What started out as a partisan front page in the Mirror, asking why the government had all gone away at the same time, ended in a desperate attempt by the government to wrest control of a PR crisis.
And it’s all thanks to Twitter.
The morning paper reviews were done, paying little attention to the Mirror’s front page. But, Labour stalwart Lord Prescott leaped onto the theme using Twitter to ask members of the public #wheresthegovernment?
Along with a link to a picture of Larry the Cat (right, proof that PR pictures can always come back to haunt you), Prescott tweeted:
Breaking news: Government announces who is running the country this week #wheresthegovernment
Within minutes hundreds of retweets and bids from voters to be ministers in the absence of the real government had the BBC taking notice. A news read on the tweet campaign inspired more twitterers to take part. And in turn prompted the BBC’s Simon McCoy to ask sacrificial treasury lamb, Justine Greening, ‘well where are the government’?
A few hours later, #wheresthegovernment is trending and Tory officials are in a flap. The call goes out. Do we have anyone near London we can wheel out?
A heavily tanned William Hague (apparently in charge) uses an interview from his official residence to prove there’s someone on the bridge – but that it doesn’t matter because the Cabinet all have phones.
And an hour later, Sky are persuaded to dispatch a crew down to Vince Cable’s Twickenham garden (note, he couldn’t make the 4 mile trip from his house to Sky News HQ) to ramble on about economics.
A panicked reaction, to a simple, yet effective Labour PR campaign has people concentrating less on share prices and more on who is leading Britain through the economic storm.
Meanwhile, David Cameron announces he’s to take a second holiday this summer.