Monday, August 11, 2008

Government by leak

Here is how it goes: you are in government and want a few favourable column inches, so you leak a policy idea into the media and soak up the coverage without having to do a thing. Maybe the broad reaction is favourable, so you actually do what you said in the leak and get the benefit all over again. Then you announce the thing multiple times just to be on the safe side, each time conveniently forgetting that you've said it all before. It's the gift that keeps giving, squeezing the last bit of favourable spin out of any policy measure, fantastic! Except of course sometimes, such as when the measure might affect market decisions and skew them in some unwelcome direction. So it goes with Stamp Duty, where the normal government spinning process has kicked the housing market when it is down because, not unreasonably, people think that if they wait a bit the government might suspend the tax and save them a fortune.

The blunders of this government keep coming. This is not a Labour/Tory thing; this is increasingly an idiot/competent thing. You couldn't imagine this happening with Tony Blair, and I never thought I would ever write something like that.

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