A possible £8.1m compensation deal from DEFRA for Scottish farmers is mooted on Friday. Over the weekend, the plan appears to vanish into thin air. The Scottish Government then complains about this publicly and accuses the UK Government of dirty tricks, that the plan was an election bribe no longer needed once an election had been ruled out. It looks rather embarrassing.
DEFRA led the Scottish Government to believe that the £8.1m was on the table. Whether it was actually on the table on Friday or not, it definitely off the table a few days later, and if a proposal was made, as Alex Salmond asserts, it not carried out. This has led to bad publicity, and curiously, the UK Environment Secretary said, "There is no truth whatsoever in the allegation that decisions about funding for foot-and-mouth have anything to do with a possible election. Governments have discussions all the time about what they are going to do, options are looked at." That doesn't sould like the deal was never seriously proposed in the first place... in fact, it sounds like the deal was considered, then abandoned!
Stop talking to the Scottish Government, in case they try to make political capital out of what you say.
My alternative idea
Why not try actually carrying out any offers made? You know, to keep your promises rather than go in a huff when someone complains publicly that you've broken them.
Rather than honouring agreements, or making sure the SNP were absolutely clear about what they were actually leaving with (i.e. nothing), Labour's have decided it's all the nasty SNP's fault for saying out loud that they think Labour have gone back on a deal.
Why can't some Special Adviser or PR consultant tell the UK Government that the best way to stop anyone complaining about that is... wait for it... not to go back on a deal?
13 October 2007