Government comms isn’t what it was in its Campbell prime; but even accepting that the control freakery of yesteryear is out of place now, the performance over the Iraq inquiry has been even more dismal than usual.
Even if they don’t care about the democratic principles at stake (depressing enough in itself), have these people not learned anything about dealing with their stakeholders? Do they not realise that making a major announcement without (seemingly) discussing it with anyone who might have an opinion on it is insane? Having promised to increase openness to restore public faith in politics, did no-one think that announcing a secret inquiry with a hand-picked chair into the most controversial political decision of the past decade was risky? Didn’t they think to line up some allies to come out in support? (And if they tried and couldn’t find any, shouldn’t that have set some alarm bells ringing?) Isn’t rigging it so it won’t report until after the election a little, well, rubbish, presentationally? Especially as it now looks as though they are rowing back on what they’ve announced – another nail in the coffin of basic government competence.
When even the Lib Dems are credibly pointing out that the government is “weak and pathetic” things look pretty bleak. I now support the Labour Party the way my Dad supports West Brom – he’s been doing it a long time, it’s a habit and a reliable family joke; but he didn’t really care when they were relegated. At the moment I could seriously use some good reasons to get enthusiastic about Labour.