Public Affairs: Soap Box - Kathrine Bancroft, associate director, PLMR

The Chancellor has delivered the much trailed Comprehensive Spending Review.

Having successfully secured public buy-in to the idea of cuts, we were told - ad infinitum - to expect the worst.

Textbook expectation management: Tory conference briefly sets the hares running over middle-class child benefit cuts; my old boss Vince Cable had to run the tuition fees gauntlet.

In 1957, the then Conservative prime minister Harold Macmillan said we had 'never had it so good'.

In 2010, coalition ministers were falling over themselves to tell us that we were never going to have it so bad.

The spending review's impact is going to be wide-ranging, but so far it has not lived up to the apocalyptic rhetoric that has been emanating from Whitehall.

Job done - for now.

Toploading the cuts is, on the face of it, good politics and good PR.

Rip the metaphorical plaster off and then move the agenda into more positive, and comfortable, territory.

But the Government knows its fate is inextricably linked to the success or failure of the cuts and that opportunities to change agendas will be limited.

As the cuts start to bite, and identifying them turns out to have been the easy part, the opposition won't let Cameron and Clegg off the hook. The media would be derelict in their duty if they did - and the public won't buy it.

The Government now has to find a positive message that resonates with the public in a way that the Big Society has singularly failed to do. And it needs to think long and hard about its strategy if the cuts do not go far enough.

The Government has won this comms battle, but there is a long way to go before it can win the war.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.