The power of the zoom lens photographer, last witnessed by Kate Middleton, has been brought to the fore yet again this time courtesy of Patrick Rock, David Cameron's hapless political adviser, who was snapped carrying a sensitive government mid-term review – with some awkward conclusions clearly discernible.
The minister gave an unwitting insight into government PR strategy when he was snapped carrying the document into Downing Street yesterday, just a day after David Cameron and Nick Clegg delivered a ‘candid’ assessment of their first two and a half years in power.
This document referred to an unpublished annex, listing some 70 missed pledges ranging from road building to criminal justice, describing in detail whether an open and honest strategy is the best course of action from a public relations standpoint.
Ministers must weigh up the positives of being seen to be truthful and facing up to the very real challenges they face to nip any criticism in the bud. Weighing against them however is an opposition breathing down their necks and ready to pounce on any weaknesses they can sink their teeth into
According to The Telegraph the document may be quietly slipped into the public domain ‘without fanfare’ several days after publication of the main review as a means to avoid ‘unhelpful stories’ and ‘unfavourable copy’.
The document read: “We would get some credit for transparency which is [in] line with the Government’s general approach. This could be contrasted with [Gordon] Brown’s penchant for secrecy. I wouldn’t make much of this point since the media aren’t given to much generosity towards any Government on such matters but I mention it for what it’s worth.
“[We can] robustly argue that having looked at a particular issue more closely we have decided not to proceed with this or that pledge. We can argue that this is evidence of a mature and responsible approach to Government. This argument will not, however, hold water very easily for some of the abandoned pledges e.g. numbers of special advisers."