By Marcus Leach
Politics is a tricky business at the best of times, and ensuring that you don't upset people or cause offence is a devil's job. As such, one might afford the Government a certain degree of leeway in certain instances.
Take David Cameron's famous episode with Labour MP, and Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Angela Eagle. Telling Ms Eagle to 'calm down dear', the prime minister meant no harm, but his comments caused something of an uproar.
There are other instances when leeway is not given.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) probably thought that their press release this morning (Monday) was anything but incentive and thoughtless. After all, the prospect of infrastructure projects worth $20 billion to British contractors, would have been of interest given that Brazil is set to hold both the Olympics and football World Cup, and our flagging economy needs all the help it can get.
Yet in the context of what happened in Brazil this weekend, this press release was incredibly insensitive and lacking in thought, which sums up the British Government at times.
231 people were killed in a nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria, leaving hundreds of families devastated at the tragic loss of loved ones. The news of this catastrophic event has been broadcast around the world, and yet the British Government didn't pick up on it.
Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, declared three days of national mourning, whilst there will be thirty in Santa Maria, and a ceremony due today (Monday) in the capital, Brasilia, to mark 500 days to the 2014 football World Cup was postponed.
How then is it that BIS failed to acknowledge the tragedy? Or was it simply that they felt it wasn't as important as what they had to say? Our economy can't be in that bad a shape that announcements of a potential $20 billion take precedent over the loss of lives, for surely there can be no cost put on the lives of the 231 who perished.
The press release should have, at worst, had some mention of the events in Brazil, passing on our Government's condolences. Better still would have been delaying the release until a more suitable time. This is a lesson to anybody working in the world of media and PR, and especially Government departments, think before you act.
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