Saturday, October 18, 2008

It ain't a victory

The Daily Telegraph is headlining – front page in the print copy – the "victory" by the metric martyrs.

It is not a victory. The regulations have not been changed and, until they are, nothing has changed. All that is being proposed – and then only in the next few months – is that the local authority "guidelines" on prosecution are to be changed.

We have not seen the small print, and it does not make any difference that we have not. What can so easily be changed administratively can, in a few years time – when everybody has forgotten the "victory" and moved on – can be changed back again. And even then, this is just a "guideline" which, as we have found to our cost over the years, can be ignored anyway. It has no legal effect.

The key to all this though is the reference to John Denham, the Innovation Secretary. We are told he will issue guidelines within months that prevent local authorities taking traders to court. He is cited as saying: "It is hard to see how it is in the public interest, or in the interests of consumers, to prosecute small traders who have committed what are essentially minor offences."

Forget Denham. Who is his boss? Ah! None other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Peter Mandelson. The Daily Telegraph has walked "eyes wide shut" into a bear trap created by the master of spin.