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The Pre-emptive Close – What happens if a decision-maker appears to take sides in a controversial consultation?

The Prime Minister had a bad press the other day!

Nothing new in that you may say: but the occasion for criticism might have raised a few eyebrows among those who organise public or stakeholder consultations.

The charge against Tony Blair is that he has effectively pre-empted the proper consideration of the Energy Review – a formal consultation document issued in January with a closing date of April 14th. His speech to the CBI dinner was on May 16th and his critics allege that it effectively overrides anything that comes out of the wider debate. In other words, to use the terminology of the salesman, the PM went for the “pre-emptive close” (n.b. textbook example – “I’m so glad you seem to agree. Now, what shall we do first?”)


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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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