Conservative Diary

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If Ancelotti was negotiating to buy Wayne Rooney, he wouldn't discuss the details live with Gary Lineker

by Paul Goodman

Question: "Minister, when were you told about the Government's spending plans?

Answer: "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to tell you.  Let me explain why.  We simply can't carry out the Government's business in public.  I'm afraid that it needs confidentiality if it's to carry on - and much as I like you, I'm afraid we couldn't make decisions if you were sitting at the Cabinet table with your tape recorder.  So I'm going to pass on that one, I'm afraid.

I appreciate that it's not a great answer.  Voters like transparency.  Journalists know this.  Explaining live why discussions between Ministers must be confidential if government's to carry on isn't easy.  Especially since politicians gossip (at one end of the scale) and leak (at the other) to journalists all the time.

But at least it closes the question down, and is better than this -

Question: "Minister, when were you told about the Government's spending plans?"

Answer: "From memory, I think roughly three days ago."

Question: "Were you consulted about the decision?"

Answer: "Well, I'm not responsible for welfare, so -"

Question: "So you weren't consulted?"

Answer: "As I say, I'm not responsible for -"

Question: "Was it discussed in Cabinet?"...

...And so on.

Establishing why journalists shouldn't be told everything Government does shouldn't be mission impossible.  After all, if Chelsea's manager was negotiating to buy Tim's beloved Wayne Rooney, he'd hardly want to discuss the details live on TV with Gary Lineker, or whoever.


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