for the leadership, they should say: "Within the rules any MP can decide to stand, providing they meet the criteria. That's how it works in a democratic party."They were then to add that the "only poll that matters is the next general election", and insist there was no "constitutional requirement" for one before 2010.

They were also briefed in advance on how to tackle David Cameron's Conservatives.

Thanks to the Guardian for giving me a good laugh. I'm sure it is not how the story was intended to be taken but I find it highly amusing that Labour does not trust their own Ministers to speak publicly without precise instruction what to say.

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