For those of us in the extended family of government webbies, it’s very quiet. Once the election was called, almost everyone inside the Civil Service took a cautious reading of the guidelines regarding the ‘purdah’ period, and cut all online communication: blogging, tweeting, whatever. As I wrote, it’s an entirely understandable reaction. But it’s getting very lonely out here.
And now, with William Hill’s now putting the odds on a hung parliament at 8/15 – in other words, almost twice as likely as not, it poses a tricky question: what happens on 7 May, the day after polling day?
The guidance on elections and government formation, published in draft – ahead of its inclusion in ‘a broader Cabinet Office manual that the Cabinet Secretary plans to publish later in the year’ (!) – seems to suggest that the (largely self-imposed) restrictions should continue:
As long as there is significant doubt whether the Government has the confidence of the House of Commons, it would be prudent for it to observe discretion about taking significant decisions, as per the pre-election period. The normal and essential business of government at all levels, however, will need to be carried out.
Hardly crystal-clear as regards the already grey area of professional (as opposed to directly job-related) publishing and communication: but I guess the same ‘safety first’ principle will be applied by most.
Which could mean staying silent until Parliament sits again on 18 May… or potentially, even later.