Of course the media and the blogosphere are now both wise to Labour's playing of this card, and suspiciously politically advantageous announcements of increased alert states and the like by security ministers and officials are quickly seen for what they are, and don't get through to the voting public. So what does Brown's government do? Invent a new target for local government of course. So this year National Indicator 37 comes into force - Improving Citizen Awareness and Community Resilience in the Face of Threats. Now this is smart. The fear-raising will come from local Councils - many of them Tory - that people trust, rather than from a government they don't. And what's more, Council tax payers will bear the cost themselves. And it's compulsory - even Tory councils can't do nothing.
Government henchmen Crapita are running a council-fear beanfest to coincide with the G20 summit in London to get the message across. The publicity states:
In 2009 local authorities must significantly improve citizen awareness of civil protection measures to achieve high performance on National Indicator 37 and to ensure local community resilience in the face of a range of threats.
Attend this timely event to hear about:
- Government expectations around National Indicator 37
- Criteria and assessment of the duty
- Positive practice and ‘lessons learned’ in real life situations
- Key communication skills and resources available for support
- Hear from key national policy and strategy makers at the Cabinet Office and Audit Commission on expectations around the Civil Contingencies Act and informing the public
- Take away clear guidance on National Indicator 37 and how you will be assessed
- Consider what other areas are doing to improve community resilience and how to apply ideas to your own area
- Identify ways to build networks of contacts, communicate with and through grassroots community organisation
- Learn how to inform citizens about potential incidents and guide response without causing panic
- Hear how the new Extranet will be used to spread knowledge of best practice, share ideas and resources
- Learn about the new national crisis communications support group, what resources and support will be available for you in a media crisis
The timing is the key. The new 'local fear' performance indicator comes into effect in financial year 2009 / 2010; this means throughout the run-up to the expected May 2010 election, councils throughout the country will be pumping out 'fear' pamphlets, holding 'fear' exercises, getting the whole local voluntary sector to join in, gaining big 'fear' publicity in local free ad papers and generally helping Brown's campaign, all in order to get a good NI37 score at the end of next April.
One of the men behind all this is Bruce Mann, Head of Civil Contingencies, Civil Contingencies Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, one of Crapita's speakers. Jeanette Innes, Assistant Director, Programme Manager for Telecommunications Resilience, and who works for Mann will also be speaking.
So be prepared for Big Fear from Gordon this year. As if the recession wasn't enough.