Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

How Not To Spin

So now we see that Gordon Brown heads a government so incompetent that they can’t even handle a leak consultation properly. Yet it seems they have friends in the Sun.

Yesterday morning the Sun was leading with the news that Alistair Darling Gordon Brown was considering scrapping stamp duty for a while. Then during the day the Treasury spinners were pushing the “deferral” line.

Deferral of stamp duty is likely to make as much difference as an ice lolly in the underworld. The money will normally have to be set aside at the time of completion anyway, and if you find yourself having to break into your stamp duty fund then surely a forced sale isn’t far behind.

The Sun’s sources got the spin wrong, assuming they gave George Pascoe-Watson the full list of options being considered. The Sun obviously went for the big headline – that of “scrapping” stamp duty – when in fact that was probably the least likely option. So the Treasury had to spend most of yesterday back-pedalling as they realised that what should have been a PR coup had been turned into an expectations management disaster.

Either that, or the Sun was fed the single option and if so the sources will have lost credibility (though given that Brown managed to cheese off most of the media last October anyway this won’t make too much difference). This morning, though, without missing a beat, The Sun has switched from the “scrapping” story to the “deferral” line and still gives a positive slant to the idea (though with a more tempered editorial). This is despite much of yesterday’s general coverage pointing out that with the news of a potential change in the open, the housing market now risks going from a downturn to flatlining until the Autumn statement. Now the Sun could have gone in hard with the “back-pedalling” line but has chosen not to – why?

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