Compare and contrast the following quotes.
First, here is Philip Hammond speaking in the House of Commons on 9th June this year, seeking to reassure eurosceptic MPs that the Government does not intend to produce pro-EU propaganda during the referendum campaign (my emphasis):
‘Clearly, it will be for the yes and the no campaigns to lead the debate in the weeks preceding the poll. The campaigns will be designated by the Electoral Commission, and will receive a number of benefits, including a public grant and eligibility to make a referendum broadcast and to send a free mailshot to voters. I can assure the House that the Government have no intention of undermining those campaigns, and they do not propose to spend large sums of public money during the purdah period prescribed by section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000. A vibrant, robust debate in the best traditions of British democracy is in all our interests. If my hon. Friend’s concern is that the Government are thinking of spending public money to deliver doorstep mailshots in the last four weeks of the campaign, I can assure him that the Government have no such intention. The Government will exercise proper restraint to ensure a balanced debate during the campaign.’
And here’s today’s Daily Telegraph, reporting a briefing by the Prime Minister’s EU adviser on, er, the Government’s intention to produce pro-EU propaganda ahead of the referendum:
‘David Cameron is already preparing a pro-European Union dossier that will be sent out to British families ahead of the in-out referendum. In a move that has infuriated eurosceptics in the Conservative Party, it can be disclosed that Downing Street is already planning to issue a document explaining “why we need to stay in the EU”…The plans were disclosed by Mats Persson, a No 10 adviser and former boss of Open Europe, in a briefing to senior Conservatives last month. According to sources, Downing Street is planning to issue the document explaining to the British public “the changes, the benefits of the changes to Britain, and why therefore we need to stay in the EU.”‘
Is it any wonder Conservative MPs weren’t willing to trust Ministers’ promises that they would act in an unbiased way if purdah was abolished?