Ministers queue to give the public 'good news': The Government has cranked up its publicity machine

DOWNING STREET appears to have developed an unstoppable appetite for good news, that generally scarce commodity recently extolled by the BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis but comprehensively scorned by the rest of the journalistic trade.

The Prime Minister's Office had let it be known in advance that reporters would not face an idle August. But in the effort, presumably, to offset one of grimmest Parliamentary sessions in recent memory, this summer's news management operation has exceeded normal expectations.

It goes without saying that the stream of 'news' issuing from numerous government departments is considered 'good', or at least is presented as such.

The wily John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, appears to top the list of ministers mopping up the publicity from the relative comfort of the Commons recess.

His latest score was yesterday's generally well received move to penalise aggressive young drivers. Last week, he managed to present the go-ahead for 44-ton lorries as good news for the rail freight industry.

Two other departments also had a slice of the action yesterday, as the Department of Employment hailed its 'dole' cheat clampdown and the Ministry of Agriculture announced new environment incentives to stop farmers wrecking the countryside.

The supply of worthy information and ministerial talking heads to deliver it seems endless.

A radio turn on age discrimination was even taken last week by Ann Widdecombe, the Under-Secretary of State for Employment, not formerly associated with caring Conservatism, while at the weekend John Major unconventionally selected the News of the World as a vehicle to deliver a warning about targeting welfare.

Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, who is thought good at it, staged an appearance on Any Questions on the Isle of Wight where she was conveniently resident in her holiday home. Tomorrow, she launches a 10-point mental health plan for supervising people returned to the community.

Astute news presenters know the value of the so-called 'Sunday for Monday' press release - the art of getting boring material into newspapers before the week hots up. Government departments eschew the practice but with the release of benefits statistics this Sunday, the Department of Social Security will buck the tradition.

As to whether cranking the publicity machine to such a pitch is a good thing for the Government, the answer is likely to be yes. Even given the inevitability of some adverse comment, any news is probably better than no news.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Help Desk Support

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Help Desk Support individ...

Recruitment Genius: Interim HR Advisor

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are going through an excitin...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable