I'm watching my colleague Shane Greer take part in a 10 minute discussion with Chuka Umunna on Sky News talking about the new Welfare to Work proposals, which were widely trailed today in the Sunday papers.
The fact that Shane is taking part in this discussion at all illustrates a real problem at the centre of the government's communications strategy. It's clear that the proposals were briefed heavily by someone yesterday - either someone close to IDS or from Number 10. But they clearly hadn't thought about the reaction. Obviously the News Channels were very interested in the story and it's been running all day on Radio 4, 5 Live, LBC and others. But the only reactive voices you hear, apart from Danny Alexander's, are Labour politicians and right of centre commentators - none of whom, it seems to me know any more than what they have read in the papers.
Don't get me wrong, Shane did a great job in debating with Chuka, and even got him to agree with some of his points, but shouldn't there have been organised follow-up from a small group of nominated backbench MPs who could have fanned out across the airwaves and put across the case in a way that commentators can't.
Or is it that the media thinks it will get 'better soundbite' from the likes of Shane than they ever will from an on-message MP?
There are some very good, media friendly backbench Tory MPs. Downing Street should utilise their talents, and the media ought to pay more attention to them than they do. Because, as I know full well, once you get on the media lists, and you continue to perform, they keep coming-a-calling.
Secondly, I bet this is the lead news story on most local radio news bulletins and breakfast programmes in the morning. Have MPs received a briefing to enable them to give good interviews on the subject?
I very much doubt it. No doubt that will happen on Thursday when the White Paper is issued. But by then it's too late. The story is four days old. Sure, it will get some cursory coverage, but news editors will rapidly lose interest in a story that started today.
But that is what happens when you brief the Sundays about a White Paper which should first have been introduced to Parliament. I've said it before and I will say it again, but yet again, PR requirements are taking precedence over parliamentary proprieties. If you're going to do that then at least make sure the media planning is done properly. In this case it certainly wasn't.