Friday, May 08, 2009

A huge PR gaffe - MP's expenses affair gets worse

The Daily Telegraph has been having a field day with its revelations about the minutiae of MPs expenses. Although the revelations are hardly of a scale to prompt resignations, they are embarrassing for the Government. Note that the opposition parties have kept fairly quiet on this issue, since their MPs have no doubt been claiming for similar trivia. Of course, the Telegraph is more interested in Labour-bashing than "outing" the Tories. Maybe the next few days will see things change.

The sensible thing, in PR terms, would be to ride out the storm, point out that nothing illegal happened, mention that all parties have used the same system, and promise to change the rules.

However, sensible behaviour is not a hallmark of politicians at present. Now the matter of how the expenses were leaked has been referred to the Metropolitan Police. A Commons spokesman is on the radio blustering about "serious offences" and "a possible breach of the Official Secrets Act". What idiocy this is. No-one cares how the Telegraph received the details, and no-one is denying their authenticity.

As an example of how to make a PR drama into a crisis, this is a classic. When you're in a hole, you should stop digging.

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