The Secret State: Top Five Ways To Learn What Government Is Planning

All too often organisations only bother to engage with government when there is a problem that they need to address. But government often cannot react that quickly. It can be a supertanker that takes time to manoeuvre and you certainly have little chance of stopping it.

There are two lessons from this. Firstly, know what government is planning so that you can make informed decisions about engagement at the right time. Secondly, be prepared to commit resources to getting involved over a period of time in engaging with policy and building networks. No self respecting organisation would fail to network in their sector and amongst their peers, so why is politics and government often treated differently when they can have such an impact on how an organisation operates.

Here's how to find out what is being planned:

  1. Parliament - the monitoring of Parliamentary proceedings remains the building block of any political communication. Knowing what is going on, who is saying what, what campaigns are getting traction etc means that action can be taken. Parliamentary questions, debates, select committees, all party groups, early day motions, they all have to be considered.

    A recent example helps to prove the point. Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has been 'combative' is his relations with local government since entering government. A recent ministerial statement by Pickles on local government finance claimed that there is a 'secret state' of unelected council tax levying bodies. He went on to list these bodies and promised legislative proposals to increase their accountability and transparency. Only by being aware of these comments can those organisations potentially involved hope to take action. If they don't then they could face some dire government interventions riddled with unintended consequences.

  2. Speeches - it is all too easy just to pay attention to the headlines carried in the media about the big set piece speeches. It is often the detail that is more important and you can only understand this by reading the full speeches, not just the edited highlights. Also, junior ministers and the opposition all give speeches as well and often these are not the subject of any media coverage. It does not make them any less important or relevant to you.

    You only have to consider the case of author Hilary Mantel's recent speech and the media furore which followed to see how context and setting can be totally missed by...

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