Imagine you have something you want to keep secret. You’re going to do something, and you don’t want anyone to know.
Chances are, you’ll take a look around and make sure there aren’t any TV cameras pointed at you and rolling away live coverage to several channels. Perhaps the memory of politicians running into problems with comments caught on microphones come to mind, and you’ll take a good look around to ensure there aren’t any in the same room as you that might be used by a national radio station or two.
Then you’ll remember to check you’re alone. Don’t want to do your stealthy act in a room full of others, friends, enemies or passing tourists.
But imagine instead you go into a room filled with several hundred people, with a phalanx of journalists looking on and your every word being broadcast live on several TV and radio stations. What you are going to say is hardly “stealthy”, is it?
And yet, despite George Osborne getting up in Parliament and clearly announcing the plans to freeze income tax allowances for pensioners – words direct from his mouth to hundreds of MPs, the cream of the Westminster political reporting crop and millions of TV and radio listeners – Labour MP Chris Leslie has attacked him for making a “stealthy” change to income tax allowances “buried away on page 50 of the Budget”.
No Chris, it wasn’t buried away. It was said out loud, just a few feet away from you and hundreds of other MPs and broadcast live on national TV and radio. It was about as stealthy as the signposted secret bunker.
If you think that’s stealth, then please – never join the design team for a stealth fighter or become an undercover detective.
Note: For a good post on the income tax allowances issue, see Mark Valladares – Budget 2012: Some Initial Thoughts.