There is never a good day for a government to bring out bad news stories. But when there is a queue of bad news stories waiting to surface, Labour’s spin doctors have tried out a solution to their problems of news management: flood the news channels in one go with all the bad news stories that have been waiting for weeks to make an appearance. And this is precisely what happened on 14th December!
The report into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was released that day. The publication date had been known for some time. This was always going to be a big news story. So in Labour’s eyes, this was an ideal day for the police to question the Prime Minister over the loans for honours scandal.
And why not use this day to announce the closure of 2500 post offices, the introduction of limits on further requests for government information under the Freedom of Information Act, the controversial expansion of airports and the start of consultation on giving prisoners the right to vote?
And once all these have been announced, why not announce that a major police investigation by the Serious Fraud Squad into British Aerospace contracts with Saudi Arabia was being called off?
With so many bad news stories overshadowed by the Diana report, this looks more like a scared government putting all the rubbish out in one go.
Smothering important issues in this way reveals a ministerial culture that fears discussion and public debate. It will do little to boost the people’s confidence in the actions of the government.