Yesterday the UK government lost control of the intelligence and security committee and resigned itself to see the publication of a long-time-hidden report on Russian interference in British politics next week. Today Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that Russian hackers in state-sponsored organisations called Cozy Bear and Sekondary Infektion have been trying to steal British intellectual property relating to the manufacture of a vaccine for Covid-19, and influence the result of the 2019 General Election.
Yesterday the Guardian reported that Keir Starmer is about to offer a full apology to the whistle-blowers who exposed the nature and extent of antisemitism within the Labour Party and were then vilified by the party machine and as a result are suing for defamation and libel. Within the next few weeks the long-awaited report into antisemitism within the Labour Party conducted by the EHRC, widely expected to be damning in its exposure of the problem, is expected to be published.
Notice a similarity? Well, you should. This is the classic diversionary tactic being used by both political parties to try to control the news agenda. And because it is so blatant it becomes news in itself. For goodness sake – we have enough news at the moment, we don’t need more.
We are of course used to political spin subverting the news agenda. Embarrassing admissions are ‘buried’ at the end of the week or just before a holiday or at the same time as more important events are likely to command the headlines. Good news stories are used as a cover for bad news stories. And so on.
So today it doesn’t surprise me at all that British Airways announced the retirement of their fleet of jumbo jets – the Boeing 747s that I aspired to travel on as a teenager – thus conveniently taking everyone’s eye off the recent (and probably future) announcements of massive job losses. Of course, both pieces of news come from the same stable, but the one is inanimate and nostalgic whilst the other is human, cruel and hard.
There is also a back story. Fewer planes, particularly fewer elderly planes, need fewer pilots and crew, fewer ground staff and fewer maintenance personnel. So the one decision feeds into the other. From a negotiator’s point of view, the validity of a redundancy exercise is enhanced by the 747 decision. I expect we will see more examples of the same as the frequency of redundancy announcements increases over the coming weeks.