Clarity is Key: The Government needs to be clear, concise and consistent to unlock reforms
If the Government wishes to unlock reforms it needs to follow the three Cs: clarity, conciseness and consistency
Last December the Prime Minister said to the House of Commons that “before going to Brussels I set out exactly what I was going to do and what I would do if I could not get the safeguards. I did exactly what I said I was going to do, but apparently in politics these days that is very surprising.”
Over the past couple of months it seems that the Government has found it increasingly difficult to do what it has said and articulate the benefits of the reforms it had initially proposed.
In an article on these very pages last November I said that the Chancellor needed to “set a positive tone for growth and enterprise”. Now it seems the Government needs to follow “The Three Cs”: clarity, conciseness and consistency.
The starting, stopping, restarting, changing and remoulding that has been recently seen on the Health and Social Care Bill illustrates that the Government is losing the narrative.
There is a case for being committed to the initial reforms and keeping the narrative simple. Andrew Lansley had, after all, designed his initial health reforms through consulting with the public and a host of professional bodies when Shadow Secretary of State for Health. To open, close and then reopen the gates to produce a Bill that is subsequently diluted has led to confusion and concern and put the policy objectives in danger.
Indeed, there is a further C to consider: compromise. Of course there is an element of coalition politics involved, and it seems that not all reforms the Conservative Party wished to implement can be enacted at the moment. However,the Government still needs to present a clear and concise message about their reforms to help them to be both understood and implemented effectively.
Another area where this technique can be applied is to the economy and economic reform. As Ruth Porter of the Institute for Economic Affairs recently pointed out in The Telegraph, the Prime Minister needs to make his mind up on whether business is either good or bad. I agree with her that business is good and that this should be the message. He, along with the Government, needs to be seen as a champion of business and enterprise, and present a united message that sticks.
March is the month where George Osborne makes his Budget speech. It is when, to paraphrase something else that was said in the House of Commons last year, the Chancellor should stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood and demonstrate that the Government firmly stand behind the business community.
In doing so he should communicate his plans in the clearest way possible so that, hopefully, the confusion will end and clarity will ensue.
Rory Broomfield is a communications consultant. He tweets at @rorybroomfield
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