Jelly Bellied Flag Flapping Failure
Britons shun Gordon Brown’s roadshow to promote Britishness
The Conservatives say ten members of the public turned up to the first event in Leicester in December 2007, which cost £37,000 and was hosted by Jack Straw. They say that after that embarrassment, his Ministry of Justice restricted attendance at Governance of Britain events to people selected, and even paid, by the ministry.
They also claim that councillors have increasingly spurned the events. A total of 21 local authority representatives turned up in Leicester, but attendance fell at subsequent events to 11, then 10, 7 and 2. Finally, at an event in Newcastle on November 21 this year no councillors or officials turned up.
Michael Wills, the Justice Minister, who had attended the previous events, also failed to attend.
Mr Wills hit back yesterday at the Conservatives. “It’s disappointing that they have such little regard for what it means to be British and the importance of this identity in a challenging world,” he said. The total bill for the Britishness events was expected to be less than £1 million, he added.
Labour officials denied that the public had snubbed the events. They claimed that 457 of the 500 people invited to the first five events had attended; and 225 of the 240 invited to return for the reconvened events had done so. They insisted that small payments were the norm in research of this kind, to recognise the time and commitment that participants had given.