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Morris Onions Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 07:00 AM
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Tories accuse government of electioneering
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Edited on Wed Apr-16-08 07:01 AM by Morris Onions
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, was today accused of breaking Whitehall rules that are supposed to prevent the government making announcements for political benefit in the run up to an election.

The Tories said they were writing to the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, saying that Smith abused the convention when she announced today that 300 new police officers would be recruited, as part of an anti-terrorism initiative, to prevent people being radicalised.

Smith took part in media interviews this morning to publicise the initiative, which the Tories believe could be intended to help Labour's chances in the forthcoming local and London mayoral elections.

In the run-up to local and national elections, Whitehall departments are supposed to be in "purdah", avoiding any significant announcements that could be seen as benefiting the governing party.

Eric Pickles, the shadow local government secretary, said: "It is clear that Labour ministers have intentionally broken Cabinet Office rules in an attempt to create a political smokescreen."

However, his complaint was undermined by Lady Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister, who issued a press release this morning describing Smith's announcement as "a minor measure with limited impact".

Explaining the Tory decision to lodge a complaint, a party spokesman said: "The announcement by the Home Office on police staff breaks both the convention and official rules that official civil-service resources should not be used to attempt to influence elections in the three weeks up to elections."

He claimed that, even thought Neville-Jones had described the announcement as "minor", it was still covered by the Whitehall purdah rules.

The elections are on May 1. Whitehall officials were told that the official purdah period began on April 10 for the local elections, and as far back as March 20 for the mayoral elections.


Yeah! As if they wouldn't do the same thing.
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