Fake Ministerial Interaction

A co-conspirator has tipped Guido off to another bit of “faking it” from the government. Keen to show their commitment to e-Democracy (whatever that is) they have been putting great effort into hosting ministerial webchats on the Downing Street website. The trouble is that they only attract malcontents, the mischevious or almost no one at all. After all who really wants to webchat with the likes of Ed Miliband?

This morning’s live webchat was with the Minister for “I’ll have an affordable house with double mortgage subsidy”* and Housing, Yvette Cooper. Only ten people bothered to log in. One of them was Karen Doran.

Karen Doran: What is the government doing to make sure their policy on housing (regeneration and growth) is aligned to policies designed to promote economic growth. Could the Minister give practical examples of the opportunities this presents to local authorities in their place shaping role?

Yvette replies: You are right Karen that new homes need to be planned alongside new jobs — as we are doing in the Thames Gateway, which is a major area of regeneration and housing growth. But housing and economic policies need to work closely together for existing communities too. Look at what cities like Manchester and Birmingham have done in their city centres — creating new jobs, but bringing people back into the cities to live as well.

If that patsy question reads like a planted question, it is because it is almost certainly exactly that. Now why she needed to ask the question in a “public engagement” exercise is beyond Guido. Karen Doran works on the Community Housing Task Force (formerly part of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister) where she advises on “Communications and Consultation Strategy”. So it seems unnecessary for her to pose as a member of the public to ask the housing minister a question.

We are today living in a government which follows a Potemkin strategy of public relations, merely artificial photo opportunities have now been replaced by completely faked photographs. Public engagement is now simulated, the only members of the public the PM interacts with are photogenic school children. When Potemkin built his villages they were intended to fool one person – Catherine the Great, now New Labour wants to fool everyone in Great Britain.

*Yvette is actually Mrs Balls, despite them having a joint household income of some quarter of a million pounds between them, Mr and Mrs Balls claim tens of thousands of pounds every year in mortgage subsidy to make their housing more affordable.



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