How governments hide bad news - and the bad news they want us to overlook
Governments very often have to announce bad news or controversial news to the general public. In order to do this they carefully choose the time to make the announcement. When will people be distracted and have little time to consider the announcement?
It’s my observation, and you can check this out for yourself, that November/December is a favourite time to make unpopular announcements or just before the summer holidays. The general public therefore has little inclination at this time, just before Christmas or summer holidays, to consider controversial issues or to spend time lobbying MPs or protesting about something which in normal times they would be very concerned about.
This is the time of year when the government, whichever party is in power, announces an increase in defence spending. It used to be the time when the fishing quotas were negotiated with the EU and Britain, being always outvoted, usually came away with a deal which wasn’t very satisfactory to British fishermen.
Much more money for defence?
On 19 November the government announced huge increases in defence spending, at a time when money is desperately needed in other areas. Disturbing details to follow in another posting.
Another questionable decision taken on a new nuclear power station
On 14 December the government announced that it is “talking to” EDF the French energy company that runs our nuclear power stations and a Chinese energy company about building a new, highly controversial nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk. “Talking to” is double-speak code for “planning to go ahead with”.
British taxpayers may be asked to pay billions of pounds in upfront costs and also to pay for any cost overruns.
The issue of long-term highly toxic radio-active waste will hardly be considered openly.
The Chinese company currently has a 20% stake in this project and is threatening to pull out. This would make the whole situation more difficult and possibly more costly for the British taxpayer. And should the Chinese be involved anyway?
I’ll write about these topics in the next few days or so.
David Roberts, 12 January 2021