Labour Party failing to communicate effectively warns political comms expert as Budget unveiled

The Labour Party's communications strategy is completely failing to win over the public, a political comms expert has warned.

Unveiling new budget: Chancellor George Osborne
Unveiling new budget: Chancellor George Osborne

Former Labour parliamentary candidate Alex Hilton said the party had ‘allowed its reputation for economic competence to be stripped’.

In his fortnightly column in PRWeek, Hilton said that following concerted attacks from the Conservatives, public opinion was now that ‘Labour messed up the economy’.

Hilton’s comments came as the Government unveiled its first Budget yesterday since gaining power last month.

Public apathy

‘The Labour rebuttals are simply not getting through,’ warned Hilton. ‘The public has heard the pre-prepared lines so many times that it is not hearing them anymore. What it is not hearing from Labour is pride.

‘Labour’s front benches, scared of ideology for so long, need to dig deep and find their conviction. Because that’s the only way they will communicate to the public what’s truly at stake.’

News of the new Budget has made the front page of every national newspaper this morning.

The Independent ran with the headline: ‘Tough? Yes… But Fair?: VAT up, spending cut, benefits slashed in Osborne’s first budget’, while The Daily Telegraph nicknamed Chancellor George Osborne ‘The Enforcer’.

Effective communications

Fleishman-Hillard head of public affairs Nick Williams said the Government had communicated well ahead of the Budget yesterday. ‘The Government had a clear communications objective - and that was to prepare its audience for the sharp and unavoidable budget cuts and tax rises that took place yesterday.

‘This has been effectively carried out and the Chancellor's clear delivery yesterday was the culmination of this successful strategy. The real challenge now will be to carry them through when the reality hits home.’

Expectation management

Mandate CEO Sacha Deshmukh concurred and added: 'The Budget has been an excellent example of good expectation management.  The coalition has passed its first communications test well.  The Chancellor successfully made "pain" seemed like the norm, and then was able to deliver a pill that was slightly less bitter than everyone expected. 

'But the real test will be over the coming months, and whether the coalition's leaders will be able to keep rebelling backbenchers in line and so keep communications under control.'

Fishburn Hedges associate director Simon Redfern also commented on the Budget in his PRWeek blog.

PICTURE: REX

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