1. When the announcement suddenly appears in a Sunday newspaper, rather than being formally announced to Parliament; and
2. when there has been no prior effort to consult interested parties (local authorities, trades unions, employers' organisations, etc); and
3. when there are no costs for the proposition, when there is no serious analysis of what the proposition is likely to achieve and when there is no timetable for implementation; and
4. when an election is looming.
I leave you to judge the status of the following story in Scotland on Sunday:
"TENS of thousands of Scottish pupils will be removed from traditional academic classes to learn trades under a controversial plan to be unveiled by Jack McConnell today.
The First Minister wants pupils aged 14 and over who are failing academically to attend 'Skills Academies', where they will be taught how to become plumbers, electricians, joiners and other skilled workers.
As many as a 100 such academies are to be created, based either at further education colleges or on school premises...
McConnell, in an astonishingly blunt outburst, declared there was no point in such youngsters sitting through French lessons when they can't speak English properly.
But the plans were met with immediate hostility by education union leaders last night, one of whom described the idea as tantamount to a return to selection and the principles of the 11-plus...
His plan will be put in the Labour manifesto for next year's Holyrood elections, along with the First Minister's recent pledge to ensure all pupils undergo literacy and numeracy tests before leaving school.
However, McConnell could not give details of the likely cost of the scheme. "