MoD relies on spin and secrecy to deflect criticism
Honesty is not a virtue that comes naturally to people at the Ministry of Defence.
The political imperative of needing to put a positive slant on everything the Government does or will do, irrespective of whether it is true or not, is the reason why spin has become the centrepiece of this Government’s communications strategy. And because Government has got a monopoly on inside information (enabling it to maintain extremely tight control), it uses spin to divert attention away from the key issues that really matter to citizens and consequently, succeeds in suppressing alternative views and criticism from those on the outside, including Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
The Ministry of Defence is particularly apt at this dark art of spinning – a skill perfected whilst defending a particularly appalling record of performance, over the last several decades. Increasingly, there is a lack of trust in the claims made by MoD about its work and achievements. MoD is able to get away with blatant lies and cover-ups because it relies on spin as its primary tool to deflect criticism – reinforced by the weapon of secrecy.
Indeed, there is a massive gap in the minds of interested observers outside the Ministry of Defence such as those in the Treasury, the Cabinet Office, BEIS, the National Audit Office, academic institutions, think tanks and the press & media on how it supposedly functions on a day-to-day basis, as depicted in official UK Government publications (which remain within the editorial control of MoD), and how it actually operates in reality.
In addition, the culture of intense secrecy within MoD has not only allowed its leadership to extend this discrepancy even further, but also conceal appallingly poor policy-making and huge failings in its defence procurement procedures, from select committees of the House of Commons – such as the Public Accounts Committee, Defence Select Committee and Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee – severely undermining their parliamentary function of scrutinising the performance of MoD.
What’s more, MoD discourages free thought and self-criticism of its internal business processes, and is consequently completely reliant on outsiders to identify, and point out shortcomings in its defence equipment procurement policy.
The more secretively it works, the more incompetent it becomes. The simple fact of the matter is that secrecy breeds incompetence, whilst openness breeds competence.