Whitehall comms chiefs told to enter 'crisis mode' over hung parliament threat

By Matt Cartmell, prweek.com, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 01:00AM

Whitehall comms directors have been advised to step into crisis mode to ensure they are prepared in the event of a hung parliament after 6 May.

Uncertainty: Whitehall preparing for several scenarios

Uncertainty: Whitehall preparing for several scenarios

In the final few days before the election, government departments are developing hypothetical policies based
on the manifestos of all the main political parties, with the aim of hitting the ground running once the new government is elected.

But former Foreign and Commonwealth Office director of comms Lucian Hudson, now partner and MD at Cornerstone Global Associates,  said Westminster and Whitehall were ‘poorly equipped' to deal with a hung parliament. With polls pointing towards such an outcome, he advised directors of comms to ‘treat the situation like a crisis'.

Meanwhile, one current dir­ector of comms at a major government department said: ‘It means people have to think about the implications of a Government that is potentially going to be influenced by the Liberal Democrats, who have some quite significant differences in terms of policy. The number of potential scenarios has increased markedly.'

Whitehall comms directors have recently been developing comms strategies based on these hypothetical policies. But with greater uncertainly over the outcome of the election, the process has become more challenging.

A former Whitehall director of comms said: ‘The key challenge is that they're going to have to prepare for a wider variety of scenarios and be prepared to rip them up and start again.

‘The complication with a hung parliament is what permutation could you get? Is it going to be a LibDem/Labour or LibDem/Tory government? And what would that mean?'

This article was first published on prweek.com

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