Tactical Briefing

Tactical Briefing

From: The Unit

To: GB

Subject: Media blackout

Another good week. The government and you personally are barely figuring in press and TV news right now. It's difficult to judge whether this is having a positive effect but it certainly feels better than the continual pasting we get whenever you say or do anything of note!

Obviously, Harry the Hero has been playing massively. As you know, we were not always in favour of supporting his deployment. We feared that, had he been killed or injured, everyone would have started thinking about the other young men who have got killed or injured. Suddenly young men being killed or injured might have blown up into a massive issue.

Also, re: the blackout. The fact that if the Taliban had been aware of Harry's presence they might have tried to kill him was always mitigated, for us, by the fact that, even without being aware of his presence, they were trying to kill him. They're trying to kill all our soldiers, all the time, somewhat - so would it really matter if for a while they tried to kill one of our soldiers a lot?

Anyway, the whole thing has, in the end, played brilliantly for a number of our allies, including the monarchy, the military Establishment, the right-wing press. Everyone, indeed, except Terry Taliban!

The blackout tactic has got us thinking, however. As you know, we already have a news blackout re: your travel plans. But we were wondering about extending it to cover other areas - speeches, public appearances, etc? We think it might just be plausible to claim that the national interest was best served if these events were not reported?

Obviously, there would be a big hullabaloo, similar to the manufactured hand-wringing over the prince if there was a media blackout covering all of the Prime Minister's activities. However, eventually people might (probably not) come to accept and even like not knowing what was happening at the highest levels of government 'til after it is all finished?

The argument for this course might initially be security. It would be much harder for anyone to kill you if they didn't know where you were. Likewise, the obsessive reporting of practically everything you say helps the enemy build up a picture of who you are and what you are likely to do.

The massive upside of a media blackout for us would be that after an event has taken place it is much easier to judge if it has been a success. Therefore, only after, say, PM's Questions might we choose to admit that yes, once again, it has taken place and release some pre-filmed packages with the key personnel, such as yourself, saying things like: "It was the proudest day of my life. When I stood up at the Despatch Box I had no idea how it was going to go, but I just went for him and I reckon I slotted two or three of the opposition."

Let us know your thoughts.

This article first appeared in the 10 March 2008 issue of the New Statesman, How Hillary did it