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Budget PR

Budget PR

19 March 2015 | Lloyd Hughes

The budget is a difficult time for politicians, and there’s none more so than the budget preceding a General Election. I love a good budget and normally like to watch it live, if only for the remonstrations of deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who’s always good value for money when shouting down heckling MPs.

I usually find party politics immensely frustrating, however I tend to make exception for the entertaining nature of the budget. It’s often Coliseum-esque in its performance, with the Chancellor either victim or victor. Yesterday, George Osborne delivered his fiscal vision to the House of Commons and he was very much the victor.

Slammed in previous budgets for his commitment to austerity and the consequential squeeze, Osborne is now able to bathe in the glow of an economic turnaround, with business in Britain, if not exactly booming, then certainly seemingly on the right track.

I won’t go into the finer points of the outcomes of the budget, but working in PR, we can look at how some of the press reacted to it. I imagine Osborne will have been mighty pleased with today’s headlines…

The Sun’s was probably my favourite, opting to adorn the front cover with the words ‘George’s epic strut’ accompanied by an image of him mocked up as the twerking, denim hot pant wearing, high heel sporting man from the Money Supermarket advert. With the line ‘UK booming…jobs at record high’ as a secondary heading, George will no doubt have been chuffed with firm backing from a paper that’s not afraid to shift in its party political outlook. I’m sure there were hugs of joy in the Money Supermarket marketing office this morning too.

The Daily Mail went for a similarly optimistic approach, with Osborne’s face emblazoned over what appeared to be the sun from the Tellytubbies and the headline ‘Sun Shines On Savers.’ No room for gloom there.

With these two being the best selling newspapers in Britain by a considerable distance, their influence can’t be understated. But it wasn’t just the Mail and the Sun, as the Telegraph, the Express, The Times and the FT all posted positive front pages.

Over on the left hand side of the political spectrum, The Guardian opted for a seemingly upbeat ‘Here comes the Sun’ headline, which was swiftly dampened down with the bracketed ‘(or at least that’s what he wants you to think)’. The Daily Mirror didn’t sing praises either; stating that it was going to point out what Osborne didn’t tell us within its pages. With both of these staunchly left wing, this is no real surprise. And it seemed more like objecting for the sake of objecting. No Chancellor can please everyone in his or her budget, but it seems like Osborne has come close enough to mute any serious dissent.

The iPaper (another leftie) summed it up with ‘Osborne’s cash-for-votes budget’. There’s no doubt of course that many of the policies are aimed at vote winning, but what other party would do otherwise in the Conservative’s position? The party is enjoying a moment of ‘I told you so’, despite not managing to reduce the deficit as much as they’d promised, they’re in a position where they can talk up their economical achievements safe in the knowledge that there isn’t much ammunition for the left to lob their way.

With Ed Balls of Labour saying ‘there’s nothing from yesterday I need to reverse’ (a very tasty sound bite for the Conservative’s PR machine), George Osborne will no doubt be sleeping soundly tonight. A real PR hurrah for him.