Editorial – Good day to bury Mr E Bill?

The 9/11 attacks were astounding and as a BBC news presenter at the time it was one of the few cases I remember where a newsroom of hacks fell silent. […]

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By Sumit Bose

The 9/11 attacks were astounding and as a BBC news presenter at the time it was one of the few cases I remember where a newsroom of hacks fell silent. We couldn’t believe our eyes as we watched history unfold.

The story was obviously epoch defining in terms of world news but what many of us remember was the classic British political story of Jo Moore the Labour spin doctor who famously sent an email claiming “it is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury”. Stupid yes, uncaring yes and eventually she had to resign but was what she did really that incredible?

Politics as we know is murky and in the 11 years since that event we have had even more far worse examples of spin and politicking be it expenses scandals, porn watching, data losing, statistics fiddling and more u-turns than my plumbing. Politics works on two simple principles; it’s easier to be voted in if people like you and being unpopular is easy to avoid if people don’t know you’re doing something unpopular.

Caroline Flint has already stuck a kitten heel into the whole conspiracy pie (as you will see from our story), claiming the fact the Energy Bill is published the same day as the Leveson Report is a clear case of skullduggery. Perhaps she’s right but she can hardly crow about standards of probity and neither can her party. The fact is all governments are the same and they do the same things, blaming the machinery of the civil service for delays when passing Bills and accusing the opposition of causing mischief.

Tomorrow all eyes (apart from those of us at ELN) will be on Lord Justice Leveson and the conclusions of his report, the media will have a frenzy eating itself and I’m pretty sure you’ll see just a snippet of the Energy Bill on your TV news bulletins. Yes it’s a good day to bury bad news tomorrow but is that really what this Bill will be? Is there any need to bury it when we know pretty much what is in it? Last week’s entree revealed the major planks including the backtracking on CO2 targets and the creation of the counterparty.

Yes we should hear about the EMR and the exact working of the capacity mechanism and if the much hated Emissions Performance Standard will remain but in essence is there anything worth burying tomorrow? This Bill is nowhere near finished, it’ll have a huge period of consultation and lobbying once published and then get a mauling from the Lords before carrying over to the next session of Parliament.

So we have a long way to go, tomorrow is only the start and if it’s really a big conspiracy to schedule the Bill announcement on the day of Leveson, it won’t really work as energy is something that is now so firmly on the political agenda that it’s not going to disappear after tomorrow. The winter is coming, bills are on the rise and the battle lines between those who want to go for gas to keep costs down now and those keen on green, are more entrenched than ever.

I’m afraid however much we’re distracted by Leveson, Davey et al will certainly be scrutinised in the long term so if someone at DECC was thinking of getting the shovel out tomorrow they’ll be wasting their time.